The fierce goddess Kali is time itself; she stands for change, transformation, liberation and destruction. Time is the power of change that forces all living things to grow and develop. ‘why should we look on time as a goddess or a feminine form?’ asks David Frawley in his book on the wisdom goddesses: ‘[because] Time is not a mere abstract continuum in which things occur, it is a living field, a conscious energy, a matrix, a vortex. Time is the great womb … Time is the working out of the cosmic intelligence, it is the very breath of the cosmic spirit … the very stuff of experience, the rhythm of our lives. What are we apart from time? Time is our mother and origin as well as our final abode’
Kali teaches us about time as an inescapable power. Kali is also time and change from the perspective of cyclical knowledge: for the way that time is measured out in women’s lives is through the repetition of cycles,each on the same from those before and afterward. When we place this powerful goddess as the protective entity around the cycles of our lives, we embrace the inevitability of change as a potential for great wisdom and understanding. Kali, in her closeness to death and darkness, shows us the necessity for self-acceptance and surrender. She is the maha-maha-siddhi, the greatest of all great powers.
She is depicted as a dark blue-skinned goddess, standing or dancing triumphantly with her feet on the body of the dead Siva, wearing a garland of severed heads and a skirt of human arms. In the first of her four arms she carries a severed human head by its hair, the neck dripping blood; and in the second she wields a bloody chopper; whilst the fourth and fifth hands display gesture to dispel fear and to grant wishes. As she laughs, her long tongue rolls right out and her eyes stare. She is the image of immense power, with the murderous capacity to terrify. Her gory accrouments, in particular the severed heads, all signify her capacity to separate us from the limitations of ‘I-am-this-body’ ego identifications, in order that we might live in freedom.
Reorganised text from Yoni Shakti by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli p.225.