The Shadow Goddess of the Cactus Cave

My very artistic and generous friend, Judy, made me a beautiful green, horsehair ceramic woman.  This figurine held a bouquet of pretty sticks, and wore a headdress of the same thin, straight sticks.  I thought she would look great on our forested hillside at the entrance of a cave, which is adorned and protected by a prickly pear cactus.

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This is her story. It is a Winter Solstice story:

She awoke at the entrance of a dark cave, not knowing where she came from or how she got there. There were many animals standing, waiting expectantly in front of her.

“Are you here to help us?” squawked the Steller’s jay.

bird talk 6

“Yes,” chimed in the bluebird and the chickadee harmoniously, “Can you stop the Coopers hawks from killing us?”

“And the coyotes from destroying our families?” Squeaked the gopher and the muskrat simultaneously.


The bunny nodded hopefully.

“Are you our Queen?” Chirped the red squirrel.



They all had “enemies” they wanted her to eliminate.

“A queen?” She thought to herself. Why, yes, I could help them all to get along. I shall be Queen of the Cactus Cave, and all will adore me because I am so beautiful. I can stop them from hurting each other.”

“Yes!” She affirmed to the animals. “I am your Queen of the Cactus Cave!”

That night, after all the diurnal animals left, the new queen settled in for a nice, quiet sleep.


Suddenly she was awakened by someone jumping on her and eating her headdress down to nubs, and brazenly chewing up her bouquet. “Who are you and what are you doing?!” She screamed.

“Who am I?!  Who are you, and what are you doing in my cave?!”

“I am the Queen of the Cactus Cave, and I am here to heal this forest with my beauty!”

“Beauty?” Ridiculed what she could now see was a pack rat. “Look at you! You have no crown. You have no belongings.  You are nothing! I have taken your beauty from you. It was easy.  Your superficiality has degraded you.” With that said, the rat pushed her out of the cave, and she rolled all the way down to the bottom of the ponderosa covered hill, almost falling into the freezing creek.


First, the bat came. “Are you alright?”

“No, a pack rat attacked me, and stole my beauty!” She whimpered.

“Ah,” said the bat, as it clicked her with its sonar. “I am usually gone this time of year, but I stayed to tell you that you will go through a dark and scary journey, but in the end you will be reborn into who you truly are. I am quite familiar with caves. Part of you will die. You will be given challenges. You will be confronted with all of your Fears. You will be initiated into your true destiny. Your former self will be broken down through intense tests, and you will let go of the old, and create the new. It will only be upsetting to the degree that you are attached to being the beautiful queen.  The forest is your mirror.”

The queen thanked the bat, but was left confused and overwhelmed by the prophecy she had just heard.

Then she heard giant footsteps approaching. The big black bear picked her up, and took her back to the cave. “You must go within to find the resources necessary for your survival.  You must meditate in your cave, and figure out who you are, and to find Sacred Love and Grace within. I came out of my den to tell you this.”

She crawled further into the cave this time. “Silly bear, I know who I am. I am the beautiful queen,” she thought to herself, but self- doubt crept into her heart, and she cried herself to sleep.

“You again! I thought I got rid of you!” Shouted the pack rat. “You are an imposter! You haven’t earned the right to be a queen! Get out of my cave!” And again, he pushed her out of the cave, and down she rolled right into the creek. Splash!

“Oh, you poor thing,” said the beaver soothingly. “You are sad and cold. Climb on my back, and I will teach you how to build your dreams.”  On the way, they went under the ice, and he taught her how to breathe air from the bubbles that he had left at the surface along the way to his lodge.


Inside the lodge, it was surprisingly warm, and she cuddled with the furry beaver family to stay even warmer. They bestowed a sense of harmony upon her, and taught her how they work together. She thanked them heartily, and left to go back to her cave to work things out with the pack rat.

On the way, she encountered a raccoon, wearing a mysterious and mystical mask. The raccoon told the queen, “Share your time, not your beauty. Be present in the moment. Be adaptable and curious. Create a doorway in your mind to cross into new dimensions, and new ways of being. Don’t hide your true self behind a mask of your perception of beauty.” She also taught the queen how to defend herself, and to take care of herself so she could take care of others.

Then along came a skunk who taught her the meaning of respect. Self-respect, and being respectful of others and their processes.

