Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kali Yuga

I love this painting I did for my (never published) Tarot deck, although most people I've shown it to ignore it as uncomfortable, unaesthetic, not "light".  But to me it perfectly embodies the card The Hanged Man, which to me always meant something like "enlightenment or deepening of self through suffering".  Here a soldier, exhausted by the horror of war, is beyond the masks of his circumstance, beyond pain and has had a breakthrough into another state of being.  I think I was originally inspired to create this image by Apocalypse Now, the Martin Sheen film about Vietnam.

I try to keep this blog positive, and inspiring.  But as the Equinox approaches, the Day of Balance, I find it hard, frankly, to find my own balance today.  A week ago, if Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis can be considered into the equation, the living Earth, whose very climate we are changing, suddenly shuddered and moaned, and a vast wave engulfed one of the most densely populated islands in the world.  And now, again, the unfathomable destruction of a nuclear disaster burns into the very ground and water and air of that beautiful country.  And this, like everything else, is not some isolated "incident" somewhere far away in the Pacific ocean.  Because the water, and the earth, and the air sustains all of us;  this "incident" affects all of us, and those who are yet unborn.  Another wake up call for a global humanity.  "Wake up!"  "Wake up!  The time is now!"

And what do I read about in the news this morning?  My own country, also suffering environmental degradation and a depression, bankrupt, with thousands of young veterans returning with no jobs and post-traumatic stress syndrome and no money to even re-integrate them back into society,  losing its schools, its daycare centers, its hospitals, and its getting ready to engage in yet another civil war in yet another Middle Eastern country.  Just what we need.   More war.   A real survival logic.

It seems that the patriarchal mind has only one solution to all problems, whether global or local:  "If in doubt, go to war!  That will surely make everything better!"

I have been so confused by the strange passivity of our time - but I'm old Berkeley activist, now kind of beached on the shores of this desert town, growing old and caring for my very elderly mother, and often feeling that I'm useless.  It's very strange sometimes to be a true child of the 60's in today's world.  For example,  I remember marching against the Vietnam War in San Francisco with 300,000 people in 1970, and I remember sleeping in Golden Gate Park that night, with thousands of others in sleeping bags.  I remember marching again against the invasion of Iraq in 2003 in San Francisco, again with 300,000 people.  

What good did either war do?  We fought in Vietnam to "save the world from Communist China".  I find no small irony to consider that they now have most of our manufacturing, and subsidize current wars with their loans.  And what about Iraq?  So many lives........

And I remember, in 2009, marching with 300 people at the White House on the anniversary of the 2001 War (yes, ten years now) - and that time, the media followed our pitiful little group around and snickered at us, as if we were "kooks", as if the very idea of protesting war, and advocating for peace, was on the same level as people who believe in Atlantis or UFO's or burn bras (not that I haven't done all of that as well).  That shocked me.  Truly shocked me. 

"Kali is so much about contemporary life.  Women need to become angry. About the women of Afghanistan, the meaningless wars, the destruction of our environment.  The demons of insatiable greed that are devouring our planet. Those who await the future are being denied their birthright. Kali is the catalyst for saying "No more".  It's time to embrace the sword of Kali and cut away the delusions that are destroying our world. Kali is the ferocious mother who says "get away from my children, or I'll kill you."  

Drissana Devananda

Kali Yantra

It's the time of the Dark Goddess.  The Kali Yuga.   It's the time of Kali, the one who breaks through the illusion, the one who shatters the delusions, the psychic surgeon who ends denial, the Mother of those who are Yet to Come.   

If our evolving global civilization has currently had amnesia about the continuity and interdependency of life, and does not practice the Lakota ideal  of acting for "7 generations" - Kali's dance will re-mind us.  I believe that this "shadow work" is what is going on very much right now, individually, and collectively, and I hope my friends who may read this, and other thoughts in the future, will not be alarmed if my focus is on the Dark Goddess for a while.  I believe it's Her time, and She may just very well be, as Kali was in Hindu mythology, the last ditch savior.  

The Dark Goddess is about restoring the balance, the integral force of true maturation.
"The Dark Goddess, who is found in many cultures by many names, is not aspected lightly.  Working with Her calls forth one's internal capacity for psychic empowerment. I found myself wanting to slide away when it brought my own way of being to the surface."
Ann Waters
In Hindu mythology, there came a time when the world was being destroyed by demons, and the Gods waged a great war against them, all to no avail.  Finally, the great Goddess Durga manifested from her being the terrible Goddess Kali, and Kali was the only one who was able to overcome the demons, and save the world.  In many iconic Hindu images Kali is shown with a necklace of severed heads, a tounge protruding in laughter or in battle lust.  In her rage she could not be stopped, and so her consort, Lord Shiva, lay down before her, and it was only then, when she realized it was his body she danced upon, that she ceased her dance of destruction.  

