[one_half]In my continued exploration of the book Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga by Sally Kempton, I spent time reading on the goddess Kali these past few days.
To be clear, I’m not walking around with a necklace made of skulls or a waistband of severed arms. You probably already knew that, but I just want to make sure we are on the same page. No comment on the severed head, though.
Kempton describes Kali as the goddess of “dynamic power of change, wildness and radical audacity, the fury of battle, liberation through ‘dying’ to the egoic self, absolute voidness beyond all forms and fierce love and ecstasy,” among other things. Many women I know love and rave about the whole rage, wild audacity, acting out with no apology thing. It’s a feminist thing, or so I’m told. However, I wanted a personal experience of Kali, not to simply adopt mass promotions of her.
As I read Kempton’s book, I saw aspects of Kali in many areas of my life, even clothes free living. I recalled being cat-called on the streets, being raped, men calling women irrational and overemotional. In the online clothes free neighborhood, I remembered seeing many men fawn over images of sensual, sexually-themed women. All of this and more fueled tremendous rage in me over time. Built up Kali energy manifested as a desire to lash out, tear people down, destroy something to fix the pain from those and other experiences.
The more I dug into what was really going on within me, the more darkness I found. Lately I have seen all the times I hurt others. I even confessed to a friend of mine, “People think I’m good just because I look strong and flexible when doing yoga. But yoga poses and pretty pics don’t tell you a darn thing about who a person truly is. I have done bad things to good people, and I am overwhelmed by that realization.”
For a while, I retreated into a place of “not deserving” to be present. I stepped away from interacting with people: didn’t answer text messages or phone calls. I was overcome with guilt and shame for the things I’d done and other aspects of myself – the needing to be right, throwing people under the bus, the need for acceptance, etc. All of it laid bare.
[/one_half][one_half_last]Then, something shifted in the past few days. I began to accept my shadows. Even this week, I was resisting things at work because I wanted to lash out and be right to feed my ego. Finally, a colleague helped me see that I was getting in the way of progress. I had to put the need to be right aside in order to get things done. So, I gave up resistance and moved forward with taking care of the issues at hand.
“When you tune deeply into Kali’s energy, letting the calm presence behind her eyes open you to the presence in your own, you discover that her death-dealing implements, her take-no-prisoners attitude toward ego, her revolutionary forcefulness and her vast love are simply aspects of her ultimate power to draw the mind within. Kali does indeed dissolve our structures, but it’s always in service of the heart.” – Sally Kempton
The beautiful thing I find in Kali is that she is not asking us to obliterate all the rage. Rather, she is asking us to put aside the ego that gets in the way of us channeling that energy in meaningful ways. The same rage connected to a need to be right also inspires me to speak up at work. Speaking up is not easy for me to do. When you grow up in poverty, you keep your mouth shut so that you don’t frustrate the people bothering to house you. But now, when something does need to be addressed, I can find a way to raise a concern and propose creative solutions without inflicting harm (i.e. no angry emails…sometimes). I’ll even have you know that rage inspires me to write for clothesfreelife.com. (If only you saw the drafts my posts went through!) Beyond the pain and anger is a desire to heal broader societal perspectives about women, for instance. There is also a passion for moving beyond the naked image obsession in the naturist/nudist community into more complex issues (or just other topics period, like books, puppies and popsicles).
So, yes, Kali is a revolutionary and she can destroy things, but more than anything Kali is about destroying ego and bringing us prostrate to the deepest most essential truth so that radical action can serve the heart of self and others. Our deepest darkest revolutions can happen at so many levels, from taking major actions to stop human trafficking to, “Hey, I’m sorry for lashing out at you.”
“Moreover, when Kali is at work, you can trust her to show you what is truly indestructible, both in you and in your world. She does this by dissolving everything in you except that which cannot be destroyed.” – Sally Kempton[/one_half_last]