Here, we think of shakti as the divine feminine essence. But what does that mean? We like this insight from the Asia Society.
The term shakti refers to multiple ideas. Its general definition is dynamic energy that is responsible for creation, maintenance, and destruction of the universe. It is identified as female energy because shakti is responsible for creation, as mothers are responsible for birth. Without shakti, nothing in this universe would happen; she stimulates siva, which is passive energy in the form of consciousness, to create. Ardhanarishvara, a Hindu deity who is half male and half female, is an iconic representation of this idea. The deity is equally male and female, illustrating that the creation, maintenance, and destruction of the universe is dependent on both forces.
Shakti also refers to the manifestations of this energy, namely goddesses. Some goddesses embody the destructive aspects of shakti, such as death, degeneration, and illness, while other goddesses embody the creative and auspicious powers of shakti, such as nature, the elements, music, art, dance, and prosperity. Shakti may be personified as the gentle and benevolent Uma, consort of Shiva, or Kali, the terrifying force destroying evil, or Durga, the warrior who conquers forces that threaten the stability of the universe. Goddess worshippers often view their deity as the all-powerful Supreme Being, second not even to a male god.