She is the eldest of the Mahavidyas. Clad in smoke, she rides through the world a solitary figure, accompanied only by her trusty Crow. She is the Hindu Crone Deity, the devourer of Lord Shiva and the Mistress of the Reality Beyond the Veil.
In mainstream Shaktism, She is clad in poverty, despair, disappointment, anger and all those things we instinctively label as ‘negative’ and ‘bad’, she is the Mistress of Maya. Her gifts, her blessings, her golden teachings come through the form of mis-fortune (in the conventional sense of the term), but hidden in each trial, each experience is the kind of wisdom or knowledge you require to transcend your own limitations.
However, in some Tantric variants of her iconography, she is shown as a woman who enjoys meat, wine, sex – all those things which chaste women should simply not do or want (in the Hindu view of the world). Thus, I would say – She is not the Goddess of Poverty or Disappointment, nor is She Prosperity or Virtue.
She simply exists Beyond all those Classifications and Categories of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’. She is Exactly Whom She Wants to Be.
And perhaps, … that is why She is seen as Terrifying.
Typically, she is worshiped by those who have rejected a worldly life as the kind of knowledge she provides stands in stark relief to social niceties and expectations. A modern-day Dhumavati may appear as the single mother, the divorcee, the widow, the crone – a woman who has simply rejected her reliance upon a male energy as her salvation and is ‘doing it herself’.
She is the only Mahavidya (Wisdom Goddess) who appears without a male consort in some form. She is the Hermit, She is the Wandering-Sage, She is the Woman Unafraid to be Alone and Unprotected as She moves through the World.
Her greatest lesson is one of Absolute Detachment. Categories of pleasure, sorrow, joy, rage, disappointment, no longer exist for Her as she sees the lessons or seeds of new paths that lie within each waking moment. She exists beyond our understanding of Space and Time and represents the Void Itself. The Eternal. The Transcendental Form of Shakti that contains All Within Herself.
Image Information: “Dhumavati Nepal” by Molaram – Kinsley, David R. (1997). Tantric visions of the divine feminine: the ten mahāvidyās. University of California Press p.189. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dhumavati_Nepal.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Dhumavati_Nepal.JPG; “Dhumavati” by Unknown – Hindu goddesses: visions of the divine feminine in the Hindu religious tradition by David R. Kinsley, cover page. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dhumavati.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Dhumavati.JPG; “Dhumavati silver panel” by Silver_door_in_Amber_Fort,_Rajasthan.jpg: Adaminaderivative work: Redtigerxyz (talk) – Silver_door_in_Amber_Fort,_Rajasthan.jpg. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dhumavati_silver_panel.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Dhumavati_silver_panel.jpg