by Alison Litchfield
I love fall when the leaves turn their bright colors, the air is crisp and the farmers market is alive with the abundance of the harvest. I always feel a pull to turn inward, make soup and laze around more, though the outer world doesn’t always support that. There is a great paradox being reflected in nature this time of year. As the trees turn their brilliant colors, they remind us of our hearts’ inner brilliance and as the leaves fall, we know on some level we are being asked to let go. In this way, nature gives us permission to let old patterns fall apart and go back to the void so we can clear the way for something new to emerge.
One of my favorite Hindu goddesses is Kali who is also known as the Goddess of Destruction. When you first see an image of her, she looks scary but she is actually quite beautiful in her rawness. Kali shows up commonly in yogic art. She is the one with the wild hair, the bare breasts and the severed heads around her neck. She usually carries a sword and one of the ways you know it’s her is that she is sticking out her tongue.
Kali represents the energy of death, darkness and uncertainty in each of us. She cuts through the illusions of the ego. She is also the void. Most of us are terrified of this energy within us, so we turn our back on it and it goes into the shadow—coming out as resentment, repressed anger and a disconnection with the mother archetype. This dark and scary place is often where we carry our most tender wounds. When we have the courage to go into the darkness and meet our deepest fears and wounds, we’re able to feel more and allow our raw emotions to move and express themselves. When integrated into the heart, these wounds become our true beauty. In her many teachings, Kali gives us the opportunity to pause, to stop the busyness and ask ourselves, “What do I really value?” This mother goddess tells us that death is not a problem but an opportunity to turn toward life.
I’ve been admiring all the different leaves as they fall from the trees, each one carrying their own unique hue of reds, yellows, bright oranges and browns. Some small, some large with various shapes and textures, all beautiful in their own way as they dance in the autumn winds, falling and composting back to the same place our bodies will go someday—returning back to our beautiful Mother Earth. Kali’s teachings are so precious because they’re about learning to love every part of ourselves as whole, even the parts we call “imperfect” and “ugly.” When all the uncertainties of life arise, my hope and prayer is that we can remember to turn to the elements and these deities like Kali that remind us how much beauty there is in life and all its imperfections.
Alison Litchfield will be leading Embody Shakti: A Women’s Yoga Retreat with Kirsten Warner from November 15-17. This unique retreat will blend ancient yogic wisdom with practices addressing the challenges faced by modern women, giving empowering tools to live a happier and more authentic life. To read more, click here.