Friday, February 5, 2010
i saw a goat sacrificed at the temple yesterday. a baby goat. it was at the kalighat temple in calcutta india. here the image of the divine is just a big oval black shape with three red eyes and a long tongue sticking out. it is confrontational, sensual and blood thirsty all at once. this god is female and she is heat. it feels like her three eyes are watching me, staring back and giving me energy. i am a long way from bible school. but not really.
this is biblical.
i used to read about sacrifices of animals in my cartoon bible. it was so much more interesting to read the old testament, where people were fighting and fornicating and sacrificing and warring and longing and loving. david desired bathsheeba so much he had her husband killed so he could know her carnally. appetites.
who has the largest appetite for blood sacrifice?
everywhere i look in the natural world, life is feeding on itself. i will be food someday. there is no denying that, uncomfortable thought that it is. i will be food someday, but not today. today i stand on the temple steps and look at the pit where they sacrifice the animals. pigeons and goats mostly. sometimes a bull, but that is unusual. the ground is sticky from dirt and what i can only assume is blood from other sacrifices. the altars stand ominous and empty, my mind wanders to thoughts of what execution must look like. the altars are stone blocks with a tall "V" shape to put the animals necks in. there are hundreds of burnt incense sticks on the altars and bright orange marigold flowers. i think of the guillotine and marie antoinette.
they say the blood represents the moontime blood of the mother. well, most of mankind is quesy about that too.
i feel quesy, apprehensive as the sun beats down on me, i am wearing my indian clothes. modest for a woman here means shoulders and ankles are concealed. i am wearing my favorite bright red scarf to cover my contraband shoulders, blood red, kali red.
kali is called the laughing mother. the mothers love is unconditional. like the sun that shines on saint and sinner alike. this is not the love of the father that you earn by keeping commandments or following your cultural ethics and morals. it is everywhere for everyone. it is grace. it is redemption regardless of whether you deserve it. she is called the laughing mother because sometimes it feels she is having a joke on you, a little play with her veil of maya. it is up to you if you can laugh with the cosmic joke or not. or cry with it.
the priest leads in a baby goat, a black one. it looks startled. the priest looks like he does this everyday, which he does. my throat tightens. i want to look away, but i have committed myself to witnessing. why? that is a good question. to accept the suffering that is an intrinsic part of life without flinching or turning away. and for much less of a noble reason, i want to watch. i am intrigued like a scientist is intrigued.
i chant the same mantra i use when i am meditating, driving, having sex, going to the bathroom, bathing...one mantra because it is all one. i would chant the same mantra watching a birth as i now chant watching a death.
the priest picks up the goat by the nape of it's neck. the baby goat cries. it looks frightened, but maybe it is just annoyed at the restriction of it's freedom. i focus on my chanting more. it becomes very intense, my breath very thick. the priest puts the goats neck inside the "V" on the altar. he lifts a curved sword. i want to look away but i keep my eyes open. they burn a little from the concentration.
i remember how my own mother used to kill animals on our farm when i was growing up. i never had the stomach for that. but my mother also used to stay up all night when the goats went into labor, to help the birthing process. i never liked the blood and guts. there were always things about my mother which disturbed me, which i was not able to accept. we have been estranged for many years. and here i have travelled all the way to india, to be a goddess worshipper, of the fiercest goddess, kali. it is always about our parents isn't it?
the priest lifts the blade and swiftly brings it down. the head is severed and rolls away immediately. the body is still twitching. there is blood on the ground. one of the priests put marks on our foreheads, tilaks, of the blood.
that same day the priests pulled me into the inner sanctum where the kali statue is, they put my hands on her and i felt her buzzing under my palms. there were the red eyes. watching.