I met Durga once. Yeah, as in the Hindu deity, destroyer of evil, warrior aspect of the Divine Mother.
I don’t usually talk about experiences like this publicly, but the other night I was frank about my connection with Durga on a Facebook post, and a couple friends asked about it.
After I wrote them about my experience, I thought, upon consideration, that I’d like to share this publicly after all. Why? Well, because we don’t talk about experiences like this very often, and maybe we should. And if this speaks to anyone reading this at a heartfelt level, then great: I have accomplished my mission of authentic connection and communication.
About eight years ago now, I just went to sleep one night, and then I had this dream. It didn’t feel like a dream, but I’ll call it that because I was not in my normal waking state when it happened.
In this dream I walk into a room. In the corner is a fire pit, but cold and dark now. The room is shadowy. As I’m walking past the fire pit I realize it is full of bones scattered through the ashes–and then as I am looking at it in that moment, the bones start to stir.
Then suddenly they start to assemble, or reassemble, themselves into the form of a multi-armed woman. And the skull that was there in the ashes rolls to the top of this re-assembling figure, settles upon the neck, and looks right at me. The figure is now somewhere between skeleton and fleshed out body. “I see you,” her voice says to me.
I feel both staggered and transfixed. As the bones started to assemble I felt fear, but not ordinary fear, and then as the goddess manifested before me, I felt rooted to one spot and that fear turned to awe. Awe in its most profound sense. A terrifying awe. I couldn’t move, and when that head turned to me and she said “I see you,” I knew she saw me: my soul, all of me, through me–
I forced myself awake. It was on the verge of a nightmare, but not a nightmare. It was a visitation of the divine so powerful that I got up that very instant and went to my computer to look up what–or who–I had just encountered. She had never said her name in words but had radiated a sense of it all through me. The instant her attention transfixed me I “knew” (in my dream state) who she was: Durga.
And when I woke up, in the body, the funny thing is I didn’t know who or what “Durga” was. I had never heard that name before.
Yet I knew from that encounter that this was Durga; that I was meeting the Destroyer aspect of her (and that’s why it was a terrible awe, not a joyful one), and that she was there at a time in my life when my old life was being destroyed (and so it was; I just didn’t recognize that at the time, as I slowly lost all kinds of things over a period of a couple years: relationships, residence, a dear pet, belongings, old sense of self, old career path, everything: I was being re-made through a process of destruction and loss).
So although I could not make sense of that contact with the divine while I was in the middle of that process of transition, there was no mistaking that I had met Durga–or rather an avatar of her–for she also gave me to understand that if I’d met her in person on this plane or astral state, that her energy alone would have destroyed me where I stood.
One Other Divine Experience
The only thing I can liken this experience to is a dream-state vision I had once where I think I relived a moment from a past life: I am a young Indian boy and I clamber to the top of a ziggurat-type pyramid, just as fast as I can, and at the top kneel in prayer–then I am struck by a transcendental state of samadhi. And as I collapse to the floor there, unable to move, I am lifted out of my body and become one with All above the Earth that I see sprawling out below me. I stay in that state for a timeless while, and as I come back to the body, I come back to my own body, pseudo-dreaming in bed. Only now I was awake, and had tears streaming down my face. The experience was that powerful and overwhelming.
That’s what this encounter with Durga was like, only scary and discomforting. It is not pleasant to be seen directly by a destructive aspect of the divine. (!)
Ever since then I have observed Durga Puja (the annual Hindu celebration of this deity) and honored the goddess in some small way in my life and personal space.
Have you ever had an experience with the divine? If you’d care to share in the comments, I’d love to hear about it.