Goddess Column: Kali

Goddess Columns brought to you by Gabriela Herstik

Cover image of Body of Sarz by Alexandra Kacha


We are divine, multidimensional beings. To ignore our darkness is to dismiss our depths. When we view our fullest embodiments as sacred, including our darkness, our rage, our shadows, we’re ignoring what it means to be human, what it means to be a soul, what it means to be both soft and sharp. Kali consciousness is the need to protect, even when it calls for confrontation. Kali is the divine mother and the celestial void, transcending the notion that to be good is to be soft and submissive. She invites us into the darkness so we can see ourselves as the limitless beings we are. The Hindu goddess sticks her long tongue out at all those who doubt her power. But Kali is compassionate and loving; the only thing she’s worried about destroying is ego.

Kali wears a garland of skulls and a skirt of arms because ego arises when we identify with the body. She’s not here for that.Kali skin is black like midnight to represent the void from which she emerges, from where we come and from what we return to. There is no time to identify with the flesh in her world. Kali is a fiercely protective and devoted mother goddess who stands with her searing eyes glued to anyone who threatens her children- you are never alone when Kali’s around. And though her iconography may make her seem like a goddess of death or war, the truth is Kali isn’t and she isn’t evil. She’s a compassionate caretaker who is here for when you want to destroy ego, burn away what’s no longer serving you and start on a path with fierce dedication. Ja Kali Maa!

Sacred symbols and offerings

Working and honoring a goddess is more than anything, a relationship. A really beautiful way to start this connection is to create an altar in dedication of a deity. This will serve as an energetic focal point for your work with a goddess. Here you can pray, leave offerings, work magick and focus on your work and intention. Creating an altar is a deeply intentional and personal act and will hopefully help you create an intimate relationship with Kali. Ask yourself what you can do to foster your relationship with Kali. For example, you can: buy a five day candle to light everyday while you say mantras or pray to her. You can leave an offering of flowers, sweets or wine for her. You can have a journal in which you write in her honor, or channel messages from her. You can print out a photo of her or buy a statue of her and place it on your altar. You can work with stones like tourmaline, onyx and obsidian that are black like Kali’s skin. Your creativity and inspiration is always a guiding force in working with goddesses.

Crystals: Black tourmaline, onyx, obsidian, snowflake obsidian, smoky quartz, carnelian- stones that absorb negative energy, clear your aura, ground you in your sensuality and transmute destructive chaos into creativity and organization.

Colors: Black like the void, gray like ashes, red and orange like the colors of fire.

Scents: Nag Champa incense, copal, anything that makes you feel powerful and capable.

Sacred associations: The sword which Kali holds in her hands is the sword of knowledge, destroying ego with one swift cut. Kali is also associated with time, or rather timelessness, like the void she comes from. Kali’s three eyes see into the past, present and future. You can also place black candles on your altar in Kali’s honor and name.

Offerings: Offerings of fresh fruit, sweets, sweet breads, liquor, wine flowers and honey can be left for Kali. Offering up what no longer serves you is also a way to honor the divine mother.

A meditation to meet the void

In this meditation we’ll be exploring dis-identity in the void by examining how we can release identification of our body and time, and instead connect to universal and Kali consciousness.

Find a comfortable position and then start to notice your breath. Allow yourself to make any noises or movements until you feel totally comfortable. Allow everything else to fall away. Imagine that you’re in a natural setting, somewhere real or imaginary like a field. All of the sudden you see a door. This is the door into the void. If you need, you can take some time to explore your physical form. Are you able to see your body? If not no worries. Take some time to explore the door in front of you, of what it’s made of and how it makes you feel. And then step through it. You can’t see anything; it’s black. Take the void in; yours won’t look like anyone else’s. What does it feel like? Are you able to see any parts of your body? Here time and space don’t exist. It is only the all-knowing, all-seeing, timeless, vast, immortal soul that lives on. Take some time to explore this and what the void holds for you. You can call to Kali and talk to her. Ask her questions and tell her what you plan to release. When you’re ready you may step back through the door you came from and open your eyes.

