woensdag 2 oktober 2013

Kali: The Most Powerful Cosmic Female

Kali, the embodiment of three-aspected cosmic act, which reveals in creation, preservation and annihilation, is the most mysterious divinity of Indian religious order, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Buddhist, Jain or any. She assures 'abhaya' – fearlessness, by her one hand and 'varada' – benevolence, by the other, both defining in perpetuity the ultimate disposition of her mind, but in contrast, the feeling that the goddess inspires by her appearance, plundering death with the naked sword carried in one of her other hands and feeding on blood gushing from the bodies of her kills, is of awe and terror. Instruments of destruction are her means of preservation, and from across the cremation ground, lit by burning pyres and echoing with shrieks of moaning jackals and goblins, and from over dismembered dead bodies – her chosen abode, routes her passage to life. The most sacred, Kali shares her habitation with vile wicked flesh-eating 'pishachas' – monsters, and rides a dead body. She is enamoured with Shiva but unites with Shiva's 'shava' – the passive, enactive dead body, herself being its active agent. She delights in destruction and laughs but only to shake with terror all four directions, and the earth and the sky. A woman, Kali seeks to adorn herself but her ornaments are a garland or necklace of severed human heads, girdle of severed human arms, ear-rings of infants' corpses, bracelets of snakes – all loathsome and horrible-looking. Such fusion of contradictions is the essence of Kali's being, a mysticism which no other divinity is endowed with.

All here is a mystery of contraries,
Darkness, a magic of self-hidden light,
Suffering, some secret rapture's tragic mask,
And death, an instrument of perpetual life.

Fusion of contraries – not just as two co-existents but as two essential aspects of the same, is what defines Kali, as also the cosmos which she manifests. As from the womb – darker than the ocean's deepest recesses where even a ray of light does not reach, emerges life, so from the darkness is born the luminous light, and deeper the darkness, more lustrous the light. A realisation in contrast to suffering, delight is suffering's glowing face – her child born by contrast. The tree is born when the seed explodes and its form is destroyed, that is, the life is death's re-birth, and form, all its beauty and vigour, the deformation incarnate. This inter-related unity of contraries defines both, cosmos and Kali. The dark-hued Kali, who represents in her being darkness, suffering, death, deformation and ugly, is the most potent source of life, light, happiness and beauty – the positive aspect of the creation. She destroys to re-create, inflicts suffering so that the delight better reveals, and in her fearful form one has the means of overcoming all fears, not by escaping but by befriending them.
Light's invocation is common to all religious orders and all divinities; in Kali's invocation, the devotee stands face to face with darkness which aggregates death, destruction, suffering, fear and all negative aspects of the universe. Not its prey but a valiant warrior, the devotee seeks to overcome darkness and uncover all that it conceals – light, life, delight, even liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Kali assists him in his battle. She allows her devotee to win her grace and command thereby the total cosmic darkness – accessible or inaccessible, known or unknown, or unknowable, that she condenses into her being. Otherwise than thus condensed, the devotee could not apprehend and command its cosmic enormity. Kali is Tantrikas' supreme deity, for in her they discover the instrument which enables them command diverse cosmic forces in one stroke. Kali's ages-long popularity among ignorant primitive tribes is inspired, perhaps, by her power to reveal light out of darkness, something that they have within and without and in great abundance. Other way also, Kali assures light in perpetuity. Cyclically, a journey that takes off from the light terminates into darkness but that which takes off from the darkness is bound to land into the valleys of endless light. Invoking and befriending the awful – the negative aspect of the creation, and warding off thereby evils and their influence, is a primitive cult still prevalent in world's several ethnic groups and even classical traditions such as Buddhism that has a number of Kali-like awe-inspiring deities, or Athenian tradition of Nemeses, the wrathful maidens inflicting retribution for a wrong and effecting purgation by way of wreaking ill-fate. Not with such cosmic width as has Kali, or for the attainment of such wide objectives as commanding cosmic elements, motifs like the Chinese dragon, memento mori, a skeleton form considered very auspicious by certain sections of Russian society, Islamic world's semurga, grotesque and dreaded animal forms, ghost-masks… venerated world-over, all reveal man's endeavour to befriend, or mitigate the influence of some or the other wrathful aspect of nature – the manifest cosmos.

Origin of Kali

Not merely her form, mysticism enshrouds Kali's origin also. Among lines on which her origin has been traced three are more significant, though she transcends even those. She is sometimes seen as a transformation, or a form developed out of some of the Vedic deities alluded to in Brahmins and Upanishadas, mainly Ratridevi, the goddess of dark night, also named Maha-ratri, the Transcendental Night, and Nirtti, the cosmic dancer. Kali's darker aspect is claimed to have developed out of Ratridevi's darkness, and her dance, which she performed to destroy, to have its origin in the cosmic dance of Nirtti who too trampled over whatever fell under her feet. Mundaka Upanishada talks of seven tongues of Agni, the Fire-god, one of them operating in cremation ground and devouring the dead. Over-emphasising the factum of association of Kali and this tongue of Agni with cremation ground a few scholars have sought in Agni's tongue the origin of Kali's form.

