A Strange Dream of Deity Possession

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced any disturbing dreams but the one I woke up from at 5:05 this morning (it’s still pitch black at that time in Chicago’s late-winter skies) still has me reeling and viscerally experiencing its effects in my chest: there’s a sensation of tightness and literal heaviness in my heart chakra area and I’ve got an elevated heart rate (116 BPM). I dreamt that I had gotten possessed by none other than the goddess Kali-Ma; the scene switched from its original location and had me in my living room of my childhood home, where my dead grandmother on my mother’s side was speaking to me until she saw my possessed state and became terrified of me and backed herself up against the south wall of the living room, screaming in horror. I was horrified because the part of me that was still “me” in my consciousness was incapable of stopping any of it.

I’m trying to recall the narrative’s details in full. The dream scene started out with me in a dream version of the island of Oahu–an alternate landscape I’ve frequently revisited in my dreams since moving back to my native Chicago from the four years I spent living on Oahu in the early-mid 2000s. On this fake Oahu, there is, of course, a fake Pearl Harbor, and that’s where the dream began. I was in some sort of military personnel processing center, though the young people in uniform surrounding me in formation seemed to be comprised of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. I was clearly a civilian and snaked my way past the lines of young service members and entered a building where I became captivated by my image in a colossal mirror in what seemed to be an otherwise empty living room or even dance hall with wooden floors. I had the feeling I was packing clothes to go on a big trip; there were suitcases in other rooms, I think. I was waiting to meet up with female friends only known to me in the dream world–perhaps we were traveling together.

I seemed to be wearing a strange, off-white with green trim lacy dress and cape set. I kept twirling about in front of the mirror, opening and closing a flap of the cape and swooshing it dramatically as I spun in circles. A strange young woman entered the room and made an approving comment about my fashion choice; she smiled and then suddenly disappeared. At that time, I noticed that there was something behind me that I hadn’t seen before: a low-lying coffee table with strange slips of (papyrus) paper on them. While I never got close enough to look at them, I somehow knew that the paper strips had magical spells and elaborate yantra-like sigils written on them with red ink. I began, quite methodically, to stuff the paper strips one by one into my mouth.

My thoughts and behavior began to radically change within the span of mere seconds.

I don’t just serve Kali, I am Her, was one of the swirling thoughts that I had. And I began to literally swirl around in the room with both arms extended; a tremendous whooshing sound began to grow in intensity yet I somehow “knew” it wasn’t anything sourced externally to me. I also became aware that the goddess Kali was actively pushing my consciousness out of the “driver’s seat” of my mind. She was taking control.

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Yantra comprised of Indian spices and marked with candles. Diwali puja.

I was becoming possessed.

Whether it was from the activity of my twirling about or what, I don’t know, but the scene instantly changed from the room with the giant mirror in the pseudo Pearl Harbor location to my Chicago childhood home, to its living room specifically. My Nana on my mother’s side, who only spoke Serbian in real life, was standing in the south of the room where we had our fireplace and mantle, talking to me in fluent English. The room in real life had white paint, but here in the dream the walls and the fireplace and mantle were painted a deep crimson color. Nana was pleading with me, in English (I was aware of the disconnect) to please go see a doctor because what was happening to me wasn’t normal. A devout Eastern Orthodox Christian, she began fumbling in the pocket of her sweater vest for one of her prayer books she always carried around with her. She was going to pray to defend herself. No one else was with us.

Kali-me then began to stretch out arms and hands in a menacing way towards my Nana, who by this time was absolutely terrified. The part of the Kali-me that was still “me” in terms of conscious awareness was afraid of killing my grandmother and having her die a second time. Yet there was no stopping Kali; “I” felt helpless.

My Nana was shrieking in terror the closer Kali-me advanced. I knew “I” had physically transformed into a Being with blue-black skin, wild, matted, long black hair, and bulging eyes and protruding tongue. Naturally, a thunderstorm was raging outside my childhood home while all of this was happening and then suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck from somewhere inside the house: sparks of a fire shot across my field of vision (from left to right) with white heat (they looked like shooting stars), and at that moment one of the paper strips with a magical sigil/yantra/spell came to the front of my mouth and I began to forcefully exhale onto it from inside my mouth while slightly parting my lips open. That slip of magical paper inside my mouth began to glow with the same white-heat intensity as the sparks of the lightning bolt’s strike inside the house.

