Kali: Fierce Feminine Empowerment
In the past few weeks, we’ve featured a number of inspiring goddesses that encourage us to celebrate womanhood. These goddesses have included Uma, the incarnation of selfless and nurturing love; Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and imagination; Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune; and Aditi, the embodiment of limitlessness and motherhood. The stories of these goddess can inspire and motivate us to channel these qualities of nurturing, love, hard work and care into our everyday lives.
Today, we’re taking a bit of a different turn toward an energy that may initially seem dark, but that is actually a source of great empowerment and motivation. We’re featuring Kali, a form of shakti and an incarnation of Parvati whose Sanskrit name means “she who is black” or “she who is death.” Kali is the goddess of time, death, liberation and enlightenment. She is an extremely fierce and fearless figure who is known to liberate the soul. The powerful, unapologetic force of her presence has made her a contemporary symbol of female empowerment and self-respect. She also teaches us important lessons about the nature of death and the importance of valuing life.
The Story and Symbolism of Kali
Kali originated in South Asian village, tribal and mountain cultures, and she is now represented in many different forms. Most commonly, she is depicted either black or blue and naked or partially naked. She has many arms and a long tongue and holds objects like a garland of skulls, a knife and a bowl. She is also often portrayed dancing on top of her husband, Shiva.
Kali is especially worshipped in regions like Kashmir, South India and Bengal. She is celebrated at festivals like Navaratri in north, south and west India and Durga Puja in east India.
The fierce power of Kali’s energy not only serves as inspiration to take charge of our goals with purpose and fearlessness. It also teaches us a number of lessons about death and the nature of life: Kali is believed to live in cemeteries, reminding us of the inevitability of death and the preciousness of time. The tools of destruction she holds are not about enacting harm, but instead about cutting out toxic forces, excising personal demons and achieving true enlightenment and liberation. She teaches us that time is precious and empowers us to make decisive, impactful changes in our lives. It’s no wonder she is now often seen as a feminist symbol—she inspires us to take the lead without fear, to unapologetically stand up for ourselves.