Mantras: If it doesn’t serve me, I let it go.

Ja Kali Maa (victory to mother kali).

Om Shri Kalikayai Namah (om and salutations to kali).

Om Kali Ma (om to mother kali)

Dancing hands by Charlotte Rudolph, 1928

A fire burning ritual

By destroying what no longer serves us and releasing it to the universe, and Kali, we’re creating space for what we want more of, for what feels good. This simple fire burning ritual is paired with candle magick to continue the magick up until the new moon.

This ritual is best done on the full or waning moon

You’ll need: A pen and paper, a fire safe bowl, sage, a lighter and a black candle and white candle (votive or chime.)

Cleanse and clear your space

First things first- time to get your space set up. Let any roomies or partners know you shouldn’t be disturbed, take care of pets, put some music on, turn off your phone and get your supplies together. Burn some sage and let the smoke clear the energy of your space. Make sure you have a safe space to burn some ish up and then find a comfortable seat.

Ground and set your intention

Once you’re in a comfortable seat, start to find your breath. Feel the earth supporting you as you sit and relax. Breathe into this. Imagine the base of your spine moving like roots into the earth, bringing a warm, white energy up through your spine through the top of your head. This connects to the white light of the universe above you, meeting the energy from below at your heart. Connect to this space, breathing into it. You can invite Kali to connect with you at this time, or call to her so she knows your intention to work together.

Once you feel connected this sacred energy, start to form your intention. Your releasing a part of yourself to Kali. You’re allowing her to burn through what’s no longer serving you, and she will. What patterns are no longer working? What toxic relationships or stories are you ready to release? Keep this in your mind.

Write it out and release to Kali

Once you have your intention in mind, it’s time to write it down. Write what you’re releasing in present tense, like “ I release” or “I offer up to Kali”. Be honest and spend as much time as you need here, getting really clear about what’s no longer serving you. You can also write this in the form of a letter (like to a person, especially if you’re ridding yourself of a toxic relationship) or in a poem if that’s what flows from you. Once you’re ready, call to Kali. Tell her that you’re honoring her by sacrificing this thing that no longer works for you. Kali’s always down to help you destroy attachments to ego.

Now comes the fun. Tear up the paper and then light it on fire. Talk to Kali as you’re doing this, if it feels right. Tell her how you’re feeling. Relight the papers as many times as you need until there’s only ash left. Sit with these feelings as long as you need. Then sprinkle some of the ashes on top of the black candle and white candle*.

Keep the ritual going with candles

Place the candles somewhere you can relight them every day up until the new moon if possible**. An altar for Kali would make a great home for them. Light the candles, black for absorbing negative energy and white for attracting positive energy, for the fierce duality of Kali. Gaze at the flames, imagining whatever you released before burning away and being destroyed by Kali. Stay here as long as you need.

Ground and release

Once you feel complete in this ritual, it’s time to ground, baby! Find a comfortable seat like before and start to reconnect with your breath. Imagine the cord or roots moving back into the base of your spine, and the warm energy of your heart melting back into the earth. Press your forehead into the earth like in child’s pose, imagining any excess or stuck energy moving back into the earth. Breathe into this space, drink some water, eat some food, thank Kali and enjoy!

*When you’re done with the ritual you can either flush the remaining ash away or throw it to the wind.

**Light the candles for a little bit each day up until the new moon, if they’re done before then dispose of them on the new moon at a a crossroads or a garbage can at an intersection.

Chakrub- Xaga

Made with powerful black obsidian, this Chakrub has Kali written all over it. One of the most protective stones, work with this Chakrub to help release and destroy what’s no longer serving you. Call on Kali and the Xaga for self-compassion through the shadows. Try offering up any old patterns that are no longer serving you to the Goddess while making self-love and transmute this into pleasure. Turn a little death into ego death with this powerful stone and Kali as your guide.