The portrait of a young woman as a witch


While walking back home from the university one day, a small stretch of road was particularly empty and there was no one else except a couple just a little further down. I must have glanced at them for a couple of seconds before moving my gaze away but just as I walked past them, the woman suddenly screamed out in an angry tone: Daayan. It was so loud that I had to stop and look behind. Just as I did, the woman started looking the other way, as if the loud screaming was nothing. I was baffled for a second, then understood that she’d used the term for me.

Daayan, from the Sanskrit Dakini, is a term for a witch. Worshippers of Kali, they’re thought to bring destruction to men. The legend says that they feed on the blood of young men, and destroy everything that is good and holy.

They’re also an important motif in Hinduism, Bon, and Tibetan Buddhism, frequently depicted as the consort in Yab-Yum representations, as a wise teacher of Vajrayana Buddhism, as a practitioner of tantric yoga and rituals, as a protector and meditational deity. The figure of Dakini can also be found in Japan as dakini-ten in Shingon Buddhism.

I still don’t know why an absolute stranger, unprovoked, had the sudden urge to call me this. Did she understand something about me that I did not know? And in recognizing my inner darkness, did she recognize her own?

For, in the desert, there is a woman who thinks the only blessing is to know your own nox.

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