Kali and the Desentimentalizing of Mother Earth, continued

We continue meditating on the dark goddess Kali, this time with mystical scholar and activist Andrew Harvey, who though British grew up in India, the land of Kali and the Great Mother.

Return of the Mother by Andrew Harvey

In his classic work, The Return of the Mother, he has this to teach about Kali: 

The last thing we need also is a sentimental vision of her [the Great Mother].  The Mother is Kali as well as Mary, the killer as well as the nurturer.  Her love can kill to create or destroy, to rebuild or illumine, and death and intense suffering are also part of her alchemy. 

Of course, we enter the realm of metaphor and archetype when we talk about Kali or any other spiritual being, but metaphors and symbols after all are the stuff of all art and religion and arousal to prophetic action and for that matter to contemplation.  Remembering Kali assists us to understand the global moment we currently find ourselves in where death seems to be striking people indiscriminately.

Harvey continues his teaching on Kali:

Anger is also vividly present in her, sometimes terrifyingly present.  Don’t the earthquakes, climactic changes, and natural disasters all over the globe show us that the earth, our Mother, is angry and getting angrier? 

But there exist very different kinds of anger. 

“Kali 2015,” (c) Lauren Raine of Masks of the Goddess. Used with permission.

But let us never forget that the anger of the Mother is a necessary stern warning—not vengeance, not punishment, not rejection: there is a fundamental different between the anger of the Mother aspect of God and the anger of the Father aspect. 

There is nothing punitive at all in the Mother’s anger.  Her rage is a summons to attention, a shaking of her children so that they can have a chance to wake up, a shaking that can seem—and be—very violent, but which is always in the service of liberation and deeper knowledge and the outpouring into action of a galvanized love.

In the West the Black Madonna parallels the Kali energy of the East and she too is about waking people up.  One of the symbols of the Black Madonna, which derives from Africa’s goddess Isis, is that she wears a headdress that includes a bell!  What is that about?  It is about waking people and their institutions up! 

It is like a fire alarm, it is, as Harvey puts it above, a summons to attention, a shaking of her children in the service of liberation deeper knowledge and outpouring into action of a galvanized love.

The power of the Black Madonna overcomes the plague in this scene from Alessandra Belloni‘s Tarantella Spider Dance production (2013)

Think of it – a “galvanized love”—a return to community and caring, to our divine-like powers of compassion and healing, a movement beyond nationalisms and jingoisms and patriarchal games of power-over instead of power-with and passion-with (compassion) and a respect for what science can do.

Might the global threat of the coronavirus contribute in profound ways to a more mature humanity? 

Might this moment prove to be a moment of our species growing up? 

See Andrew Harvey, The Return of the Mother, pp. 33f.

See also “The Green Man and the Black Madonna: Sacred Marriage of Nature,” in Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp.  231-244.

Banner Image: “Black Tara” by dharma artist Jack Niland, 1971. Black Tara is honored both in Hindu tradition, where she is a warrior daughter of Kali, and in Buddhist tradition, where she represents the enlightened activity of anger.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you recognize the two kinds of anger that Harvey names, that of punitive patriarchy and that of summoning us to attention?  Which anger moves you the deepest?  Which brings alive in you a “galvanized love”?

Recommended Reading

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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6 thoughts on “Kali and the Desentimentalizing of Mother Earth, continued”

  1. Carol Kilby

    What a gift to name these fierce times when the Coronavirus is shaking the World to waken and recognize our vulnerability as the power and presence of Kali, The Black Madonna, Haig, (spelling?)isis, Pelle! And a gift to think of these times as call to mature, and grow up into our human potential, into the adult stage of our species. Thanks again.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Carol,
      Thank you for reminding those of us who are contemplating the meaning and ecological impact of the Coronavirus pandemic that whether or not we contract the virus, a mature response is needed to grow through it. What a stroke of dark and divine genius! Kali has invented a disorienting and destructive chaos that requires us to mature very fast if we are going to survive. In the process, the ecological crisis has shifted. May our maturity increase enough to handle that crisis as well.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  2. Avatar

    These are powerful meditations. Thank you. I think a “galvanized love” has been spreading since the increasing depredations of the US administration on all creation and all creatures.

      1. Gail Sofia Ransom

        Dear Sue,
        Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts. Do these meditations cause you to consider allowing some of that tough feminine force to run through you as well? At this point in time, We need women who are both fierce and fair.
        Gail Sofia Ransom
        For the Daily Meditation Team

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