Kali is a complex Goddess, worshipped widely in India, and very important to Bengalese tantra. To Westerners, she is strange Icon - but upon reflection, Kali represent to her followers the Primal Mother, who gives life and takes it back as well.   Her name means both "black", "dark", and "formless", as well as "Time". In the Mahanirvana-tantra, Kali is one of the epithets for the primordial sakti, and in one ancient  passage the God Shiva praises her thus**:
"At the dissolution of things, it is Kala [Time] Who will devour all, and by reason of this He is called Mahakala [an epithet of Lord Shiva], and since Thou devourest Mahakala Himself, it is Thou who art the Supreme Primordial Kalika. Because Thou devourest Kala, Thou art Kali, the original form of all things, and because Thou art the Origin of and devourest all things Thou art called the Adya [primordial Kali]. Resuming after Dissolution Thine own form, dark and formless, Thou alone remainest as One ineffable and inconceivable. Though having a form, yet art Thou formless; though Thyself without beginning, multiform by the power of Maya, Thou art the Beginning of all, Creatrix, Protectress, and Destructress that Thou art"

Once upon a time the world became overpopulated by demons.
They filled the world with their copious greed,
and reproduced themselves endlessly.
They had become, in other words,
full of themselves.
They consumed the light of day, they soiled the air
they ate the trees, they swallowed the waters
they devoured the lands with their insatiable greed

Until there were no more things of beauty made,
or new dreams dreamed, or children born.

The unborn ones called to me
The ones yet to come.
The time had come
to say Enough.
And No More.

I, I am the Goddess of No More

I, I  am the shadow of all those
who cannot remember
how to say enough
and No More

I, I am the Mother
of those
who are yet to come

Jai Ma
Kali Ma

Lauren Raine (Performance, 1999)


T said...

I am so with you, Lauren, anti war activist of the 60s. It's revolting, what's happening. We've got a post going up on it tomorrow. I'm ready for the "feminine" solution to problems. Get rid of the pentagon, for starters.

And I love your hanged man card. It fits that archetype to a T.

sukipoet said...

wow, so much here in this post. the tarot card is hard to look at, i guess that is the idea. we must look at hard to look at things to regain a balance and sanity.

And when we can do this and can walk through the fire, we find enlightenment.

the greed and acquisitiveness of the contemporary world is shocking. I was not a 60's activist in actions, but certainly embraced the 60's philosophy and way of living:burn bra's etc and sustainable living. plus lived in Frisco in 1967.

two things: I am reading a biography of JD Salinger who was a soldier in WWII. I had no idea and quite a bit of time is spent on this time of his life. All the while, he was also writing his stories. Amazing really.

Second: you are experiencing something similar to what I recently (in the past three years ) experienced. I moved away from my beloved Cape Cod and all my friends and the ocean to come up to cold New Hampshire to care for my 90 year old mom. I just moved in with her, as I owned no home. Put my things in storage. An amazing experience being with her during her last year. But somehow since her death I have become stuck here, living in her house now owned by my brother. how to get unstuck? at any rate, many blessings upon you for taking care of your dear mom. Suki

Lauren Raine said...

Thanks Trish and Suki. I guess this is a bit of an explosion on my part....but increasingly I feel this is what I need to think and write about.

What a difficult and generous thing for you to have done, Suki. Cape Cod is a vibrant place, how you must miss it. I hope you can find a way to become "unstuck"......I think it's very important to be in places that our spirits love.

Valerianna said...

Kali/Durga has sure been in my consciousness of late. I, too, just wrote a post about not being able to find my ground. I didn't go into the specifics - both personal and planetary. So many women I speak to this week are in this state. It is a strange, apathetic time.... where we are going, I do wonder. Equinox blessings.

Demelza said...

I loved your post - It really resonated with me. I have read about the Kali Yuga before, and it's a scary thing for our time to be associated with. What really gets me is how stupid it all is. Here in the UK, just beginning to come out of the depressions, our new government decides we have no money and cuts a huge chunk of public funding all across the country - education, hospitals, bursaries, libraries, public transport etc. And then it decides, let's go to war!! What!? It's awful. Since when is war going to solve anything, especially when your own country is in such a mess? It's incredible that the world keeps repeating the same stupid mistakes,the same stupid greediness and stupidly forgetting about the environment as soon as they realise money can be made out of not caring.
If we don't change our ways, I think the earth is just going to keep kicking our asses until we are extinct.

Lauren Raine said...

hello Demelza,

I agree with you, of course, and thank you for your honest comments. We really do need to see the ways in which many of our values are backwards. "Saving the Earth" is an arrogance on our part. As the tsunami demonstates, if Gaia rolls a shoulder, our cities fall. We are not masters of nature, we are one of the experiments of the planetary evolution. That evolution will continue, with or without us....I believe our job is to attune ourselves with the planet, so that instead of becoming extinct (and sadly taking so many other evolving lifeforms with us)....we can become truly attuned and co-evolutionary.