skull garland

“Out of the surface of her (Durga’s) forehead, fierce with frown, issued suddenly Kali of terrible countenance, armed with a sword and noose. Bearing the strange khatvanga (skull-topped staff ), decorated with a garland of skulls, clad in a tiger’s skin, very appalling owing to her emaciated flesh, with gaping mouth, fearful with her tongue lolling out, having deep reddish eyes, filling the regions of the sky with her roars, falling upon impetuously and slaughtering the great asuras in that army, she devoured those hordes of the foes of the devas.”

Spirituality and Shiva

Shiva is known to grant boons to his devotees frequently, despite whatever sins they might have undertaken. He is called Bholenath, the innocent one, because he is pure in heart and easy to please. Which means, if you love him and worship him, and even if you suffer from self-made defects and weaknesses, you can be sure of his love and compassion.

The images of Shiva evoke in us deep emotions. Those who are inclined to worship Lord Shiva are naturally drawn to him, as they hold him in their minds.

He is a God of supreme simplicity, exemplary humility and austerity. A tiger skin and an elephant skin serve as his garments. His long matted hair is normally tied into a knot or left flowing. He has four arms. With one he holds his weapon the trident. With another, he holds Damaru, a small drum. The remaining two are held in abhaya (have no fear) and varada (dispensing of boons) mudras (postures).

The tiger and the elephant skin symbolically signify his ability to control and transform animal nature. The trident represents the three qualities, namely sattva, rajas and tamas. The damru denotes his connection with the primal sound AUM, the creation of alphabets, languages, grammar and music.

His long matted hair denotes his spiritual life and His great powers. It is also compared to the night sky. He wears a garland of snakes around his neck. Sometimes we see more snakes: one across his body like a sacred thread and two acting as bracelets around his muscular hands.

The snakes symbolically represents his control over desire and sensuality. Sometimes in his ferocious aspects, he is shown wearing a garland of skulls.

The crescent moon adorns his hair like a silver diadem. And the Ganges flows from his head down into the world below.

Here are some Mantras chanted to please Lord Shiva.

1. Shiva Moola Mantra
ॐ नमः शिवाय॥
Om Namah Shivaya॥

2. Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra
ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम्
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात्॥
Om Tryambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushti-Vardhanam
Urvarukamiva Bandhanan Mrityormukshiya Mamritat॥

3. Rudra Gayatri Mantra
ॐ तत्पुरुषाय विद्महे महादेवाय धीमहि
तन्नो रुद्रः प्रचोदयात्॥
Om Tatpurushaya Vidmahe Mahadevaya Dhimahi
Tanno Rudrah Prachodayat॥

Om Namah Shivaya!

By K.Nagori

Guru Dragpo. Tibet, 18thC. Met Museum, New York. 

“Guru Dragpo, a fierce emanation of the guru-saint Padmasambhava, stands astride a flaming aureole holding a ritual tool, the vajra, and a black scorpion. The skin of a tiger is drawn around his waist while the flayed skin of an elephant is draped over his shoulders. He wears a crown adorned with skulls and a garland of severed heads. In this wrathful meditational form, Guru Dragpo was an important protector deity of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. In the upper register are depictions, from left, of Manjushri, Shadakshari Lokesvara, Amitabha, Padmasambhava, and the wrathful deity Hayagriva. In the lower register appear the ireful deities of Guru Dragpo’s retinue, including blue Vajrapani to the left and the yaksha Jambhala, god of wealth, at center.”

Kali’s name means “black” and is also derived from the Sanskrit word for “time” ie Kaal. She is power (Shakti) in the Raw form. She is called “Runda Malini” ie the one who wears a garland of skulls. These skulls represent her victory as she refuses to differentiate. These skulls are a symbol that she is above the 3 gunas, just like her consort Mahakal. Kali’s is a form of Adi Shakti, A form made out of rage, wrath for the ones against nature. She chops of our heads, not physically but spiritually, thus killing our ego. She cremates our desires.

Most people fear Kali. They think she is here to kill. But how can a mother kill her own children? She wants to kill your ego, the false you, the limited personality that you have been carrying for many births. By destroying your vices she then takes you to Shiva.

Controlling any Shakti isn’t easy. Controlling Shakti in her raw state as cosmic energy is impossible.

Kali is “Smashan Vasini” the Ruler of the Cremation Grounds. This depicts that her rage is like fire. It incinerates everything that gets in her way. Rudra Bhoomi (Smashan) is where we see death, the eternal reality. It’s called the Rudra Bhoomi as it’s a place where tears flow, a place where we see ourselves. The very embodiment of Death, Mahakal and Mahakali haunt the Smashan amidst the spirits, corpses and ashes of burnt bodies. Kali is found in the Smashan as she is cremating the Karmas from your casual body freeing you from the oblogation of being born again.

Someone with a clear consciousness will not fear Kali. She is beautiful yet terrifying and fierce. Her rage is primarily meant to annihilate anything that’s not worth keeping. Her rage helps us to cross over as she ruthlessly destroys the filth within us. She devours Kala (Time) and then resumes Her own dark formlessness. She is the magnificent Liberator!

Orchid Jasper - Pedri

Another Quartz demon, I swear this is the last quartz/agate type gem I’m doing. This gem has lots of pinks and purples and some brown that made a good gold substitute. I made his mask an actual mask rather than someone’s face bc that’s not how gems work but tried to make up for it by replacing the bird skulls on his garland with the gems of defeated jaspers that he’s bored holes into to stop them from being able to reform, maybe he killed them in the kindergarten and the center one is the rival he wears the face of in the comic.

