It was perhaps no accident that exactly 108 of us gathered last night at 11PM for a ritual dedicated to the Divine Mother, Kali Maa. In Hinduism, the number 108 is considered especially auspicious, aligning the heavens and Earth in powerful relationship toward peace.
Indeed, our ceremony for the Dark Goddess was imbued with the special fragrance of the Divine as She opened internal gateways and sweetly unleashed her scythe of discrimination among us.
Some come to Kali hoping to score power and prestige, Her allure a false understanding of the wild ride She promises. Others come fearing Her mysteries, an ego-driven humility rather than a willingness to get raw to be found beneath their lowered gazes.
The work of our Kali Puja was to draw out the heartfelt yearning that lay at the bottom of it all, first using mantra to stir up our insides and strengthen our resolve. With reverberations of OM KRIM KALYAI NAMAH in the air, our pranayama then asked the guidance of Pranashakti to hold the channel of our potential open to let Goddess do what was needed.
Some called Her name with abandon, others cried softly into their palms. Maa was there, bold, audacious, soft and supple in all Her glory. Provocations to remember were made and community supported the energy of vitalization with focused breath, intention, and a drumbeat of connection to Earth and ancestors. We called on one another as family and the circle strengthened.
Our meditation began, like the chanting of Her sacred names, on the cremation ground. From there, the variety of our experience expanded, each of us engaged in relationship with Maa unique to our own soul’s calling. Some of us touched Her feet in our mind’s eye, lowering ourselves naked to the Divine Will. Others made offerings of flowers and incense, blood and ghee, a sacrifice that the eternal fire be lit within us in attunement with our personal sankalpa, our sacred intention.
From the internal landscape, we traveled into the space of celebration, singing Jai Maa! in praise of Her, honoring the work of the night and the work to come, for we had opened to Her in our lives, some of us, in new and deepened ways. Our hearts lifted with the clanging of the bell, knowing that hope lives eternal in Her embrace, and we each had our moment for darshan, the outward look of seeing Her eye to eye before the circling slowed and we grounded, answering the call, “Jai Maa Kali ki…” with a resounding, “JAI!”.
Gratitudes offered, the circle returned to breath and awareness of the gifts of the night. Prayers and thanksgiving to those guardians and spirits who had accompanied us, and we were ready for a step, almost, back into the evening’s mundane consciousness. A bit of prasad, the sacred food first offered to Maa within us, we learned some about Her favorite offerings and places in India before the circle was opened. Hearts full, we departed, 108 of us blessed.