Whatever variations in their versions, the Puranas perceive Kali as an aspect of Devi – Goddess, a divinity now almost completely merged with Durga. However, considering Kali's status as a goddess within her own right, as well as her wide-spread worship-cult prevalent amongst various tribes and ethnic groups scattered far and wide in remote rural areas Kali seems to be an indigenous, and perhaps, pre-Vedic divinity. As suggests the term Kali, she appears to be the feminine aspect of Kala – Time, that being invincible, immeasurable and endless has been venerated as Mahakala – the Transcendental Time, represented in Indian metaphysical and religious tradition by Shiva. In Hindu religious terminology Mahakala is Shiva's just another name. Like Shiva, some Indus terracotta icons seem to represent a ferocious female divinity that might be Kali or a form preceding her, and in all probabilities, Shiva's feminine counterpart. Buddhism, a thought that opposed Vedic perception in most matters, inducted into its pantheon Mahakala and a ferocious female divinity in her various manifest forms, as Mahakala's feminine counterpart. Obviously, Buddhism must have inducted her from a source other than the Vedic, as the Vedic it vehemently opposed. Invoked with great fervour on many occasions in the Mahabharata, more especially in Bhishma-Parva, just before Lord Krishna delivers his Gita sermon, Kali seems to be a well established divinity during the Epic days, that is, centuries before the Puranic era began. Though invoked as 'Arya', a term denotative of great reverence, Arjuna lauds her as tenebrous maiden garlanded with skulls, tawny, bronze-dark… and with epithets such as Mahakali, Bhadrakali, Chandi, Kapali …, the features yet relevant in Kali's imagery. A number of literary texts : Kalidasa's Kumarasambhava, Subandhu's Vasavadatta, Banabhatta's Kadambari, Bhavabhuti's Malitimadhava, Somadeva's Yashatilaka…, of the period from 2nd to 9th century, also allude to Kali, a fact denotative of her great popularity in realms other than religion. This Kali essentially transcends Vedic Ratridevi, Maharatri, Nritti or one of Agni's seven tongues or a divine form grown out of any of them.

However, Kali cannot be attributed this or that mode of origin. Even if a goddess of indigenous origin and one of primitive tribes, she has far greater width and operativeness than the non-operative boon-giving primitive deities usually had. Unless her absolute 'at homeness' in the traditional Hindu line and her status in it are sacrificed she can not be treated as a mere tribal deity with indigenous origin. Alike, the tradition can not owe her as absolutely her own creation unless her status of being a goddess in her own right is compromised and she is reduced to what she is not. Whatever her origin, perhaps indigenous, Kali emerges in the tradition as its own with far greater thrust and reverence than it attributed to others. Not a mere epithet or aspect of another goddess, Kali has been conceived as the Shakti – Power of Kala - Time. Like Kala she pervades all things, manifest or unmanifest. Puranas perceive Kali as Durga's personified wrath – her embodied fury, but in every case she is her real Shakti. Even her own fury, Durga summons Kali to accomplish what she herself fails to do. After Durga separates Kali from her being and Kali emerges with a form of her own – an independent being, she reigns supreme in entire Hindu pantheon as regards the power to destroy and defeat enemies.

Not merely Durga's Shakti, Kali has been conceived also as Lord Shiva's dynamic aspect. In a delightful equation, 'a', the main component of 'Shava' and 'Kala', negates what 'i', the main component of 'Shiva' and 'Kali', accomplishes. Shava is the lifeless body, whatever is left of the manifest universe when the Power of Time takes it under its control, and Kala is what reveals only in the manifest aspect of the universe, and thus, both are 'timed'. When 'i', symbolic of the feminine energy which manifests as Kali, unites into their beings transforming Shava into Shiva and Kala into Kali, both emerge as 'timeless'. In Shiva this universe is contained, and hence, in him, the transition from the 'timed' to the 'timeless' takes place. Kali, being the Power of Time, does not undergo this transition.


