abridged from Ferment, December 04
In 1996 whilst working in Melbourne I became the fortunate recipient of a Hindu Shamanic initiation.
Some years before this a Fijian Indian woman, Sandhya Prassad, had adopted me as a friend, so I stayed in her home whilst in Melbourne. Her uncle Abi Ram, a Hindu Shaman of some renown from Nandi, was in Melbourne to give his niece her Shaman initiation. He had been instructed by his guru that whilst in Australia he must give initiation to a black woman he would meet, who was not a member of his extended family. When he arrived at Sandhyas home, I was wearing all black. After some theological discussion with me he told me that, if I was willing, he believed that I was the one indicated to be the first person ever to receive this initiation outside of his family.
I was very willing to receive such an honour, so the next day we went to the beach where he ritually bathed Sandhya and I twenty-one times in the cold waters of Melbourne harbour. Abi Ram and his sister, Sandhyas Mother, gave us both further instruction in spells and mantras. I am a Caucasian western woman and I feel I did nothing special to deserve this honour. However, I feel there were a few contributing factors that led to this occurrence.
In 1992, my son was kidnapped by his father with the full knowledge and assistance of his Christian religious sect. This religious sect felt that even though my former husband was a dubious man with a criminal record, our son was better off with him as a man who remained in their faith, than with a woman who was outside their faith. My former husband, his family and that organisation conspired to conceal my son from me for 18 months and allowed him to be subjected to horrendous emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Both the legal and social welfare systems in this country failed to protect my son.
I was distraught. I tried everything. I enlisted private investigators and former military men to search for my son to no avail. Therefore, I decided to invoke the intervention, protection, and assistance of deity for his sake. Due to what was happening with that Christian sect and my son and because the Christian pantheon had miserably failed to protect me from similar horrendous abuses in my own childhood I no longer looked to Christianity for any solutions. Previous to this predicament I had begun the study of
comparative religions so I knew that the best example of female rage in the protection of her young was to be found in the Hindu faith, and that was Kali.
1993 was the first time I invoked Kali. At this point in time, I had not received formal training as how to conduct a puja so I just acted on instinct, added to my knowledge of Western magick, and the experience I had of eastern Siddi techniques, which I had practised with childhood friends in high school. I cleared an altar space on the floor of my living room; in it, I placed an image of Kali. Before her, I placed two black candles and a power stone I had been using for several years and burnt some Nag Champa incense.
I cast a sacred circle around the altar and myself then I lay down and meditated for an hour to focus my mind to one-pointedness and calm my panic, fear, and rage. My cat a Himalayan kitten came to lie beside me. I rang a bell using the a piece of wood on the rim to produce a harmonic sound similar to a finger rubbing on a wet wine glass, whilst I harmonically intoned the five seed syllables. Then I began chanting still seated in the lotus position. Firstly, I chanted Om Namah Shiva until I felt energy rise. Then I chanted an old Gaelic chant of power from my biological heritage until my voice relaxed and deepened and my intent was completely clear. Though I wasnt consciously aware of time at this point, this process must have taken at least two hours as the candles had burnt down considerably.
Then I pricked my finger and placed a drop of my own blood on the flame of each candle. I began the only Kali chant that I could find, being:- Ja Kali Ja Kali Ja Kalima. Om Ma Ma Om Ma Ma Om Ma Om over and over again. As I did this, I visualised that I was speaking the words out of my third eye. I pushed the words out the point on my brow with each out breath. As I intoned the words, the rage at what was happening to my son filled me. My voice grew louder seemingly of its own accord. Without shouting the sound of the chant began to ring like a bell, bouncing back from my brick walls and glass windows. Pure rage began to flow out of my third eye like a light streaming into the candles.
Suddenly there was a flash of energy, the candles flared, the cat jumped, screeched and ran away, and I felt a jolt of energy leave the circle. Shaken, I jumped up and switched on the lights, suddenly afraid of what I may have done. I discontinued the ritual.
Within a week I received notification that the private investigator had found my ex-husband, he had been admitted to a hospital near Tenterfield with a severe case of Epstein Bar Syndrome (glandular fever) and was expected to remain in care for 3 months or more, and they had located my son in Tenterfield public school. My son was returned to me. Strangely, within that same week a Tibetan Shaman, who was not a Hindu, turned up on my doorstep and gave me instruction for a year, but that is another story for another time.
That was my first experience with Kali. Eleven years later I am still a devotee. Today my son now fully recovered from all of his trauma has grown into a fine, intelligent and handsome man of 18 years of age. At a Kali Puja hosted by Colin Robinson last night, I formally thanked the goddess for this blessing.
© Shé DMontford, 2004
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In the original article, Shé goes on to share a number of chants and spells received from her Fijian Indian teachers.
For more information contact Ferment, or visit the authors website.