All of this built up and released in a crescendo of terror as I rushed at my Nana, feeling her absolute horror and fear for her life, even though “I” knew that she was actually dead “in the real world.” I was also afraid of having zero power at preventing any of this. Screams and lightning bolt flashes and the sensation of the active spells in my mouth accompanied my jolting upright in my bed and looking over at the alarm clock on the night stand. It was 5:05 a.m. My heart was viciously pounding in my chest.

Nana

Photo of my Nana on my ancestor altar with a small Serbian Orthodox icon of the Archangel Michael, whom she adored, in front of it. A wooden pysanky decorated egg is on the left.

As I said at the outset of this post, I still haven’t had the sensation of oppression in my chest leave, and it’s been nearly five hours since this nightmare. As I look at my photo of my Nana on my ancestor altar, I feel a sense of sadness and dread. What could this all mean? Why would the goddess Kali rush at my beloved grandmother in such a state of intent to cause harm? Why would I be possessed by Kali to begin with?

I revere the goddess Durga in my home as part of my domestic polytheistic cultus; in fact, last August at a Hindu temple on Chicago’s far north side, a Hindu priest performed a ritual that placed me under Durga’s protection as one of Her devotees. In some traditions of Hinduism that seem to be devised or interpreted by monotheists to downplay India’s rich tradition of polytheism, the goddesses Parvati (Shiva’s wife), Durga, and Kali fall on the same “spectrum” of Warrior Goddess energy, with some people interpreting Them as three Aspects of the same Being. I personally do not hold with that, but if that were true that would be even more puzzling as to why I would be possessed by Kali and accosting my dead maternal grandmother, whom I absolutely loved while she was alive and whom I continue to love and placate in my native Serbian tradition of ancestor reverence.

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Durga the Warrior, Slayer of Evil and Ignorance. Jai Ma! Photo from a temple in Kolkata, India, and licensed public domain under CC0 via Pixabay.

I feel some sort of miasma has set on as a result of this nightmare, and I will have to undergo rounds of spiritual purification to address it and remove its legacy from my body and mind. I feel the need to give my Nana a special offering at my ancestor altar (since I can’t visit her grave in Serbia) as a way of apologizing to her and placating her spirit. I know I also need to chant japa before my Durga shrine for an hour today, using my 108-bead mala.

As for addressing Kali Herself, I simply don’t know. Perhaps I should do divination first to see if it’s advisable, or ask if I should return to the Hindu priest and tell him about all of this and see what he says.

Fellow polytheists of any tradition, I welcome your thoughts on this.

 

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7 thoughts on “A Strange Dream of Deity Possession

  1. Hello Katakhanas,

    My name is Kim and I have been a devotee of Kali for about 18+ years. I am not a Hindu, however, I am an eclectic Pagan who has been working closely with Her for some time. I saw your story posted by one of our members on our Church page (Deeply-Rooted.org) and I was very moved by this story. I am also a person who experiences intense dreams of this nature and I feel very compelled to reach out to you and try to give you my insight into what’s going on in your dream. I’ve had similar experiences not only with Kali, however, I have also had the presence of other Gods enter my dreams and also show me some pretty terrifying truths by “normal” standards. Indeed, nightmares can reveal layers of our subconscious that otherwise would never come to light. These episodes are both mental and spiritual in my view.

    When you told the story about your beloved maternal grandmother and Kali’s presence, my first thought is that the dream was not Kali literally attacking your Grandmother. Yes, Kali was working with you in the most intimate way possible. Kali possessions are intense experiences that leave the person who is affected undoubtedly changed forever. If you’ve been worshipping Durga, and by extension Kali (I’m a hard polytheist so I see them as different aspects, however, Durga created Kali from Her own body) then you have been tapping into that energy for quite some time. This meeting feels like it was inevitable. I’m not sure what else is going on in your life and I hesitate to project a situation that may or may not exist, however, it could be that Kali is helping you through a transition of sorts.

