Goddess Kali Portrait

Goddess Kali: Destroyer of Obstacles

Goddess Kali is the most potent form of Goddess Shakti. She is the Goddess of time, creation, and destruction. She is worshipped as the Divine protector and bestower of Moksha (liberation). Goddess Kali can help to destroy the bonds in your life that are holding you back and preventing personal and spiritual growth. You can call on her whenever you need the strength to make a difficult change or the power to create something meaningful. Let’s look at the legend of Goddess Kali and how you can invoke her tremendous power for your own spiritual transformation. 

Goddess Kali 

Kali is the feminine aspect of the masculine Kala, a depiction of Shiva. Kali/Kala means ‘fullness of time’ and refers to time as a cyclical and ever-changing phenomenon that manifests life and death. 

The name also associates with the colors black and dark blue, which is why Goddess Kali is portrayed as one or the other of these colors. Her dark appearance also personifies her as the darkness from which all phenomenon originates and will ultimately return. This association demonstrates that Goddess Kali is the supreme power of nature and the universe. 

Goddess Kali and Lord Shiva
Goddess Kali standing on Lord Shiva

Depictions of Kali

Goddess Kali is often depicted as riding a lion into battle. She has red eyes filled with rage and wears animal skins, a garland of human heads, and a skirt of severed limbs. Blood pools around her feet, and her tongue lolls in a fearsome reminder that nature has the power to consume life. 

Kali has four arms holding various objects such as a sword, trident, sickle, severed head, and bowl that collects the dripping blood. The sword represents supreme divine wisdom – the tool with which to cut the bonds of ignorance. The severed head represents the human ego that must be defeated to attain such wisdom. 

This representation of extinguishing the ignorant human ego is why she is seen as the destroyer of obstacles and the bestower of Moksha. The remaining two arms are creating the mudras of Varada (blessing) and Abhaya (fearlessness) to symbolize her promise to guide her followers to liberation. Although she seems wrathful and terrible on the surface, this fury is directed towards the obstacles to liberation, and her devotees view her as the Universal mother – a kind, benevolent, and loving protector who will lead them to ultimate freedom.

Many artworks and images show Goddess Kali with one foot on the chest of a prone Shiva. Shiva represents consciousness, which on its own, is inactive, and Shakti (of which Kali is a manifestation) represents power, which is its active counterpart. Shakti’s supreme creative power is necessary for consciousness to arise. Thus, Goddess Kali is the creator of all sentient beings.

She is also depicted as Mahakali. Maha means ‘great,’ and so Mahakali is translated to mean ‘great time’ or ‘great death.’ Mahakali has ten heads, ten arms, and ten legs. In her hands, she carries a variety of weapons that represent the powers of the Hindu Devas. This portrays her supreme authority over all Gods and symbolizes her as the ultimate universal force (Brahman). She is the creator of all universal powers, including those of the Gods. 

The Legend of Goddess Kali 

There are many legends of Kali’s manifestation. In her most famous legend, Goddess Durga, the warrior aspect of Goddess Shakti, was involved in a great battle with many demons, two of which were named Chanda and Munda. Durga became so filled with rage that Kali was born out of her forehead. When Goddess Kali appeared, she instantly defeated the demon. This symbolizes that Goddess Kali is the personified wrath and fury of Goddess Durga. 

Later in the battle between the Goddesses and the demons, Durga summons Kali to defeat a particularly tricky demon, Raktabija, who is impossible to kill because he produces clones of himself with every drop of his blood that is spilled and touches the ground. Soon there are hundreds of Raktabijas on the battlefield, and Goddess Durga and her fellow warriors become drastically outnumbered. 

Kali remedies this by severing Raktabija’s head and drinking his blood so that not one drop touches the ground. Shen then devours the clones, thus winning the battle. Her lolling tongue in images of her serves as a reminder that she is the supreme all-consuming power of the universe.

Symbolism and Attributes

Goddess Kali is portrayed as a reckless, bloodthirsty warrior, obliterating evil forces and anything that stands in the way of progress. She symbolizes the creative and destructive aspects of nature and Divine feminine energy (Shakti). Goddess Kali is often portrayed as Mother Nature in her most wild and untamed form, and as such, she is worshipped as a preserver of nature.

Goddess Kali embodies complex and contrasting traits with an unapologetic boldness of character. These include female empowerment, sensuality, protection, passion, creativity, courage, resilience, and strength.

These attributes make Goddess Kali the ultimate female empowerment icon, giving women permission to connect with their fierce feminine nature. Kali inspires us to be unafraid to say ‘no’ and mean it; to discover what we want and be brave enough to request it. 

Just as Goddess Durga summoned Kali on the battlefield when her enemies outnumbered her, and she felt little hope of victory, so can we invoke Goddess Kali when we require her destructive power and infinite strength. With Goddess Kali’s help, we can be fearless, ferocious, and empowered to overcome all obstacles on the path to spiritual and personal transformation. 

