Kali: The Persistent Visionary

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Kali is considered the fiercest of the Hindu goddesses and is often referred to as the goddess of death. She is generally depicted as a blue-skinned warrior wearing a skull necklace and a skirt of dismembered limbs. Two of her four hands hold a severed head and a sword. Her other two hands are empty, ready to bless those who turn to her. Upon first meeting Kali, her image and symbolism may be frightening. For me though, I see her as a loving visionary.

I routinely welcome her presence in my life to challenge my belief systems, question my perceptions, and shake me to my core so I don’t get too comfortable in my patterns. She does all of this in a seemingly destructive manner, but in truth, the breaking down part (the death) is only the beginning. What follows is a restructuring of values and beliefs, an opening to others’ perceptions, a strengthening of relationships with myself and others, and new routines and flows to move through. I’d be specific with all that shifts as a result of Kali’s presence, but it literally changes every single day.

As a result of this loving interpretation of Kali, I depicted her face and arms as part of the Tree of Life. The Tree appears to be dying and in flames, but in reality, beauty is right behind, flowing up through the roots.

And although her face is blue-skinned and flaming with her wild tongue sticking out, I made one of her fiery eyes winking. It’s as if she’s saying, “I know I’m supposed to be all mean and scary, but if you promise to keep it quiet, I’ll let you in on my little secret.”

The original piece measures 24 x 48″ and consists of oil paint and found objects. Completed 2007. It is not for sale, but images can be purchased at Fine Art America or RedBubble.

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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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