    At first, you are on the Island of Oahu. The Island, surrounded by water, can be interpreted as a mass of emotions swirling a foundation (and a volcanic foundation at that, which gives me the impression of more personal change subconsciously.) If this is a place you keep revisiting, you are undoubtedly traveling to a place where you can experience this underlying change and emotions in a familiar setting that will bring you an understanding of your situation on some level. In the dream, you devoured certain spells and symbols that relate to the Goddess that is most associated with transcendence and destruction of the ego. This was symbolically a “Rite of Passage” with you allowing Kali into your being. As strange as that might sound given what happened next, here’s my take.

    You then are transported to your childhood home in Chicago with your maternal Grandmother. Externally, without knowing much more than what you wrote in this article. It seems that you and your Grandmother in life were very close and that she is worth honoring to be placed on your ancestor altar. Now, your Grandmother was a devote Orthodox Catholic as I am reading this blog. She had many ideas that differ from your own. This is Kali having you face who you once were by a standard that once was as akin to your worship of Durga (the Goddess) against a sort of “first Goddess”, your Grandmother. In essence, the two of these Goddesses are very different. There are also possibilities that on some level, your Grandmother may have been very similar to the Compassionate Mother Kali. These two psychological and spiritual archetypes faced off. I noticed that she grabbed for prayer books in defense of herself. Very logical. Sometimes this can also represent old ideas being stripped away for new ideas that allow for growth.

    It’s very possible Kali was showing you what a formidable force you’ve become in your own right. She often will show us what the inner world looks like to the outer world. I empathize with you that experiences such as these are terrifying. I think it’s a good idea for you to connect with Durga, and when you are comfortable, Mother Kali and have some time to gently meditate on the dream. She is a compassionate Goddess as terrifying as She can be at times. Personally, when working with the compassionate side of Kali, I offer Her honey and pieces of carnelian. It’s also a very good sign that Her attention is upon you because it could be for a reason yet unknown to you that will present it’s self. You will have that “armor” already built up. Kinda like going through a trauma so terrible that it makes everything else seem petty by comparison. I wish you all the best thoughts, peace and intentions in this matter and wish you well along your path. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.

    – Kim Frank

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so, so much, Kim, for sharing your well-thought-out insights into this profound, bizarre, and disquieting experience I had at the soul level. I made offerings to my grandmother’s spirit today and chanted to Durga after undergoing spiritual cleansing; I feel grounded to an extent but that sense of Kali “lurking” behind the veil of my vision or on the periphery of my devotional consciousness is something that will likely take days for me to acclimate myself to. I do also strongly believe that I need to consult the Hindu priest who placed me under Durga’s protection in the ceremony I underwent last summer that commenced my devotional relationship with Her.

      I do wonder about the timing of this experience and what it could mean for me if not at this stage in my life then for the imminent future. I am no stranger to trauma so I can only guess if Kali is making it known to me that I will be having to rely on Her uncompromising ferocity or radical liberation in the face of some impending personal doom. Who knows. However, I am deeply grateful for your kindness and willingness to take the time to share your insights with me. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Of course! And I think you should see that Hindu Priest. It never hurts to have more insights on your experiences. If you ever want to talk privately about my experience with Kali, I’d be happy to share with you. Just PM me on Facebook if and when you’re ready. May you find peace in all this, Sister. I know what you’ve seen has been earth-shaking and nothing anyone says is going to downplay the sheer force of nature that Kali is when She’s got control of the wheel. I will leave you, though, with the reassurance that when you have had your time to process, you will be so much stronger for it. I’m also fairly sure you’re a strong individual for Her to come to you. Be well and take care.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it is very important for you to go consult a Hindu priest as soon as possible. Be sure to ask about whether Hinduism has specific purification protocols for dealing with the miasma of Deity possession (which may or may not have variations depending on the Deity one is dealing with). I would also advise maybe reaching out to devotees of Kali and ask about similar experiences, like the on Kim shared. The more you learn about it, perhaps you will be able to find out exactly what happened and why it happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your dream sounds terrifying. Never having had anything quite like that happen to me and not knowing Kali-Ma I can only suggest continuing to follow your intuition as you are already doing – work things through with your grandmother, maybe talk to Durga about it, consult your Hindu priest, and perhaps try to make contact with Kali-Ma for her explanation if you receive confirmation this is the right thing to do. Good luck with it.

    Liked by 1 person

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