Back in Seattle, there were these fascinating women my friends and I named: The Space Muslims. You could often find this duo of homeless women on the corner of Pine and Broadway. They would sometimes set up camp in front of the Broadway Performance Hall at Seattle Central Community College. Among their array of items were drapes of multi-colored fabric, or simple tarps to keep away the rain. Nestled under you would find amazing hand-crafted shrines, I later found out were devoted to Kali: the godess of creation and destruction.
While taking a non-fiction writing class in college, these women captivated my attention enough for me to interview them for a paper. I have since lost the paper I wrote, but it was a simple matter of fact re-telling of their story and belief systems. See, these women were a living metaphor. Approximately 5 years before I met them, the first woman I met (and the only one allowed to speak according to her) had lost a son.
It went something like this: Her son had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and was framed for killing a small girl on their block in the central district of Seattle. He landed in jail and quickly started sucking funds from this woman's bank account to pay for his legal fees. Since she knew she needed spiritual guidance, she went to her local church to commune with Christ. While praying, she felt nothing in return. Shestarted to get angry at God for ignoring her in a time of crisis, and started to wish ill will toward the man that truly did this crime. She flat out wanted the man who put her son in jail, DEAD. At that moment she saw the spiritual being of Kali come to her almost in a ghost-like manner. She had never even heard of Kali before, and needed a quick tutorial from the goddess herself to straighten things out. (Here was where she warned me: BEWARE what you wish of Kali as she giveth and taketh away!) Kali said she would grant but one wish inside this poor woman's heart, but forewarned her that whatever she wished must be a definitive, heartfelt need! She said she "didn't want any part in..... " but it was too late, Kali said her wish was granted. She knew somehow her heart had asked Kali to destroy that man, wherever he may be.
The next morning she awoke to gunfire outside her building. There was a man lying dead in the steet, but the police had told her that it appeared he had been shot from the inside out. Kali had done the first part of their deal, now she wondered how she would pay. That night, she was supposed to win the lottery but Kali had switched the tickets so the person behind her ended up a millionaire. Very Quickly the case went to trial and her son depleted most of her bank account to pay for it. The final blow to her was when her son was sentenced to death, and she realized Kali would be coming for her next. She returned to the church and sent Kali a message: "If you leave me alone, I will burden my soul for you daily. As long as you stay out of my body, I will carry you in spirit as my punishment." She gave away all personal effects, sold her home, and started to create shrines to Kali out of scraps she would find walking the streets. The other woman joined her one day and had not talked since. Together they created a new family, sharing the physical burden of Kali daily. Basically these women were a little crazy, but it is a beautiful metaphor. (To protect ones soul inside, they must strip themselves of everything outside and carry their spiritual foe around on their backs so the evil won't be tempted to dig inside.)
When I met them, they had about 8 shrines total. Each shrine was made of a wheeled cart, or dolly with plexiglass domes that contained images and figures all gold and black. Every time these women moved, it took about 6 trips back and forth to move all that shit. Can you imagine? That is until, they got a van! See how they adorned it below... I miss seeing them each day.