Numerous are Kali's manifestations; however, her external appearance, both in texts as well as art, basic nature and overall personality do not vary much. In her usual form the black-hued Kali is a terrible awe-inspiring divinity frightening all by her appearance. Except that some of her body parts are covered by her ornaments, she is invariably naked. An emaciated figure with long disheveled hair and gruesome face, Kali has been conceived with any number of arms from two to eighteen, and sometimes even twenty or more, though her more usual form being four-armed. The four arms are interpreted as symbolising her ability to operate into and command all four directions, that is, the cosmos in aggregate. She has long sharp fangs, alike long ugly nails, a fire-emitting third eye on her forehead, a lolling tongue and blood-smeared mouth, which, when expanded, not only swallows hordes of demons but its lower part extends to ocean's depth and upper, beyond the sky. When required to lick blood falling from a fleeing demon's body she extends her tongue to any length and turns it faster than the wind in whichever direction the blood falls.
In her more usual iconography Kali carries in one of her four hands an unsheathed sword – her instrument to overcome enemies and command evils, in another, a severed demon head, and other two are held in postures denotative of abhaya and varada – fearlessness and benevolence. Sometimes, the severed head is replaced with a skull-bowl filled with blood.
Abhaya is the essence of Kali's entire being. One of the permanent dispositions of her mind, 'abhaya' is her assurance against all fears which, embodied in her, are rendered inoperative or to operate only as commanded. Denotative of her boundless power to destroy, Kali's frightening aspect is her power to dispel evil and wicked, and in this the freedom from fear is re-assured. Kali's usual place is a battlefield where all around lay scattered pools of blood, headless torsos, severed heads, arms and other body-parts. When not in battlefield, Kali roams around cremation ground where reigns death's silence except when yelling winds, groans of wailing jackals or sound of fluttering wings of vultures tearing corpses lying around break it. Its abyssal darkness, which flames of pyres occasionally lit, is what suits Kali most. In battlefield or otherwise, she walks on foot. Except rarely when she borrows or forcibly takes Durga's lion or Shiva's Nandi, Kali does not use a mount, an animal or whatever, either to ride or to assist her in her battle. She dances to destroy and under her dancing feet lay the corpse of destruction. Standing or seated, she has under her a sprawling ithyphallic corpse, not lotuses, the favourite seat of most other deities. She stands upon nonexistence – the corpse of the ruined universe, but which nonetheless contains the seed of new birth.

In her imagery while the corpse represents non-existence or ruined universe, Kali's figure engaged in union either with Shiva or his Shava symbolise continuum of creative process. The manifest universe is what veils Time but when Kali, the Power of Time, has destroyed the manifest universe, that veil is lifted and Time, and correspondingly Kali, the Power of Time, is rendered naked, a phenomenon that Kali's naked form denotes.
By nature, Kali is always hungry and never sated. She laughs so loud that all three worlds shake with terror. She dances madly not merely trampling upon corpses but also on the live cosmos reducing it to non-existence. She crushes, breaks, tramples upon and burns her enemies or those of her devotees. Kali is not only a deity of independent nature but is also indomitable, or rather all dominating. She is Shiva-like powerful, unconventional and more at home when dwelling on society's margins. Aspects of nobility or elite life-mode are not her style of life. She is Shiva's consort or companion but not Parvati-like meek and humble. Herself wild and destructive, she incites Shiva to resort to wild, dangerous and destructive behaviour threatening stability of cosmos. Every moment a warrior


Far more than in texts, a huge body of Kali's mythology has evolved in Kali-related tradition. Apart that a rough-cut crude image of Kali painted in black, and the tongue, in blood-red, occupies a corner in every hamlet, even with a dozen hutments, it also abounds in tales of her mysterious powers, both inflicting damage and protecting from harm. More significant is her presence in Indian art where she underlines many important Hindu themes. What sometimes occur in texts as mere epithets of Kali are in Indian arts her well established forms. Mahakali, Bhadrakali, Dakshina Kali, Guhyakali, Shmashana Kali, Bhairavi, Tripura-Bhairavi, Chamunda… are some of her more popular forms in texts as well as art.

In her Mahakali form, an equivalent to Mahakala, the all-powerful aspect of Shiva, who devours time and effects dissolution, Kali is Mahakala's feminine transform. In her form as Mahakali she presides over the Great Dissolution which Shiva in the form of Shava symbolises. In art, Kali invariably enshrines it. Initially, as Mahakali her role was confined to demon-slaying. In Puranas, while still representing dissolution, destruction, death and decay, she more emphatically personified in her being horror, awe and loathsomeness. She still slew demons but mostly when summoned and in subordination. In her form as Chamunda – the slayer of Chanda and Munda, she was most ferocious multi-armed demon-killer. She carried in her hands most deadly weapons and in her eyes a lustre that burnt her enemies.

As Shmashana Kali, a form more popular in Tantrism, Kali haunts cremation ground amidst burning pyres – the interim domain in between this and the next world and where death and dissolution reign.
As Tripura-Bhairavi, consort of death, Kali is conceived with a form wearing a large necklace of human bodies, a shorter one of skulls, a girdle of severed hands, and ear-rings of the corpses of infants. Around her lie a greater number of corpses and feed on them wily jackals and vile vultures. Sometimes in loincloth, Tripura-Bhairavi is more often covered in elephant skin and carries other Shaivite attributes.

