Tremble Before the Mighty Kali

Tremble Before the Mighty Kali

We take a look at the Hindu goddess Kali in preparation for the upcoming "American Gods" TV series.

One of our all time favorite books, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, will be making the jump from the page to our television sets (or computer monitor, or iPad, or whatever) when it premieres on Starz this April 30th. Over the next week we will be looking at how American Gods, the real-life gods that inspired the characters, and some of Gaiman’s other work have found their way into the world of tattoos.


All gods are imposing figures demanding awe and reverence, by definition they couldn’t be anything less. But even given those lofty standards, Kali is in a world of her own. Give the goddess a good look and you’ll see what we mean. Start with her bright blue skin and a blood-red tongue, move down to a necklace of skulls, and then we see her body with many arms, each one holding either a weapon of destruction or the occasional severed head. Even typing these words is enough to make me shudder in fear.


As the Hindu goddess of time, creation, destruction, and power, it’s easy to understand why Kali is such an important deity. Also known as the Black One, Kali is often associated with death as she arrives on battlefields to scoop up the spirits of fallen soldiers. All of those swords she carries are not just for show either, throughout legend Kali is known to make quick work of other demons when in battle. Even when faced with a seemingly unbeatable foe (Raktabija) that can regenerate itself from its own drops of blood, Kali finds a way to destroy the demon by sucking all of the blood up before it hit the ground.


Given Kali’s importance, and let’s be honest, her image, it’s no surprise that people have had the Hindu goddess tattooed on them. Robert Ryan, who specializes in spiritually significant work, has tattooed the goddess numerous times, always using an incredibly vibrant color palette. On the other hand, using his signature monochromatic blackwork, Jondix portrayed the goddess in an astounding backpiece.


We never know when Kali will come and bring our time to an end, so check out all of these artists out on their Instagram accounts as soon as you can. And don’t forget to check out American Gods when it premieres on April 30th.

We never know when Kali will come and bring our time to an end, so check out all of these artists out on their Instagram accounts as soon as you can. And don’t forget to check out American Gods when it premieres on April 30th.

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