Keeping Company With Kali

Remember last week when I wrote about dissolution?  It’s such a beautiful and gentle word, “dissolution.”  It reminds me of a spring rain washing the sidewalks clean. It sounds like such a wholesome and refreshing process.

Well, apparently dissolution escalates.  And when it does, it’s not so gentle or cleansing anymore.  It’s dark and murky and heavy and sticky and foreboding – all at once.  From where I am sitting, it feels kinda like Gollum’s cave in here, and I am hoping he asks a riddle I know the answer to so I can get the heck out – fast.

Welcome to the lair of Kali.

I thought I knew her and her destructive powers.  I reread some of my blogposts where I talk about her ability to slice the heads off of demons and cut through appearances to get to what is real.  Sounds like a lovely thing to contemplate, right?  I’m discovering that it’s one thing to read and write about Kali’s wrath and another thing entirely to live and feel it.

Over the last few months, layers of my life situation (not my ‘life,” mind you – that is powerfully intact – I use “life situation” to refer to the external events and trappings that make up what many folks think of as “a life”) have started to fall away.  First the Anusara yoga scandal arrived like a red hot comet into mainstream media, and some of the threads of my work began to unravel.  Then I finished a project I had been working on for months, birthing it into a world which promptly ignored its arrival.  Soon after, a romantic relationship on which I gambled a great deal of emotional vulnerability and energetic investment was called off, and a few key friendships and family ties in my life started to slide further out of focus.  I did my taxes and found out I was getting a refund – good news on the immediate level, but a clear reminder that my financial life is precarious.  As winter drew to a close in cold and snowy Eastern Idaho, I have been forced to face the reality that I’m going to have to shift my relationship with the town I’ve lived in for the last 8 years – but I have no idea where to go next, or what exactly to do when I get there.  And then this morning I read a very explicit article detailing just what all has been going on in the world of John Friend and Anusara Yoga – the tradition to which I have devoted the last bunch of years of my life and work and study – and felt sick to my stomach.

A very good and loyal old friend of mine just offered me work in his real estate business last night, and for the first time ever, I gave it some serious thought.  Really?  Me, thinking about that??  And then I thought to myself, ooohhhh, NOW I know where Kali hangs out!

Multiple times this week I have described myself as “feeling naked” – without even making the connection to Kali – and then it hit me.  She’s naked, of course – what else could she be?  When all this life situation stuff falls away it’s just you and your own skin.  The fire she’s surrounded by?  I can feel that.  With no clothes on it’s pretty hot.  It’s also hungry, and I sense that it wants to feed off of a few more things in my life before it’s done.  Her tongue lolling out of her mouth?  That feels like a not-so-subtle way of saying, “girlfriend, do you still think you are in control now?”  All those heads around her neck and hands dangling from her waist – they probably thought they were in control – and look how they turned out, right?  Drink all the green juice you want, plan out your teaching schedule for 6 months, make your little vision boards – I’m going to come in here and wreak a little havoc and bring you back down to bare bones.

So, what is bare bones?  What’s left when you’re naked?  When the décor of your “life situation” peels off the walls, what does the foundation of the house look like?

I don’t know.  I really don’t.  I’m quite sure that’s why I’m here, hanging out with Kali, in Gollum’s nasty dark cave.  I know that after I figure it out, she’s going to release me back into the light and I’m going to set out wearing a new outfit walking down a maybe-similar-and-yet-pretty-different path to somewhere really cool.  And I am going to shine more authentically from a deeper place.

But I’m not there yet.  I’m here, on the battlefield, watching that scene in Kali’s story in which every time she strikes the demon Raktabija, drops of his blood fall to the ground and become newer, “badder” demons.  I think she’s going to make me stay here for a while and realize that not everything is always happy, not everything is always radiant, and not everything always looks beautiful, contrary to a lot of what I, as one of those bright and shiny Anusara yoginis, have tried to emanate for the past bunch of years.  She’s going to make me look beyond and beneath all of that to what is steady and consistent and present after you take all the “life situation” stuff away.

What I am going to find there?

That’s the big question.  I know it will be timeless and formless, because it is just that “beyond time and space” that Kali serves, protects, and forces us to reckon with.  What does it look like?  What does it feel like?  And what do I DO once I look it in the face????

Hmm.  Wish me luck.  I’m gonna need it.


If you’re interested in an asana practice to help you move through this kind of stuff, check out this free 30-minute sequence on Vimeo:


And if you’re interested in learning more about Kali and other amazing Hindu gods and goddesses, check out my Online Yogi Superheroes course here:



~ by bridgetannlyons on April 17, 2012.

5 Responses to “Keeping Company With Kali”

  1. Thanks for your honesty and insight Bridget! I can relate on so many levels. I think we are both keeping company with Kali at this time. I wish you peace and strength. See you on the mat! Joanne

  2. agreed. thank you for your honesty. i have been in that cave many times and it is difficult and scary but in the end i always feel so much better…and it is like i have given birth to a new me. swim threw the shit to get to the pretty part. learn and grow and discover and let go of old thought and beliefs and let the new come in. the beautiful cycle of life and our inner world.

    keep on trucking!!!

    • Thanks for the encouragement…..I actually went and swam laps today between classes and swimming is a good metaphor….kinda viscous in there but you DO move forward!

  3. i have been coming back to this reading and what kali stands for or what she does, i think it is pretty amazing. it is such a blessing to have a clearing of all those things, thoughts, beliefs, situations and people that no longer fit in this moment. and to be stripped down to the very essence of who we are at the very core of our being. and to rediscover what is our core truth and to discover all the newness that can makes its way in…and being open to what that is..not even knowing what is looks like. i think i have been with kali that last 9 months maybe and there has been a lot of tears shed and i have had to let go of a boat load of wants and desires and expectations and bring my life back to its simplest form. not been the easiest but it is what has needed to be done. for whatever reason. and letting go of the control and the need to know why it has had to happen.

    great posting..thank you 🙂

  4. […] went back and reread my Kali blogposts a few times, and realized that I sound pretty darn scared of her in there.  And with good reason […]

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