India is the only country where the Goddess is still widely worshipped today, in a tradition that dates to the Harappan culture of c.3000 BC and earlier; Kali's origins can be traced to African sources.
Kali , one of the most important tantric Das Mahavidyas, in her negative aspect appears as a conglomeration of terrifying elements. Kali is the first encounter with the female energy of the Inner Higher Self.
Though Kali is represented in symbols, their real meaning is not what it first appears to be, the meaning have historical and metaphysical significances.
Kali is the symbol of the active cosmic power of eternal time (or the Mistress of the cause of worldly changes) she symbolizes annihilation: all beings and all things must yield and in this aspect.
The image of Kali is generally represented as black: Just as all colors disappear in black, so all names and forms disappear in her (Maharirvana Tantra). In tantric rituals she is described as garbed in space, sky-clad. In her absolute, primordial nakedness, she is free from all covering of illusion.
She is nature (Prakriti), stripped of clothes. She is full- breasted; her motherhood is a ceaseless creation. She gives birth to the cosmos parthen ogenetically, as she contains the male principle within herself.
Her disheveled hair forms a curtain of illusion, the fabric of space-time, which organizes matter out of the chaotic sea of quantum-foam.
Her garland of fifty human heads, each representing one of the 50 letters of the Sanskit alphabet, symbolizes the repository of knowledge and wisdom, and represents the fifty fundamental vibrations in the universe.
She wears a girdle of human hands - hands are the principle instruments of work and so signify the action of Karma or accumulated deeds, constantly reminding us that ultimate freedom is to be attained as the fruit of Karmic action.
Her three eyes indicate the Past, Present, & Future:
Her white teeth, symbolic of Sattva. The translucent intelligence stuff, hold back her lolling tongue which is red, representing Rajas. The activating quality of nature leading downwards to Tomas, inertia Kali has four hands (or, occasionally two, six or eight).
One left hand holds a severed head, indicating the annihilation of ego-bound evil force, and the other carries the sword of physical extermination with which she cuts the thread of bondage.
One right hand gestures to dispel fear and the other exhorts to spiritual strength.
In this form, she is changeless, limitless primordial power, acting in great drama, awakening the unmanifest Siva beneath her feet.
Their inseparable union reflects non-duality.
To her in the end -our desires and hopes, our family, romantic ties our friends, possessions and hard earned success in business.
As the eternal, indifferent time she confronts man with his pitiful finite attachments, swallows them up, and produces them again in a different form, in a different time.
Just as the destruction of the seed leads to the birth of a tree, so disintegration is a normal and necessary step of nature moving towards further progress or unfolding.
Kali is the embodiment of creation, preservation and annihilation. She inspires awe and love at the same time.
Is the source of all 'energies' and the feminine divinities are principally her emanations, as she is conceived of in innumerable forms.
The 'Knowledge" aspect of Kali is represented by a sakti-cluster of ten Goddesses known as Dasa-Mahavidyas, the Ten Great or Transcendental Wisdoms.
These feminine energies together encompass the entire knowledge of the universe.
I. The first Mahavidya is Kali herself, as the power of Time and the other forms are:Each of the Goddesses has a specific cosmic function. Together, as the power of wisdom, they awaken the worshipper to the illusion of existence.
II. Tara, the Roetential of recreation;
III. Sodast. 'sixteen", the power of perfection, fullness;
IV. Bhuvanesvari. supporter of all existence, space-consciousness;
V. Chinnamasta. the end of existence, the distributor of life energy;
VI. Bhairavi, the active power of destruction;
VII. Dhumarati, the power of darkness, inertia;
VIII. Bagala, destroyer of negative forces;
IX. Matanqi. the power of domination, dispeller of evil;
X. Kamala. the state of reconstituted unity.
The Sakti-cluster of the Mahavidyas as a whole reflects the dynamic unity of existence, in which all aspects of life, the darkest, the purest, the most forceful and the inert, are coined to form a whole, a vision of unity in diversity.
"Kali's Boon is won when man confronts or accepts her image of Kali, in a variety of ways, teaches man that pain, sorrow, decay, death and destruction are not to be overcome by denying them or explaining them away.
Pain and sorrow are woven into the texture of man's life so thoroughly that to deny them is ultimately futile and foolish.
For man to realize the fullness of his being, he must finally accept his dimension of existence.
Kali's boon is freedom, the freedom of the child to revel in the moment. and it is won only after confrontation or acceptance of death of the lower self attached to the material world. To confront or accept this death, is to realize a mode of being that can delight and revel in the play of the Gods. It is to become immortal.
To accept one's physical mortality is to be able to act superfluously, to let go, to be able to sing, dance, and shout.
To win Kali's boon is to become childlike, to be flexible, open, and na´ve like a child. To be able to accept the guidance of a master; the master I am; it is to become a child of the Universe.
KALI is the Woman who have attained union with the Inner Higher Self and is guiding others to the same.