When the Western mind glances upon an ancient text, it will often begin dissecting, weighing, and ultimately censoring it based on Western values and Christian programming. They impose: “This text states that this Goddess is the patron of silencing people. What they really meant is that you should silence yourself, they’d never mean it is okay to silence others with a curse.” In a similar way, in the modern world people will greatly fetishize the concept of going in the woods or walking barefoot as a means to be spiritual. Imagine being trapped in the forest with no shoes on, stumbling around stepping on sharp objects, getting hookworm, dying from an infected foot cut with no means to sterilize it, etc. In this way it can be understood why cultures more intwined with nature do not fetishize it, but personify it in fierce forms to which they wish to show respect. The modern mind easily glorifies & smiles upon nature because it is removed from its tortures, due to centuries of generations which did everything they could to rise out of it, to create medicines and even the padded shoes that make it so you *don’t have to think about your feet* and can put your mind to arts, philosophy, love, and all the other pleasures in life. Of course, just spending a few hours in nature, or planning a time period in the wild with all your modern tools and implements that give you safety and comfort seems pleasant. It’s not that appreciating nature is wrong, but it’s important to realize how estranged in our times we are from truly, experientially knowing its power. While New Age spirituality often proposes things like to ground on the bare Earth, ancient spiritual texts often state things such as “it is forbidden to do practice on the bare earth; it will drain the energy you are trying to accumulate” and thus the use of different mats or asana. But, I mention this tendency to fetishize nature to provide something of an understanding of why the Western mind is so quick to demonize any harshness in spirituality whatsoever. It’s easy to judge, put down, and rationalize cultures who valued fierce acts in spirituality just as much as benefic acts, when we live in a world so largely removed from the huge array of natural tortures the Earth would gladly serve you. It’s easy to say everything is conceptual and allegorical in spiritual texts when you live in an almost totally conceptual world, and to just brush away (or repackage into something more palatable) any notion of harshness— only because your day-to-day life is easier than it has been for any humans in history.
So, fierce goddesses like Kali, Dhumavati, or Chinnamasta are often spoken and warned about as if there is something about them to fear. What is scary about losing the one true danger in life, which is the destruction of one’s soul from failing to overcome one's ego? That is the gift a Goddess can give you, and the only one ultimately that matters. What is not talked about often enough is that especially in the modern world, the horror and danger of pleasure & fortune are the most common pathways to annihilation (if one loses control). Replacing the historically prominent early deaths during childbirth, infections, etc. are massive deaths taking place through drug overdoses, alcoholic driving, and other forms of abuse of pleasures. Heroin, for example, is not dangerous because it has fangs, causes you pain, or tries to scare you, but is dangerous simply because it feels so good that many people want to experience and escape into that intense level of pleasure so badly that it destroys them, and they lose all control over themselves. “Angelic spirits” actually cause you to feel forms of angst or insecurity to protect you from your ego and help you grow stronger to gain control over it… while a demonic spirit will constantly feed your ego and offer you whatever pleasure and excesses will help to speed up your total loss of control.
The Goddesses who dwell within the Yoni in the Yoni tantra— Kamala/Lakshmi, Bhuvaneshwari, and Shodashi— are the juicy Goddesses of “reward”. Just as women gate-keep who enters them for nature’s function, so too does only the “hero” or Vira (with his mind set on spiritual growth) deeply benefit from swimming in the goopy juice of those Goddesses. Encounters with the more outwardly “scary” forms can especially rapidly carve one into a hero, as he is reduced and trained by the forms on the Yoni rim (Bagalamukhi & Matangi) who manipulate energy and determine those worthy to enter the gate. The hero must experience the intensity and electricity of Chinnamasta in the yoni hair, and bear the intense unbound forces of feminine energy in Kali & Tara who are in the Yoni Chakra. In the same way, human women around a man embody encounters with different forms of ancient Goddess energies. I have explored in astrology & art how Ashlesha feminine energies can cause a man to be bound and totally immobilized under her power, as a snake does to its prey after it has been poisoned or constricted. Purva Bhadrapada feminine energies can cause a man to incriminate himself in a sexual scandal or commit a major error due to lack of self control. He could be drowned in Purva Ashada’s juiciness, ending up pampered and emasculated, wallowing in so many luxuries and sexual enjoyments that he loses all his virility and becomes like a baby, totally dependent on her ability to nourish & shelter him— relating to why Kamala is described with especially large and heavy breasts in her Dhyana mantra. (More about different expressions of your personal, unique divine feminine energy can be found in my female path course.)
That is why both the tests of pleasure & abundance, and the tests of handling pain or suffering, arise during the spiritual path. Benefic Goddesses are not “easy” while fierce Goddesses are “hard”. Benefic Goddesses are not “safe” while fierce Goddesses are “dangerous”. Tests come with all forms of feminine energy, and in truth no form is dangerous beyond your inner reaction to them. When a man who practices religion approaches another man for spiritual advice or tries his best to imitate and emulate a guru or personal role model, he is engaging with the planet Jupiter (mercy) ultimately because he is behaving as a disciple, which is the ruled by the 5th house who’s significator is Jupiter. Encounters with men for spiritual understandings cannot “reduce” a person, and when the man is ready, he always must face the Goddess & feminine testing energies to truly advance. Jupiter rules the sweet flavor, while Venus contrasts this by ruling the sour. So, the danger is never in worship of any feminine form, but in neglect, disrespect, avoidance, or projecting of fear onto that form. Kali’s gentleness is in that she targets your soft spot and destroys your self-importance, and quickly frees your ego from it. Kali will always force you through difficult situations to prioritize your self development, but around luxurious Goddesses, you will have to have the grip on yourself to do that. It is through discipline and adversity that we obtain all ability to enjoy ourselves and become truly liberated. When we are immersed in luxury and comfortable circumstances it is all too easy to become enslaved through pleasure if a person lacks internal purity. That is why the Goddesses are all ultimately different expressions of one major Goddess, because no part of her nature can be demonized or rejected. Each piece of her plays a crucial role in the great churning of Maya, the game of creation; each part of her has both a reward and a test, and in this way her divided forms are either Dante’s 9 hells for a man prone to self-betrayal, or a journey through heaven for the one rooted to his own power.