Elaborately jeweled Dakshina Kali also wears a long necklace of severed heads, a girdle of unusually small severed arms and a couple of corpses as ear-rings, but instead of being gruesome her figure comprises smooth perfectly proportioned fully exposed youthful limbs. She stands on the body of a supine ithyphallic Shiva stretched out on an already burning pyre in cremation ground where scavenging birds hover and jackals roam. Dakshina Kali carries in one of her hands a sword, in another, a human head, and other two are held in abhaya and varada. Bhadra Kali, the auspicious one, Kali's majestic, benign, benevolent and mild form, has been conceived with arms varying in number usually two to four. She often carries two bowls, one for wine and other for blood. Kali's form that gods, even Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, worship is invariably her Bhadra Kali form. The delightful one, she joyously drinks, dances and sings.
Guhyakali, literally meaning 'Secret Kali', is Kali's esoteric aspect, which only those well versed in the Kali tradition know.

In the related 'Dhyana' – the form that reveals when meditating on her, snakes constitute a significant part of her attire and adornment. Her necklace, sacred thread, girdle, all are made of serpents, and the thousand hooded serpent Ananta makes her umbrella. Apart, her form assimilates other Shaivite attributes to include crescent on her forehead. In visual representation, instead of snakes' pre-eminence, Guhyakali is identified by the Kali-yantra invariably represented along with.


Kali has quite significant place in Yoga and Tantra, though in Yoga her status is not that high as in Tantra. Kundalini-sadhana, kindling of Kundalini – dormant energy seen as black serpent that lies coiled and asleep in the inner body, is the prevalent practice in both but it is the very basis of Yoga. The Yoga perceives Kali as Kundalini Shakti. Kali is thus the basis of Yoga, though beyond such equation it does not involve Kali any further. Tantra seeks its accomplishment in Ten Mahavidyas – the Great Wisdoms, Kali, being the foremost among them, is the most significant deity of Tantra.
Kali's disruptive behaviour, unkempt appearance, confronting activities and involvement with death and defilement are what better suit Tantra, especially the Vamachara Tantrism. Kali's form that contains in an unclean or even unholy body-frame the highest spiritual sanctity helps Tantrika to overcome the conventional notion of clean and unclean, sacred and profane and other dualistic concepts that lead to incorrect nature of reality. Yogini-Tantra, Kamakhya Tantra and Nirvana-Tantra venerate Kali as the supreme divinity and Nirvana-Tantra perceives Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as arising from Kali as arise bubbles from the sea.

To the Tantrika, Kali's black is symbolic of disintegration; as all colours disappear in black, so merge into her all names and forms. Density of blackness – massive, compact and unmixed, represents Pure Consciousness. Kali as Digambari, garbed in space – in her nakedness, free from all covering of illusion, defines to the Tantrika the journey from the unreal to the real. In full breasted Kali, symbolic of her ceaseless motherhood, the Tantrika discovers her power to preserve. Her disheveled hair – elokeshi, are symbolic of the curtain of death which surrounds life with mystery. In her garland of fifty-two human heads, each representing one of the fifty-two letters of Sanskrit alphabets, the Tantrika perceives repository of power and knowledge. The girdle of hands, the principal instrument to work, reveals her power with which the cosmos operates and in her three eyes, its three-aspected activity – creation, preservation and destruction. Both Kali and Tantra are epitome of unity of apparent dualism. As her terrifying image, the negative aspect of her being and thus of the cosmos, is the creative life-force, the source of creation, so in Tantra-sadhana, the journey takes off from the 'material' to the apex – the ultimate.



Many of us are feeling the rage of kali surfacing right now, I remember feeling a huge dose of it over the avoidable oil spill in the Gulf and the revelations of paedophilia in the priesthood, I feel unapologetic in saying that at the time I was so angry, I was having fantasies of torching the Vatican.
This rage rises up out of our innate protective mother instinct, especially when we witness and feel the inhumanity that is taking place towards each other, all other conscious life forms and Mother Earth,

Humanity is still in the archaic clutches of a misguided arrogant illusion of supremacy to the detriment of ourselves, and the very Earth itself, we are destroying that which sustains us through the blindness of greed, intolerance and the lust for power.
Now although men also have the mother instinct of their Divine feminine self (and it becomes more pronounced when they get in touch with their feminine), it is women who have the greater endowment of it, it comes naturally with being female.
So It’s no wonder that we are experiencing the surfacing of tremendous rage, there is much to stir up our protective instincts right now,
we are awakening rapidly and as our hearts are opening, we are feeling a consuming empathy that comes with knowing on a very profound level that we are one with all of life.
This makes our frustration even more painful.
So what do we do with this rage?
How can we channel it?

