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.
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.
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.
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.