This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
~One of Gollum’s riddles for Bilbo in
The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkein
I had an insight this week while I was meditating on Kali. One of the places I researched is, of course, Wikipedia.
The name Kali comes from kala, which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Kali means “the black one”. Since Shiva is called Kala – the eternal time, Kali, his consort, also means “the Time” or “Death” (as in time has come). Hence, Kali is considered the goddess of time and change.
Besides the nature of so many of the images we have of Kali, could this be part of the reason we in the West are afraid of Kali? Our society seems to value youth and beauty above all else (except money). We create endless products to slather on our skin, ingest into our bodies, or worse, go under the surgeon’s knife in an effort to preserve the appearance of youth. The media constantly determines what it beautiful for us, and women in particular starve and torture themselves to be more like the images we are shown. And yet all of these, youth, beauty and money, vanish in time.
As a Goddess, Kali is eternal. As time, she really is “dancing the world to destruction” because everything eventually crumbles and decays. Her dance goes on, heedless of our protests or pleading.
The only thing that stops Kali’s dancing in myth is Shiva – in one story he stops her by laying down beneath her feet, and in another version he turns himself into a baby and his crying interrupts her. For me, time seems to stand still when I am with my lover. And nothing else matters when my child is crying.
In both of these stories, love and compassion stop the destructive dance of time. Through the eyes of love, all things are made beautiful. Age no longer matters. And looking with compassion, I am able to find beauty in (almost!) every experience.
My heart is full to overflowing from these realizations. I wish you much beauty this week!