It is said that Kali without Shiva is out of control, this is when our rage takes the first form of Durga riding on her tiger fiercely attacking the demons with her flaying sword, but she fails because every piece that she chops springs up into a new demon. Her rage is out of control and it’s creating more chaos, it’s not achieving what she ultimately wants to achieve, this is because what we resist persists, judging, blaming, attacking, punishing are all forms of resistance that only create more separation in the world.

So Durga sees the light and she morphs into Kali,
Kali is depicted standing on top of Shiva because he has come alive in form through the feminine and she has integrated his choice-less, pure consciousness within her so now she is animated, she's in possession of the ten powers of the Divine feminine, the Wisdom Goddesses known as the Mahavidyas.

These Goddesses include;

A Goddess of compassion,
A goddess of love and generosity,
A creative, rebel non- conformist,
A headless Goddess who’s transcended the ego,
A sensual young maiden who can see beauty in all things,
An all embracing receptive mother of the Universe,
An old crone who has traversed through the dark night of the soul and emerged as a great teacher for humanity,
A Goddess who upholds the impeccability of her word,
A fierce warrior Goddess who cuts through the bull shit,
And a Goddess who has conquered attachment…

With these ten wisdom Goddesses within her Kali has no need to attack the demons, she slurps them up instead, consumes them and integrates them, makes them whole within herself.
For want of a direction, this is what we need to do with our own rage, imbue it with consciousness so that we can use it’s motivational power but rise above the lower aspects of it,
uplift our perspective out of fear and see the bigger picture,
see the evolution that is taking place and the essential roles of all the players that are enabling it.

The (so called) darkness is bringing forth the light into its full glory, without the contrast of the darkness, the light would never be known. 

The (so called) outer demons are the reflection of the lower aspects within ourselves and they are manifesting outwardly in the world through individual choices and creating the mindless destruction and suffering that we are witnessing right now on the planet,
These demons of the old myth are the parts of us that have not experienced the awakening of the heart, they are stuck in the darkness of ego illusion not realizing that their true identity is love,
but they have the longing for the bliss of that realization, so they attempt to find it through power over others and greed for more stuff.

Compassion is not available to them because this is a quality of an opened heart, so there is this unbridled selfishness, this “I come first” mentality and with it a lack of empathy for others.
There is this illusion that believes that this selfishness will appease the longing, but it never does instead it just becomes a perpetual power game of pumping up a false self image.

This is the root of all the challenges that humanity is experiencing, to such a degree now that the survival of the planet is at stake,
the legend of Durga has come around once again, it is being re-enacted right now, the Gods are desperate, the demons are destroying the earth, they have called in the Divine feminine to conquer them, she’s the one with the keys to the heart, she’s the only one now who can transform the situation, integrate the darkness with the light of the heart.

Women of the world we are the embodiment of the Divine Feminine and we are being called by the Gods (the Divine masculine within) to rise up along side our like minded brothers to bring in the light of love, healing, tolerance, unification, equality, respect for our earth and balance into being,
but our main focus needs to be on addressing the cause of the imbalances which is humanities separation from their higher consciousness.

For our strategy to be in alignment with this higher consciousness we need to embody the qualities of the ten wisdom goddesses, raising awareness within ourselves first, being an example of fierce love in action, being courageous, determined, congruent, compassionate, creative and wise, using our rage that is bursting inside, shouting, “I’ve had enough of this shit!” as a dynamic energy for action, but remaining composed, letting go of the temptation to hate and separate, always remembering the intention for love and healing in all that we do.

Love is what links all of us, and when we activate it in ourselves and extend it through our purpose, we are activating the most powerful force in existence.

Every little contribution that we make to bring more light into this world no matter how small, is valuable, and when we unite with others with the same intention, we become an even greater power.

So what can you do now? You’re not necessarily called to be a social activist trail- blazer but you want to make a difference none the less,
So consider linking up with other women, forming sacred circles wherever you are,
And focus on healing and transforming your own families and communities,
This is where global transformation first starts, within ourselves and in our own back yard.