Overall he looks pretty cool and the bodysuit is interesting at least.

next(though maybe not today) - Odin

The Sedlec Ossuary (Czech: Kostnice v Sedlci) is a small Roman Catholic chapel, located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. The ossuary is estimated to contain the skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, whose bones have in many cases been artistically arranged to form decorations and furnishings for the chapel.

Four enormous bell-shaped mounds occupy the corners of the chapel. An enormous chandelier of bones, which contains at least one of every bone in the human body, hangs from the center of the nave with garlands of skulls draping the vault. Other works include piers and monstrances flanking the altar, a large Schwarzenberg coat of arms, and the signature of Rint, also executed in bone, on the wall near the entrance.


Chinnamasta is associated with the concept of self-sacrifice as well as the awakening of the kundalini – spiritual energy. She is considered both as a symbol of self-control on sexual desire as well as an embodiment of sexual energy, depending upon interpretation. She symbolizes both aspects of Devi: a life-giver and a life-taker. Her legends emphasize her sacrifice – sometimes with a maternal element, her sexual dominance and her self-destructive fury. Though she enjoys patronage as part of the Mahavidyas, her individual temples – mostly found in Northern India and Nepal – and individual public worship is rare, due to her ferocious nature and her reputation of being dangerous to approach and worship. Her individual worship is restricted to heroic, Tantric worship by Tantrikas, yogis and world renouncers.

Chinnamasta is described as being as red as the hibiscus flower or as bright as a million suns. She is depicted mostly nude and with dishevelled hair. She is described to be a sixteen-year-old girl with full breasts, having a blue lotus near her heart. Chhinnamasta is depicted wearing a serpent as a sacred thread and a garland of skulls/severed heads and bones, along with other ornaments around her neck. She carries her own severed head – sometimes in a platter or a skull-bowl – in her left hand and holding a khatri, a scimitar or knife or scissor-like object, in her right hand, by which she decapitated herself. A crown on the severed head and bangles, waist-belt ornaments may be also depicted. Three streams of blood string from her neck, one enters her own mouth, while the others are drunk by her female yogini companions, who flank her.

Vajrabhairava with Consort. Tibet. 1700s.     

Sadhana Description: Shri Vajra-Mahabhairava, dark blue, with nine faces, thirty-four arms and sixteen legs, abiding in pratyalidha posture. Capable of devouring the three worlds, he is shouting ‘Haha’ and has rolled up tongue, bared fangs and a frown. Beside the frown, his eyebrows and eyes blaze like the fire at the time of destruction. His pale yellow hair streams upwards. Threatening the worldly and supermundane gods, he terrifies even the terrible, roaring like thunder the great sound of PHEM and eating human blood, grease, marrow and fat. He is crowned with the five frightful dry skulls and adorned with a skull garland of fifty fresh heads, a black snake as sacred thread, a circlet of human bone. He is naked of body, with a huge belly. His sex stands erect. His eyebrows, eyelashes, beard and body hairs blaze like the fire at the end of time.

“ Softly smiling, you shine with a crimson glow that may be compared to a thousand newly risen suns. You wear a silken veil and a garland of skulls. Blood smears your breast. Three voluptuous eyes adorn your lotus face; the moon is your diadem. Your lotus hands show the gestures of victory of wisdom, the granting of boons, and the allaying of fear.”

Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi, late 18th century

China: Qing Dynasty, 1750-1799
Gilt bronze inlaid with gemstones and pigments

In this dramatic image, Chakrasamvara, whose name means “joined to the wheel of wisdom and bliss,” is locked in a sensual embrace with his spouse Vajravarahi. Their coupling, known as yab-yum, or “father-mother” posture, symbolizes the union of wisdom and compassion. Each of Chakrasamvara’s four faces has a fierce expression, a third eye and a skull tiara. In addition, he wears garlands of skulls and severed heads, and his 12 arms hold various attributes: a lasso and arrow, as well as a thunderbolt and bell in his principal hands, crossed in front of Vajravarahi. The other symbolic weapons, which were attached separately, have been lost over time.

The Norton Simon Art Museum

Hayagriva, 17th century

Tibet or Mongolia (?), 1600-1699
Gilt bronze with pigment

Hayagriva, known as “one with a horse’s neck,” is an important deity in China, Tibet and Mongolia, where the nomadic population adopted him as a protector of horses and of the Buddhist faith. Three horse heads emerge from his flaming hair. He has six arms, three faces and four pairs of legs; these multiple limbs proclaim his divinity and terrifying visage. He stands in the menacing alidha, or warrior’s pose, upon eight snakes, which are enemies of the horse. 
He is adorned with a tiara of skulls and a long garland of severed heads, and he is wrapped in an elephant hide. His voice is said to thunder like that of a horse roaring with the power to subdue all demonic forces.

Norton Simon Museum

Photograph of sculpture panel on the façade of the sanctuary of Vaital Duel, Bhubaneshwar, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections, taken by William Henry Cornish in 1892. The Vaital Deul in Bubhaneswar (late 8th Century) is an unusual temple with a rectangular sanctuary covered by a barrel-vaulted roof. On the top of the tower are three miniature amalakas with small pot finials. The projection on the façade houses a Shiva Nataraja and an image of the Sun god Surya. The sanctuary walls have carved niches with figures of deities, couples and graceful maidens framed by bands of scrollwork. The adjoining rectangular mandapa has miniature shrines and a roof of sloping slabs. The main deity of this temple is Chamunda (a form of Durga), with a garland of skulls, seated on a corpse, flanked by a jackal and owl. This along with various interior carvings like the skeletal head have given rise to the view that this temple was used for Tantric rituals. This view shows a powerful sculpture of the goddess Durga killing the buffalo demon Mahisa.

The British Library