For thousands of years, yantras have been used in the Tantric tradition as visual metaphors for the body of the divine. As expressions of devotion and contemplation, they are similar to Tibetan mandalas in that meditation upon them is tantamount to returning to the primordial fiat of one’s being. Because yantras are comprised of archetypal geometric forms and shapes, they are believed to offer liberation from bondage. There are many different yantras, all of which have specific intentions and meanings. For instance, the Sri Yantra (believed to be the mother of all yantras) is made up of nine interlacing triangles, five inverted ones which represent Shakti and four upright ones which represent Shiva.
As a symbolic map of a human being’s spiritual journey, the sri yantra describes nine different routes (from the center, or bindu, to the outer plane) that represent a different stage in the process.
As a geometric symbol, the yantra represents everything that can be internalized in our consciousness. Ma Kali, the mother of time (and its destruction), is also the progenitor of breath, divine love, and transformation. The elegant Kali yantra can thus be understood as a signifier of transformation and healing. To meditate upon it is to surrender totally to the energy of spiritual growth, and to turn emotional catharsis to one’s spiritual advantage. The 36 centers of the Kali yantra correspond to the 36 principles of creation. The central bindu itself is the elemental aspect of the soul, and of Kali, from which everything in the material world emanates.
The five inverted triangles of the yantra represent the sheaths of human consciousness: physical, life force, mental/emotional, wisdom, and bliss. And the inverted position of the triangles symbolize the regenerative power of the divine feminine. The two circles represent life and death.
The eight lotus petals that surround the bindu represent the eight tattvas of nature: earth, water, fire, air, ether, the lower mind, the higher mind, and the ego. The colors of the yantra are also, of course, symbolic. Red represents the life blood and energy of the manifested world, black represents the eternal mystery of the void from which creation ensues, and gray represents the liminal space between realms. To meditate on the Kali yantra, simply do the following:
- Gaze at the bindu of the yantra, being sure to concentrate on your third eye, or Ajna chakra.
- Experience and relish the exchange of energy between the yantra and your heart center, which is where Ma resides.
- Let the colors of the yantra infuse your consciousness.
- Silently call forth on the regenerative power of Kali, which has the power to transform the deepest suffering into the deepest bliss and wareness.
- Close your eyes now, but let the image of the yantra remain with you.
- Chant the sacred breath of Ma Kali, “sa’ham,” and stay relaxed and peaceful.
Jai Kali Maa!