Carved representation of a naked woman squatting with her knees
apart, displaying her vulva, shown as a vesica piscis or double-pointed
oval. Sometimes the figure presented the vesica with both hands or
drew it open with one. Sheila-na-gig figures appeared all over old Irish
churches built before the 16th century.1 Many were still in place
during the 19th century, but Victorian prudery defaced or destroyed
large numbers of them. Some have been found buried near the
churches they once embellished.2
Sheila-na-gig figures closely resembled the yonic statues of Kali
which still appear at the doorways of Hindu temples, where visitors
lick a finger and touch the yoni ''for luck." Some of the older figures
have deep holes worn in their yonis from much touching.3
The protruding ribcage on many examples of the sheila-na-gig
imitates the figures of Kali as the death-goddess, Kalika, evidently
remembered in Ireland as the Caillech or "Old Woman," who was also
the Creatress and gave birth to all races of men.4 Celts generally
protected doorways with some female-genital fetish, which is why they
settled on the horseshoe, classic Omega-sign of the Kalika. In India it
stood for the feminine cosmos within which Shiva ever performed his
creative sexual dance, although he was assimilated to the Kalika and
given her title of Destroyer. 5
Derivation of the term sheila-na-gig is obscure. It meant something
like "vulva-woman." Gig or giggie meant female genitals and
may have been related to the Irish "jig," from French gigue, in pre-Christian times an orgiastic dance. In ancient Erech a gig seems to
have been a holy yoni; the sacred harlots of the temple were known
as nu-gig.
From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets


The biblical title of Eve, "Mother of All Living," was a translation of
Kali Ma' s title Jaganmata. She was also known in India as Jiva or leva,
the Creatress of all manifested forms. 1 In Assyrian scriptures she was
entitled Mother-Womb, Creatress of Destiny, who made male and
female human beings out of clay, "in pairs she completed them."4
The first of the Bible's two creation myths gives this Assyrian version,
significantly changing "she" to "he" (Genesis l :27).
The original Eve had no spouse except the serpent, a living
phallus she created for her own sexual pleasure. 5 Some ancient
peoples regarded the Goddess and her serpent as their first parents.6
Sacred icons showed the Goddess giving life to a man, while her
serpent coiled around the apple tree behind her.? Deliberate misinterpretation
of such icons produced ideas for revised creation myths like
the one in Genesis. Some Jewish traditions of the first century B.c.,
however, identified Jehovah with the serpent deity who accompanied
the Mother in her garden.8 Sometimes she was Eve, sometimes her
name was given as Nahemah, Naama, or Namrael, who gave birth to
Eve and Adam without the help of any male, even the serpent.9
Because Jehovah arrogantly pretended to be the sole Creator, Eve
was obliged to punish him, according to Gnostic scriptures. Though
the Mother of All Living existed before everything, the God forgot she
had made him and had given him some of her creative power. "He
was even ignorant of his own Mother. ... It was because he was foolish
and ignorant of his Mother that he said, 'I am God; there is none
beside me.'" Gnostic texts often show the creator reprimanded and
punished for his arrogance by a feminine power greater and older
than himself.

The secret of God's "Name of power," the Tetragrammaton,
was that three-quarters of it invoked not God, but Eve. YHWH, yodhe-
vau-he, came from the Hebrew root HWH, meaning both "life"
and "woman"-in Latin letters, E-V-E.16 With the addition of an I
(yod), it amounted to the Goddess's invocation of her own name as the
Word of creation, a common idea in Egypt and other ancient lands. 17
Gnostic scriptures said Adam was created by the power of Eve's
word, not God's. She said, "Adam, live! Rise up upon the earth!" As
soon as she spoke the word, her word became reality. Adam rose up and
opened his eyes. "When he saw her, he said, 'You will be called "the
mother of the living," because you are the one who gave me life.'" 18
Adam's name meant he was formed of clay moistened with blood,
the female magic of adamah or "bloody clay." 19 He didn't produce
the Mother of All Living from his rib; in earlier Mesopotamian stories,
he was produced from hers. (See Birth-giving, Male.) His Babylonian
predecessor Adapa (or Adamu) was deprived of eternal life not by
the Goddess, but by a hostile God.

The biblical idea was a reversal of older myths in which the
Goddess brought forth a primal male ancestor, then made him her
mate-the ubiquitous, archetypal divine-incest relationship traceable in
every mythology. The reversal was not even original with biblical
authors. It was evolved by Aryan patriarchs who called Brahma the
primal male ancestor. They claimed their god brought forth the
Mother of All Living from his own body, then mated with her, so she
gave birth to the rest of the universe. 20 In the Hebraic version, a
wombless God made his offspring with his hands, and the actual birthgiving
was left to Adam. The Bible as revised by patriarchal scribes
said nothing about a divine birth-giving, since the scribes were determined
to separate the concepts of"deity" and "mother" insofar as

Gnostic scriptures however reverted to the older tradition and
said Eve not only created Adam and obtained his admission to heaven;
she was the very soul within him, as Shakti was the soul of every
Hindu god and yogi. Adam couldn't live without "power from the
Mother," so she descended to earth as "the Good Spirit, the
Thought of Light called by him 'Life' (Hawwa)." She entered into
Adam as his guiding spirit of conscience: "It is she who works at the
creature, exerts herself on him, sets him in his own perfect temple,
enlightens him on the origin of his deficiency, and shows him his
(way of) ascent." Through her, Adam was able to rise above the
ignorance imposed on him by the male God.

