Biblical Deborah, Bael, and Kali–women or goddesses?

File:Deborah.jpgOne of the judges in the Bible, and one of the few women of authority, was Deborah. She settled disputes for Israel beneath a palm in the hills of Ephraim. She is to be called “mother in Israel (Judges 5: 7).”

It is she who instructs Barak to raise a large army to defeat the Canaanite army of Sisera. He is reluctant to go, unless she goes with him, which she agrees to do. She also tells Barak the glory of defeating Sisera will not belong to him.  This is borne out when Jael, who is not an Israelite, but the wife of a Smithy, who worked for the Canaanites, takes him into her tent where he imagines she will hide him from the Israelites. She allows him to feel secure and waits for him to go to sleep, and then she drives a tent peg through his mouth, effectively severing his spine. He probably convulsed and suffered before dying.  Jael hurries out and leads the Israelites to show them their dead enemy, and is hailed as a heroine for Israel. 

Danna Nolan Fewell. “Judges,” in Women’s Bible Commentary. 73-83. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. 1998.

These images of powerful Biblical women might be likened to Kali,

 Kali: The Dark Mother

divine mother of Hindu tradition who wears an imposing necklace of skulls, and is fierce.  Deborah is not a wimp either, and nor is Bael, who kills the Canaanite, Sisera, apparently in order to ensure her family isn’t slaughtered by the new conquerors, the Israelites. Both these Biblical women, like the goddess Kali, are wise and strong; all three are icons of women who are powerful.   

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Kali,looking more benign than usual

I am reading the introduction to the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Part of his worship was of the great Hindu Goddess, Kali, who is not a virgin Mary, but there again I hardly think any woman gave birth bloodlessly and painlessly to any child.  Most of the images I have seen of Kali show her with skulls around her waist, rather than these rather handsome chaps. Kali is Mother God, both birther and devourer; she is one to fear and revear.  She is the One who is accorded equality with Brahman, and is in fact Brahman.  Hindu religious traditions are amazingly complex; I think you’d need a PhD to understand. Yet, all of the many deities depict aspects of human life in one way or another.  Sri Ramakrishna integrates the mother, Kali, into his being, as an aspect that he is missing. I wonder if this is not similar to Jungian anima/animus integration, which is for women the incorporatation of maleness, and vice versa for men. I interpret this for women in the West to become not imitators of men, but rather able to be more assertive/aggressive and so on. Men, of course, need to honor their feminine side, loving to care for the kids, developing deep relationships…

Kālī (Sanskrit: काली, IPA: [kɑːliː]; Bengali: কালী; Punjabi: ਕਾਲੀ; Tamil: காளி; Telugu: కాళికాదేవి), also known as Kālikā (Sanskrit: कालिका, Bengali: কালিকা), is the Hindugoddess associated with eternal energy. “She who destroys”. The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Kali means “the black one”. Since Shiva is called Kāla – the eternal time, Kālī, his consort, also means “Time” or “Death” (as in time has come). Hence, Kāli is considered the goddess of time and change. Although sometimes presented as dark and violent, her earliest incarnation as a figure of annihilation still has some influence. Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also revered as Bhavatārini (literally “redeemer of the universe”). Comparatively recent devotional movements largely conceive Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess.[1]

Help my publishers: buy my books!

Unexpected Journey (www.roguephoenixpress.com): historical coming of age novel about a shaman, a rich girl and a street girl who end up in colonial Philadelphia.

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Emily’s Shadow (www.bloodmoonpublishing.com): supernatural fantasy set in Cornwall, where Merlin made magic.

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FREE: Misty, the London Pony,  is based on a true story. An illustrated children’s story is available as a free PDF download.

 

Champion, the Dream Horse, about Mara Sue, who lives in Kentucky, is poor, but determined to own the horse of her dreams.

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Fish Reveal Fate of the Lovesick

The Town of Newborough in the Isle of Anglesey, Wales

For many Welsh people, a most sacred place is the ruined 16th century church found on the southwest tip of the island, across from the little town of Newborough. Here, on a little promontory jutting out from a vast expanse of sands and forest that makes up a nature reserve called Ynys Llanddwyn (Uniss Thlan thooin) is the spot where Dwynwen, patron saint of Welsh lovers, chose to make her retreat.

St. Dynwen’s Day is celebrated on January 25th. For the Welsh-speaking, it replaces St. Valentine’s Day, as the day to send flowers and greetings to loved ones (a point not unnoticed by today’s publishers of Welsh greeting cards). A lovely legend is the story of Dwynwen’s rejection of the sexual advances of her swain Maelon.

Though in love with Maelon (My Lon), Dwynwen’s wish to remain chaste led her to dream that God offered her a sweet drink that would turn her suitor to ice and free her from her bonds to him. She was then granted three wishes. The first wish was to revive Maelon; second, to become the patron saint of lovers and third, never to marry. What happened to the poor love-struck Maelon we will never know, but a miraculous spring, Ffynnon Dwynwen, appeared at the spot where Dwynwen had her dream. In the spring, located in what is now a very difficult to locate spot on the muddy, tidal beach, fish are said to reveal the fate of the love sick.

http://www.britannia.com/celtic/wales/sacred/anglesey.html

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Unexpected Journey (www.roguephoenixpress.com): historical coming of age novel about a shaman, a rich girl and a street girl who end up in colonial Philadelphia.

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Emily’s Shadow (www.bloodmoonpublishing.com): supernatural fantasy set in Cornwall, where Merlin made magic.

  Kindle edition:   $4.79

FREE: Misty, the London Pony,  is based on a true story. An illustrated children’s story is available as a free PDF download.

 

Champion, the Dream Horse, about Mara Sue, who lives in Kentucky, is poor, but determined to own the horse of her dreams.

Kindle edition: $2.99