Kali Ma - The Great Mother Kali
Kali Ma is the first of the 10 mahavidya, or wisdom goddesses in the tantric tradition.
She is portrayed with black skin, 4 arms, wide open glaring eyes, a necklace consisting of severed heads and dances on the graves in the cemetery her tongue lolling wildly out of her big wide open mouth, laughing at the attachments of us mortal humans.
Indeed she is a terrible goddess to behold, especially for those who are not initiated in her ways.
Somebody who starts a serious study and worship of Kali Ma might discover how Kali Ma starts taking away from him what he really does not need. He might lose everything he/she owns, but Kali Ma knows that this is what is needed to jolt him/her out of the patterns formed by our every day life. A person not worshipping Kali ma might be terrified by these aspects but a person who knows the ways of Kali would smile inside and thank the Goddess for giving him/her the chance to wake up and move on.
For instance I once had a friend who had an apartment she loved dearly. She had longed to go to India to study yoga for many years, but she did not know what to do with her apartment and was confused as how to be able to keep the apartment while having to leave for india for an extended period.
She started a spiritual sadhana with Kali Ma to ask the great Goddess for a solution.
A month after she had started this sadhana her apartment caught fire and burned down completely. She got a huge sum from the insurance company and used the money to go to India!
This is how Kali Ma works. She solves the problems in ways you would never dream of and you might probably get quite terrified in the process as well!
Kali Ma - Her aspect of death
These terrible aspects of Kali are closely related to us having to relate to our ultimate inevitable death (which indeed is the most terrible aspect of existence that most of us can imagine).
Death is an important moment in life. The monks of the Tibetan tradition use a large part of their lives for a spiritual practice, which is preparing for this great moment of transition in the very end of our lives. "Die before you die", or "Memento Mori" (remember death) are old profound sayings that have a deep meaning. We cannot truly taste life before we accept and embrace the fact of death as a part of life. Every little moment contains a death, a destruction, for events to be able to unfold through the energy of time.
Every moment is a death because it has to die to give place for the next moment. But we cannot accept it. We hold on desperately. It is deep in our nature. If meditating by a flowing river contemplating the water flowing by, notice how the eye would fix on a ripple and follow the flowing movement. Try distance yourself from the fixating of the eye and stare beyond the water. This is how our relationship to death should be, as something that we can let pass knowing that there is a huge river of life and death, and when we can learn to let go we begin to transcend this river of live and death known in the eastern traditions as the "wheel of life".
In ancient India in the time of the Buddha there was a woman who lost her son. She was deeply struck by grief and could not get over it for many years. Finally one day she learned that the great Buddha was passing by her town. She went to Buddha and begged him for what she should do to get her son back. Buddha told her that the first step was to visit every house in the town and ask for alms and to tell the inhabitants in the house that she could only receive alms if a relative of the house had not recently died. If she did this he would tell her how she could get her son back.
She set out visiting every house and to her amazement when she had visited each house she found that her alms bowl was empty. In every single household the inhabitants had experienced the death of a loved one. She was deeply humbled and finally understood that death is a natural part of life. She understood that she should not ask anymore to get her son back and could let go of him and her pain and sorrow.
This is the kind of understanding that Kali Ma will give us.
Kali Ma - Her aspect as mother
Kali is often spoken of as the Great Mother. She will terrify us but she will also pick us up afterward and caress us softly and if we are open to her we will understand the grace that she gives to us.
Without this power of Kali we could not move out of our confinements of our self imposed box and truly transform. She is purely beneficial in all her aspects, the terror relates only to the fear of life we have inside ourselves and all our egoistic tendencies.
Adepts of Kali feel her as a great protective mother that continuously holds her hand over her adorers.
One of the greatest adorers of Kali was the great sage and holy man Rama Krishna from India. Reading his biography is an absolutely inspiring story of a man who worshipped the great mother all of his life.
Hans Hvass is a musician, computer scientist and teacher of Tantra and Yoga leading a tantric art and retreat community centre in the north of Copenhagen. Hans was born in the kingdom of Swaziland in Southern Africa and lived in Hong Kong and France before settling down in Denmark where he met Mariah Claiere at the Music Conservatory of Copenhagen. Together they form the music duo Ibis music, which specialises in making tantric music for relaxation, lovemaking and evoking of the tantric goddesses. Hans Hvass has specialized his studies of tantra to The great cosmic Goddess Kali.