The cave of transformation

Last week in Gaia Shamanism’s weekly journey circle we journeyed with the intention of meeting the Goddess, source of our lives, body of the land, ancestor of all beings.

The Earth Goddess has many names: Pachamama (Andean), Gaia (Greek), Mari (Basque), Umai (Mongolian and Turkic), and Mother Earth (North America) to name but a few.

Though I wasn’t sure which form of the Goddess would receive me, when I found myself suddenly standing on a craggy mountain ledge before the mouth of a dark cave, I knew.

Mari emerged from the cave in her frightening aspect: a hag with a gray stony face with wild and unkempt hair. She was the spirit of the mountain in human form.

I stepped forward and placed a bouquet of Eguzkilore, or yellow Basque sunflowers, at her feet.

Mari motioned for me to enter the cave.”Is it safe?” I asked.

Mari laughed: “I could make the very earth swallow you up right now.” Not very reassuring.

Or, on second thought, maybe it was.

I took a moment to notice and feel gratitude for the fact that the ground remained solid under my feet today, as it has every day of my life. One day, things might be otherwise. 

Again, Mari beckoned for me to come forward. This time I stepped into the cave.

Inside, I was surprised to find a world rich with beauty and treasure. There were two white silk thrones before me, gold tables with elaborate glass vases showcasing magnificent arrays of flowers, and loaves of bread, wrapped gifts, and fruits of many colors arranged in neat mounds about the cave.

Standing there, I realized that we were surrounded by many centuries of offerings of devotion to Mari. This dark cave in the craggy mountain was a hidden cathedral of love and gratitude for the sacred earth.

Mari walked over to her oversized throne, sat, and patted the white cushion next to her. She no longer looked like a hag, but now appeared as a beautiful black-haired woman with deep brown eyes. I sat with her.

Mari put her hands on my head “to heal my mind” as she put it, then placed my head in her lap where she combed my hair with her golden comb. Lovely though this attention was, I grew restless quickly. I could only see a narrow band of the cave from this position and wanted to see more. But when I tried to sit up, Mari held my head in place while continuing to gently stroke my hair.

To seek to enter into a deeper relationship with the sacred earth can be a frightening prospect—at least at first. To enter into the dark cave of climate change, pandemic, and social collapse at the behest of the Goddess is to enter a tomb that will only become a womb over the long passage of time.

Once we accept the earth’s invitation to transformation and step into Mari’s cave, however, we will begin to recover the lost riches, abundant love, and the undying devotion of our ancestors. The cost of recovering lost intimacy with the earth is the dissolution of our current way of life.

To enter into a relationship of devotion with the sacred earth, source of our lives, body of the land, ancestor of all beings, is to be held firmly by the powerful embrace of love and never to see the world the same way again.


If you would like to attend Gaia Shamanism’s free online journey circle this Wednesday, December 1, from 4-6 pm PST, email anna “at” gaiashamanism “dot” com.

All skill levels are welcome. Hope you can join us this week!

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