By this Gnostic route came the Midrashic assertion that Adam and
Eve were originally androgynous, like Shiva and his Shakti. She dwelt
in him, and he in her; they were two souls united in one body, which
God later tore apart, depriving them of their bliss of union. Cabalists
took up the idea and said the paradise of Eden can be regained only
when the two sexes are once more united; even God must be united
with his female counterpart, the heavenly Eve called Shekina.22
Another Gnostic version of the story made God a true villain, who
cursed Adam and Eve and expelled them from paradise out of
jealousy of their happiness. He also lusted after the Virgin Eve, raped
her, and begot her sons Jahveh and Elohim, whose other names were Cain and Abel. Here was one of several myths that made Eve the
mother not only of Adam, but also ofJehovah, and of all the
elements as well._The myth went on to say the first of Eve's offspring
ruled the male elements of fire and air; the second ruled the female
elements of earth and water. 23
Like her prototype Kali Jaganmata, Eve brought forth death as
well as life-that is, she brought forth all living forms, all of which
were subject to death for the very reason that they were alive. Under
patriarchal systems of belief, the fact that every living thing is doomed
to die was blamed on the Mother who gave it a finite life. Instead of
blaming God for casting Adam out of the paradise where he might
have lived forever, the patriarchs blamed Eve for bringing this about.
The Wisdom ofJesus ben Sirach said evil began with Woman (Eve):
"because of her we all die." 24 Fathers of the Christian church said Eve
conceived by the serpent and brought forth Death. The seeds of all
women already existed in Eve, St. John Chrysostom maintained, so that
in her sin "the whole female race transgressed." 25
The Book of Enoch said God created death to punish all humanity
for Eve's sin, but many patriarchal thinkers hesitated to blame God
even indirectly. The prevalent opinion was that when Eve disobeyed
the deity, death somehow just happened.26 St. Paul blamed only Eve,
absolving Adam from guilt for the apple-eating incident: "Adam was not
deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression" (I
Timothy 2: 14). A church council announced in 418 A.D. that it was
heresy to say death was a natural necessity rather than the result of
Eve's disobedience.27
This was the real origin of the church fathers' fear and hatred of
women, which expanded into a sexist attitude that permeated all of
western society: Woman was identified with Death. Her countervailing
responsibility for birth was taken away, and the creation of life was
laid to the credit of the Father-god, whose priests claimed he could
remove the curse of death. As every woman was understood to be an
emanation of Eve, Tertullian said to Everywoman:
And do you not know that you are an Eve? The sentence of God on this
sex of yours lives in this age; the guilt must of necessity live too. You
are the devil's gateway . .. the first deserter of the divine law; you are she
who persuaded him whom the devil oos not valiant enough to attack.
You destroyed so easily God's image, man. On account of your desertthat
is, death, even the Son of God had to die. 28
Medieval theologians said Adam was forgiven. Christ descended
into hell and rescued Adam along with other biblical patriarchs. He
escorted Adam into heaven, saying, "Peace be to thee and to all the
just among thy sons." 29 But for Eve there was no forgiveness. No peace
was offered to her or her daughters. Presumably, they were left
behind in hell. Christian theologians espoused the same theory as
Persian patriarchs, that heaven was closed to all women except those
who were submissive and worshipped their husbands as gods. 30 Even
modern theologians naively blame human death on the Edenic sin.
Rahner said, "Man's death is the demonstration of the fact that he has
fallen away from God .... Death is guilt made visible.'' 31 Theologians
have not yet dealt with the question of what "guilt" causes death
among non-human creatures.
Actually, churches depend for their very existence on the orthodox
myth of Eve. "Take the snake, the fruit-tree, and the woman from
the tableau, and we have no fall, no frowning Judge, no Inferno, no
everlasting punishment-hence no need of a Savior. Thus the
bottom falls out of the whole Christian theology." 32
Equally destructive to Christian theology would be restoration of
books arbitrarily excluded from the canon, such as the Apocalypse of
Adam, in which Adam stated that he and Eve were created together but
she was his superior. She brought with her "a glory which she had
seen in the aeon from which we had come forth. She taught me a word
of knowledge .... And we resembled the great eternal angels, for we
were higher than the God who had created us.'' 33
Some of these once-sacred books made Eve superior to both Adam
and the creator. It was she, not God, who gave Adam his soul and
brought him to life. It was she, not God, who cast down the evil deities
from heaven and made them demons. And she, as the eternal female
Power, would eventually judge the God she created, find him guilty of
injustice, and destroy him. 34
As an allegory, this might reflect a social truth. Fragile constructs
of the collective mind, gods are easily destroyed by those who ignore
them. Early Gnostic documents show that most women of the ancient
world were disposed to ignore the God who was said to have cursed
their sex and their descendants forever. Had one of the other versions of
the Eve myth prevailed over the canonical version, sexual behavior
patterns in western civilization almost certainly would have evolved
along very different lines. Christianity managed to project man's fear
of death onto woman, not to respect her as Kali the Destroyer was
respected, but to hate her. . . · .
The uncanonical scriptures were no more and no less creditable
than the canonical ones. Their picture of Eve as God's stern mother,
the defender of mankind against a tyrannical demon-deity, had more
adherents in the early Christian centuries than the picture that is now
familiar. One of Christianity's best-kept secrets was that the Mother of
All Living was the Creatress who chastised God.

