This is the first of twelve posts where each week I will highlight one of the line drawings created for A Garland of Forgotten Goddesses. The artist is Laura Santi, and she created each of the images based on descriptions of the goddess in each story. None of these stories were available in English until now. A high quality digital download of the drawing is available at the artist’s Etsy page.

This is her dynamic portrayal of Bhadrakāḷī, a goddess from Kerala who battles demons with the aid of her partner Vetālī, on whom she rides.

Here are some quotes from Noor van Brussel’s translation:

Bhadrakāḷī gave up that terrible form of hers and bowed down before
her mother. She now had one face, three eyes, and sixteen arms with various weapons. She wore golden earrings and jewels on her head, a diadem, bracelets, a hip girdle studded with gems, arm rings, and much more. Śiva then summoned his daughter, made her sit in his lap and spoke. “‘Śiva said, “Daughter of mine, as I have a black throat, so you too will be the dark-­throated one: Kanthekāḷī! You will have a black form thanks to the darkness of my notorious black throat. Moreover, you came forth from my angry form, dark and fierce, so you shall be called the black-­colored Bhairavī.” …

“‘Bhadrakālī said, “When we go to Dārika’s fortress, I will present you with two-­hundred million demons on the war-­fest that is soon to occur.”’

“Hearing this, Vetālī was thrilled with delight and got up ̇ quickly to prepare herself. She bathed in the water of the ocean and adorned herself with mineral mud. Then she made a garland with flowers and creepers from the trees in the forest and tied it around her hands, head, hips, and neck. Then she put Kāli on her neck and on her back she carried the armies.”

“‘Vetālī said, “Auspicious lady, I am hungry and thirsty! I cannot carry you, Great Goddess. My stomach is hard to fill. Would you be able to do so? If you do, I will carry you and your forces on the battlefield of the demons.”

… Bhadrakālī stood firm, surrounded by her companions and radiating the splendor of victory.”

A Garland of Forgotten Goddesses, UC Press 2021