The worship of a mother goddess as the source of life and fertility has prehistoric roots, but the transformation of that deity into a Great goddess of cosmic powers was achieved with the composition of the Devi Mahatmya (Glory of the goddess), a text of the fifth to sixth century, when worship of the female principle took on dramatic new dimensions.The goddess is not only the mysterious source of life, she is the very soil, all-creating and all consuming.Kali makes her 'official' debut in the Devi-Mahatmya, where she is said to have emanated from the brow of Goddess Durga (slayer of demons) during one of the battles between the divine and anti-divine forces. She is thus an echo of the woman warrior's fierce virginal autonomy.
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Kali is represented as a Black woman with four arms; in one hand she has a sword, in another the head of the demon she has slain, with the other two she is encouraging her worshippers.
For earrings she has two dead bodies and wears a necklace of skulls ; her only clothing is a girdle made of dead men's hands, and her tongue protrudes from her mouth.
Her eyes are red, and her face and chests are besmeared with blood.
She stands with one foot on the thigh, and another on the chest of her husband.
Kali's fierce appearances have been the subject of extensive descriptions in several earlier and modern works.