The Reclamation of the Goddess

Kali has moved from her home in the cremation grounds to the cities. She is worshipped by more worshippers, more of "respectable" society. The West has adopted her also. But some of this has changed Kali's image. Some try to deny her frenzy. Some are not quite as willing to accept Kali as the dangerous frightening destructive force. They put a New Age spin on it, trying to make Kali into something more benevolent. But I think her popularity also springs from her very frightening aspect. Our world is in chaos. Not only are we living in the age of Kali, recently technology has thrown us all into a frenzy of activity and progress. We have the atom bomb. We have nuclear weapons. We have AIDS. The world is a very scary place. It may not even be any worse than it used to be, it is just on a larger scale now. We can see people on the other side of the world starving or dying. We have destruction on a larger scale than ever before. Kali embodies our fears. She is the goddess of chaos. She is the uncontrollable force threatening in her frenzied dance to destroy the world. We worship her to try to placate her. We lie down like Siva. We want to calm her down, so she does not destroy us all.

Lilith has been reclaimed by the women's movement as the ultimate empower woman, the first feminist, for after all, she was the one to leave. Her name has been borrowed for a Jewish feminist magazine. There is now the "Lilith Fair," a fair for feminists started by Sara McLaughlin. No longer is she the demonic presense to frighten bad children and paranoid mothers. We have more advanced medicine, we don't need the boogey(wo)man embodied by infant death syndrom as much as we used to. Lilith is now seen as a earth-concious figure, and even associated with the snake, changing the snake's image as well. The Lilith snake offered the fruit to Eve to help her. To get her also more connected to the earth, to show her that the man in her life was overpowering and she had to think for herself. Lilith is even helping reinvent Eve, just as Eve is helping reinvent Lilith. Both are seen in a more positive light with the growth of the women's movement. With the rise of female empowerment, it was inenitable that Lilith would be reclaimed. She may be a frightening figure, but her deeds hold less power over us now. We ignore the rest, and remember she left Adam, she took control of her own destiny.

We want goddesses in our age that we can relate to. We want models to show that women can have power, women can be equals to men. But these models are not common things. And so we must look for our models carefully. Often we find them too powerful for us and we try to dilute them. We try to forget part of who they are, or make up something to exonerate them, because they are all we can find. And perhaps, the edge that we fear is what makes them most desirable. In our modern times when chaos reigns, perhaps the only deities we can accept are ones that are just as frightening as our times.

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