One of her Tantric
names was Adita Eva:
"the Very
Beginning." 2 In
northern Babylonia,
Eve was known as "the
divine Lady of
Eden," or "Goddess of
the Tree of Life." 3
Assyrians called her
Nin-Eveh, "Holy
Lady Eve," after whom
their capital city was
Eve was one of the
common MiddleEastern
names of the
superior feminine
power. To the
Hittites, she was
Hawwah, "Life." 11
To the Persians, she
was Hvov, "the
Earth."12 Aramaeans
called her Hawah,
"Mother of All
Living." 13 In
Anatolia she was Hebat
or Hepat, with a
Greek derivative Hebe,
"Virgin Mother
Earth," with the same
relationship to the
Great Goddess Hera as
Kore-Persephone to
Demeter, and Hebe
may have been an
eponymous ancestress
of "Hebrews." A
semitic root of her
names was hayy, a
matrilineal kinship
group, once
considered the "life" of
every tribe by direct
descent from the
Creatress. 14 The
names of Eve, the
Serpent, and "Life"
are still derived from the
same root in


Literally, a man made of blood; in pre-biblical myths, a creature
formed by the Goddess of Earth from her own clay (adamah), given life
by her blood. (See Eve.) The idea of Adam's rib was taken from a
Sumerian Goddess who formed infants' bones from their mothers' ribs.
She was both Lady of the Rib, and Lady of Life. Her name carried
both meanings at once.1
From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

 Kwai-Yin / Kuan-Yin

Eponymous Great Mother of China, known as the Lady Who Brings
Children; embodiment of the yin principle, as Kali embodied the yoni
principle in India. Kwai-Yin perpetually contemplated the Golden
Vial of her own womb, which produced the entire world while her
consort Shang-te (Father Heaven) lived within her in a Chinese
version of the Jewel in the Lotus. Kwai-Yin and her Japanese counterpart
Kwannon represented the principle of karuna, Boundless

From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

Ceann CaillĂ­ ('Hag's Head'), the southernmost tip of the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. One of many locations named for the Cailleach.


Old Celtic name for Kali-the-Crone, the Great Goddess in her
Destroyer aspect. Like Kali, the Caillech was a black Mother who
founded many races of people and outlived many husbands. She was
also a creatress. She made the world, building mountain ranges of stones
that dropped from her apron. 1
Scotland was once called Caledonia: the land given by Kali, or
Cale, or the Caillech. "Scotland" came from Scotia, the same
Goddess, known to Romans as a "dark Aphrodite"; to Celts as Scatha or
Scyth; and to Scandinavians as Skadi. 2
Like the Hindus' destroying Kalika, the Caillech was known as a .
spirit of disease. One manifestation of her was a famous idol of carved
and painted wood, kept by an old family in County Cork, and described
as the Goddess of Smallpox. As diseased persons in India sacrificed to
the appropriate incarnation of the Kalika, so in Ireland those afflicted by
smallpox sacrificed sheep to this image.3 It can hardly be doubted that
Kalika and Caillech were the same word.
According to various interpretations, caillech meant either an old
woman, or a hag, or a nun, or a "veiled one." 4 This last apparently
referred to the Goddess's most mysterious manifestation as the future,
Fate, and Death-ever veiled from the sight of men, since no man
could know the manner of his own death.
In medieval legend the Caillech became the Black Queen who
ruled a western paradise in the Indies, where men were used in
Amazonian fashion for breeding purposes only, then slain. Spaniards
called her Califia, whose territory was rich in gold, silver, and gems.
Spanish explorers later gave her name to their newly discovered paradise
on the Pacific shore of North America, which is how the state of
California came to be named after Kali.
In the present century, Irish and Scottish descendants of the Celtic
"creatress" still use the word caillech as a synonym for "old
From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets


"Lady of the Serpent Skirt," mother of all Aztec deities as well as of
the sun, the moon, and the stars. She produced all earthly life, and
received the dead back again into her body. She was associated with
volcanic mountains. Like Kali she wore a necklace of skulls, and a skirt
of either serpents or shorn penises of her castrated savior-lovers. Her
daughter Xochiquetzal, the Mexican Aphrodite, was a Goddess of All

From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

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