The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Dakini are Himalayan attendants of the goddess Kali, also known as “Cloud Fairies,” “Sky Dancers,” and “Celestial Women.” In English, dakini is alternatively translated as “fairies,” “furies” or “yoginis.” They are sometimes defined as “Spirits of Wrath.”
In pre-Buddhist times, the Sanskrit word dakini denoted a female death spirit, perhaps similar to a Valkyrie, found at battlefields, cemeteries, and cremation grounds.
In modern Hindi, dakin indicates “witch.”
From the ninth through at least the thirteenth centuries there was an active, vital spiritual tradition involving veneration of dakini with temples throughout India. Shrines centered on Tantric practice and adoration of 64 dakinis. Dakini rituals were practiced well into the sixteenth century when for now unknown reasons they began to fade from mainstream Hindu religion. Temples were eventually abandoned, although many buildings still remain and may be visited. (They were architecturally unique in India as they lack roofs, perhaps to allow the dakini to fly in and out.)
French explorer and magician Alexandra David-Neel, author of Magic and Mystery in Tibet (1932), translated dakini as “fairy.” See HALL OF FAME: Alexandra David-Neel.
Dakini can fly and possess magical powers. Although often described as dangerous (some allegedly have a taste for human flesh), they sometimes operate as personal guardian spirits and are invoked for initiation into the secrets of Tantra.
See DICTIONARY: Dakini, Yogini.