Mahakali with the weapons of the Devas
Mahakali with the weapons of the Devas

Invoking Goddess Kali

Kali is the Goddess of time, change, and destruction. She represents your natural creative energy, your sense of empowerment, and your motivation for development. This energy drives the cycle of life, death, and rebirth that repeats throughout your life to facilitate the ending of one chapter and the beginning of the next. This is how you experience growth and transformation, for if nothing in life ended, there would not be space for the new to enter. 

With her fierce love, Goddess Kali will guide you through your transformations. She will create bold opportunities to show you what you need to release, such as self-imposed limiting beliefs, attachments, and false views of reality that are holding you back. This letting go process can be painful, but holding onto beliefs and values that no longer serve you will prevent you from moving forward. It is only by removing these obstacles you can advance on the path to liberation. 

A word of warning: Do not invoke Goddess Kali lightly! She is the destroyer of obstacles, and she lets nothing get in her way. You will receive the transformation you seek, even if that means Kali has to turn your life upside down to make it happen! If you have attachments, are not prepared to let go of just yet, or are seeking a gentler, slower unfolding into your next chapter, then a different Goddess will be better suited to your needs. However, if you are ready for a total and radical shift to the next level, and you don’t care what needs to be removed from your life to achieve it, then Kali is your Goddess.

Invoke Goddess Kali to Help You:

  • Cut the cords of tightly held attachments
  • Face your fears head-on (you may have no choice!)
  • Liberate yourself from limiting beliefs
  • Empower your fierce feminine nature
  • Transcend the ego’s constricted viewpoints
  • Transform your relationship with life and death
  • Let go of people and situations that no longer serve you
  • Destroy physical, mental, and emotional obstacles to your growth
  • Completely re-order your life to support your next stage
  • Respond to challenges without fear
  • Overcome the need to be liked and the worry of how others see you
  • Be unashamedly and unapologetically YOU

How to Invoke Goddess Kali

There are many ways to invoke Goddess Kali into your life to help you make tough changes and let go of unnecessary burdens. You can try a combination of the following practices or choose the method you most resonate with. Use your intuition to guide you in selecting the best way for you to connect with Goddess Kali. This will change over time, so check in with yourself regularly and ensure that your practice is still serving and nourishing you. Here are our favorite ways to bring the transformational spirit of Goddess Kali into your life.

Meditation and Visualization

A great way to invoke Goddess Kali is through meditation. You can visualize her and ask her to help you with any issue you are dealing with. Ask for her blessing and then present her with your problem. Request her assistance in clearing the obstacles that are standing in your way and preventing you from attaining the desired outcome. If you are a beginner meditator or prefer to meditate with a guided practice, try this Goddess Kali meditation:

Mantra Chanting

Mantras are particular words or phrases that invoke specific energies. Because we chant them, the resonance of this energy fills our auric field and retunes our frequency to that which we are trying to manifest. We can use this method to connect with the energy of Goddess Kali. There are several versions of the Kali mantra. This is the basic form: 

Om Kreem Kalikayai Namaha

To begin a mantra chanting session, set yourself up as you would for meditation. Ensure that you are sitting comfortably with your spine straight and your shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself. Then allow the mantra to arise naturally on your exhalation. You can play meditation music if you find it helps you to get into the right mindset. 

There is no wrong way to chant mantras, so just allow yourself to relax and the mantra to flow naturally. You will soon get into a rhythm. When you are chanting, focus your attention on the sounds and the resonance of the mantra. Feel the vibrations washing through your body, reharmonizing your energy field. If you would like to chant along with a recording, try this one.

Yoga, Mudra and Chakra Practice

Kali mudra is a sacred hand gesture that invokes Goddess Kali’s energy. Mudras are like a physical version of a mantra. To form Kali mudra, interlace your fingers and release the index fingers so that they point outward. This is a strong gesture that you can integrate into any form of Goddess Kali invocation, including mantra, meditation, and yoga. 

Kali mudra
Kali mudra

You can practice this mudra and practice yoga poses to awaken your Kundalini Shakti, the serpentine energy that slumbers in your Muladhara root chakra. 

Try this sequence:

  • Tadasana (mountain pose) with Kali mudra
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog)
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward facing dog)
  • Anjaneyasana (crescent lunge) with Kali mudra
  • Utkata Konasana (Goddess pose)
  • Malasana (garland pose)

Hold the poses for 10-20 breaths and visualize Goddess Kali with you as you practice. Feel her immense energy awakening your Kundalini Shakti in your Muladhara root chakra. As you breathe in the postures, visualize this energy moving up to your Manipura chakra. This chakra is also known as the solar plexus, and it is the seat of your personal power. 

Sublimating your Kundalini Shakti here will empower you to act with the courage and confidence of Goddess Kali. Breathe deeply and invite her to destroy your energy blockages and unhelpful belief patterns.

You can try this short Goddess Kali yoga tutorial for a guided practice.

Conclusion

Remember, Goddess Kali focuses on effective over gentle. Hers is not an energy to take lightly, so be entirely sure about what you wish to achieve. She will clear the path for you and help you move past your limitations with the fierce love of a mother for her child. If you are ready to move into your next phase of development and reorganize your life accordingly, Goddess Kali will make it happen. 

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