Death Skulls of Kali with Alison Love

February 5, 2018 | 1 Comment

I’ve been resisting it. I’ve felt blocked, as if a big boulder was preventing a stream from flowing. You see, I have birthed a book and yet now, as it’s in it’s final stage of gestation, I can’t seem to let it go to take its first breathe into the world. This creative process, this dilemma of sorts, was seen and witnessed by my friend and artist Alison Love. So now there is finally movement. We sometimes need those extra pair of eyes, and heart to see us and see beyond what we can’t see. We sometimes simply need a witness to see our process. This was the case when I asked Alison Love to come shoot some images for the upcoming book I have coming out this Spring. My book Whole Beauty will be published by Artisan this April, and just as I am elated, I also have had some surprising moments of resistance.

Alison and I spent just a coupe of days together drinking tea and playing in the garden and in the canyons around my home. After our visit, this wise and exquisite being looked at me and said she felt that my reticence was due to the ending of a long chapter in my life. She said it likened to the Kali stories of releasing the ego and shifting into different phases of life. My book that I have spent so much time on, is a culmination of the last decade my life. With the release of the book, I was acknowledging the end of a chapter, and with that it would become one of kali’s death skulls on the garland of my life. A reminder of where I have come from, and also a reminder that once it’s birthed, its time for a new chapter, and a new way of living. My weekend with Alison was a reminder that we all have different ways of processing the ends and beginnings of chapters. The most vital aspect of being in the ‘hallway’ with projects, and life shifts are that we recognize and acknowledge the uncomfortable quality that can be brought forward. By being in the not knowing, we can begin to untangle the feelings and see the messages the threads are trying to weave.

I have admired Alison and her work for many years now. We met I believe in a restaurant in Venice when we were drawn to each other like a mutual girl crush. We both had young daughters, and we both looked like we were from a similar tribe of dark haired, earthy women. Over the years she has connected me to incredible women like May Lindstrom, and we have shared our journey of tea with Wu De and The Global Tea Hut. Her instagram account is always inspiring, and her site for her photographic work is celebration of  raw truth and beauty.


Alison Love in all her beauty


Alison and I were able to create some images that were more about deconstruction beauty. We chose to show elements of the body and being in nature which is more about the visceral reality of natural beauty.

Here is some more on the idea of releasing our work into the world not unlike Kali and her use of Death Skulls ~

Ma Kali wears a garland of skulls and a skirt of dismembered arms because the ego arises out of identification with the body. In truth we are beings of spirit and not flesh. So liberation can only proceed when our attachment to the body ends. Thus the garland and skirt are trophies worn by Her to symbolize having liberated Her children from attachment to the limited body. She holds a sword and a freshly severed head dripping blood. As the story goes, this represents a great battle in which she destroyed the demon Raktabija. Her black skin represents the womb of the quantum unmanifest from which all of creation arises and into which all of creation will eventually dissolve. She is depicted as standing on Shiva who lays beneath Her with white skin (in contrast to Her black or sometimes dark blue skin). He has a blissful detached look. Shiva represents pure formless awareness sat-chit-ananda (being-consciousness-bliss) while She represents “form” eternally supported by the substratum of pure awareness


One comment

  1. Rose DeMaris says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Shiva. I’m about to finish birthing a creative project that has been in the works for seven years and can completely relate. This speaks to my tentative heart and gives me courage. Can’t wait for your book! Thank you from a longtime reader <3

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