The Great Cosmic Mother gave birth to all things from a place of emptiness, nothingness and darkness. This is not the same mother we call Mother Earth. This is the Mother of all Mothers: the Cosmic Mother in whose womb all the stars and all the planets were created. It is this Great Mother that we meet and get to know in the nakshatra of Mula. But before we can know her, we must contend with an aspect of her that we find not only fearsome, but also loathsome.
Mother Death is known by many names across the world. In Celtic folklore, she is called Banshee and in Southeast Asia, where I’m from, she is known as the Pontianak. If you’ve ever seen Tim Burton’s movie Corpse Bride, it tells the story of a corpse bride who was ditched by her soon-to-be husband and left to die. She longs to be married and she tries to marry a mortal man, but at the very end, she has a change of heart as she realises that she should not enact vengeance on those who are innocent of the crime.
These are old stories that cautioned us during the delicate period of birth–be it of a new life via marriage or the birth of a newborn soul. During these delicate periods, we become vulnerable to Nirtti, Mrtyu and the spirits of women who personify the vampiric force that feed on young and unborn life.
Some have incorrectly dubbed her as the Goddess of Misfortune, but they only do so because they cannot remember a time when there was nothing. It is from this place of nothingness that all ‘good’ and ‘bad’ phenomena of this world–and of all worlds–was created. We become particularly vulnerable to the primordial chaos during periods of great change and upheaval.
But this Great Cosmic Mother, the one whom we have now relegated to an aspect of Kali–the blackness, the darkness, the deep expanse of time–she was there when there was nothing. We may look at the world today and not truly be able know or be able to fathom that this place and that this realm once existed.
It is a vacuum. A vacuum from which all things are born and a vacuum where all must not necessarily return–unless they have to or are forced to.
These spirits which I mentioned earlier are vampiric in nature. In folklore, they are said to subsist by feeding on the vital essence, symbolically represented by blood of the living. In European folklore, vampires are undead creatures that visit loved ones and cause mischief or deaths in the neighbourhoods they inhabited while they were alive. Men are generally more susceptible to such spirits than women.
During periods where there is a vacuum in one’s life, we become particularly vulnerable to such spirits. This vacuum can either take or it can give. It refers to the vacuum from which all things were born, are born and from which they will later be resurrected or reborn.
When we call on the Goddess Kali, the one who is feared, the one whom we cannot decipher, the one who we cannot understand; we remember the nothingness from which it all emanated. There exist those among us who do not fear Kali; those who feel drawn to her, those who worship her.
To surrender to Kali is to allow yourself to return to the Source, to your invisible roots. It is from these invisible roots that both the eternal and the ephemeral are born.
The Roots of the Cosmos
Mula Nakshatra reminds us of the foundation of our life. It is a vacuum. A space that is no space. A period that is no time. Planets and placements in this nakshatra show us our potential; our true potential–because in this ‘space’, there is nothing. We can either ascend towards the light or we can descend down into the abyss.
Vengeance and justice are both strong themes of this nakshatra, as is blood thirst, cannibalism and even the vampiric force. In some societies, cannibalism is still a cultural norm. Endocannibalism, the consumption of a person from the same community, is a form of ritual cannibalism. It forms part of the grieving and even recycling process. For communities which still practise it, it is believed to guide the souls of the deceased into the bodies of living descendants.
We are horrified by this idea and this ‘reality’ which is not exactly myth. It does happen or has historically known to have happened in certain societies. But as our societies changed, so did our laws. We ceased to lawfully permit such behaviour.
In Hindu mythology, a Rakshasa is an unrighteous spirit who was known to a be man-eater or a cannibals. Rakshasas were particularly wicked humans in previous incarnations. They are notorious for disturbing sacrifices, desecrating graves, harassing priests and possessing human beings. As shape shifters, they can assume various physical forms.
These rituals, which were once part of humanity’s known history, became outlawed with time. We shunned such practises and we started new ones. These days, humans mostly choose to bury or cremate the dead. The bones of those who are buried can become tombs where we go to venerate or remember the deceased. The ashes of those who were cremated can either be kept in an urn or scattered in a body of water.
But for some reason, dead human flesh–unlike other forms of flesh–ceased to be suitable for human consumption. In the animal kingdom, cannibalism exists in many species, but definitely not in all. Animals don’t have formalised laws the way we do, but somehow they instinctually know what is permissible and what is not.
All the other nakshatras take and give. But in this nakshatra, we have to contend with the everythingness and the nothingness. That is the first rule to understanding this Nakshatra. What Mula Nakshatra does is return things to the Source as well as bring back things from the Source. And once you understand and accept that the nothingness is not death, is not misfortune, is not sickness, or even poison; but what it is, is our greatest fear and our greatest hope: the everythingness.
Vampiric spirits are usually the ones who do not want to return to the Source, which is why they linger and disturb those who are living. Not all spirits who pass on become vampiric in nature, but it seems that some do. But in the end, it is Maha Kali–the Great Cosmic Mother–who takes on an even more fearsome and ferocious form. She strikes and terrifies those that scare the living and returns them to Her. For no one and nothing in this world can last forever.
In the beginning She was there, and in the end, She will be there.
Embedded into this duality of nothingness and everythingness exists both the vast potentialities of fortune and misfortune. Some of it is eternal and some of it is ephemeral. In Mula Nakshatra, we are called to accept both the ugliness and the beauty that is born from that Cosmic Womb. The planet associated with this nakshatra is Ketu, which speaks for itself.
It is our deeds that define us… Till we have a change of heart.
And so it is. And so it was. And so it always will be. This is the Sanatan.