She could feel herself deepening, and her heart opening. It was a beautiful and scary feeling. She looked at the moon and stars, and realized that she was feeling humble.

Just then, the queen, who didn’t feel much like a queen anymore, heard singing. She looked up and saw a porcupine waddling toward her. They laughed together, and she learned that enjoying life and keeping a sense of wonder can cause happiness. The porcupine was so good natured, and taught her about strength within vulnerability. She gave her some quills for her basket, as she warned of being too sensitive to the barbs of others, as well as being careful not to use barbed words.


Along the way, the queen met several other night animals. Coyote taught her to laugh at herself, and to see humor and whimsy in everyday occurrences, and to have fun.

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Deer was very tender and gentle with her, and gave her dried flowers for her basket.


Elk taught her about stamina and also comradery with those of her own gender.

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A fox appeared out of nowhere, and taught her about blending in to the night, to  be aware of her energy field and how to listen to Spirit.

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Weasel taught her how to understand the hidden meaning or reasons behind what someone might say; to understand what is really in their heart.

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A great horned owl flew down silently from a tree, from where he had been watching her. He took her gently in his talons to just outside of her cave. “I need to tell you some things, dear one,” he hooted.

“Wisdom is what you need, and you are rapidly gaining it with the help of the night people. You must learn to be silent and listen. Observe and honor your intuition. You must see the total truth, without lying to yourself. You must learn to love and embrace your shadow self, the parts that are hard to visit, but must be healed and cleared.”

“The darkness is a gateway to understanding. It embraces everything. Its nature is love, and in our confusion, we project terror on to it, or ugliness, or wrong, bad, unacceptable or unbearable.  It is all our imagination, or the story that we make up about it. It all just is.  Accept it, and don’t fight what is.”

The owl hooted to the pack rat that it is time now to let the “Shadow Goddess” of the Cactus Cave live here. The pack rat agreed with the owl, but from behind a rock said. “I was doing it to teach her a lesson, and to help her transition from pretentious queen to genuine Goddess.”

The owl nodded and gave our Shadow Goddess a feather for her basket to help with her transformation, intuition and dreaming.

She looked in her basket and was grateful that everything in it meant something deep inside her, as opposed to monotonous straight sticks. She smiled. She said a silent thank you for all she had learned.

_DSC0221Shadow Goddess crawled

way back into the cave

where she would live in

darkness, except for

about 15 minutes of

light every day, that

came in from a hole in the top of the cave.

She was grateful for the light, but was very comfortable in the darkness. She and the pack rat became great friends.

The daytime animals started coming to her.

“Come in, my dear. Have some tea.  Are you upset? Angry?  Afraid? Has someone pushed your buttons? Are you sad? Tell me all about it,” she said compassionately.

And they did, and all the animals began to feel more gratitude, love, harmony and happiness. They shed many tears of joy as they realized that they had no enemies, and that all was in balance.

And when the longest night came, the Shadow Goddess of the Cactus Cave delighted in the darkness. Winter Solstice had become her favorite time, and always reminded her of the turning point of her life, as it is the turning point of the year.

Happy Solstice everyone!

And Happy Longest Day to those in the Southern Hemisphere!


84 thoughts on “The Shadow Goddess of the Cactus Cave

  1. Thank you so very much for your stories. I am new to them, but they resonate so deeply within me. They speak of wisdom, seeking, joy, sorrow, and love. May you have a Blessed Christmas and please continue the stories!


  2. Your winter solstice story was just great. And since I met the Queen in person she did appear to have lost some of her original perceived beauty but was still a sight to behold. Small, yet large and recognizable in The giant cave in which she dwells: I didn’t realize her importance in the scheme of things. Quite a transformation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Michele! Yes, I thought you might like to know her whole history or herstory, since you met her. She is important for sharing shadowy things with. I often go to her when feeling some kind of negativity. I use her a lot in my SpiritWalks as well.


  3. Mary I am so glad that you visited my site because it brought me to yours. This was beautiful!! I love your writing style and the lessons that you teach. The photos were of nature and the animals truly add to the story.

    Love and Light,


    • Thanks Sandy!Seems like we have a lot in common philosophically, as well as our love of nature and beauty. Thanks for following!


  4. Reblogged this on Tania Marie's Blog and commented:
    This is such a beautiful Winter Solstice story from the even more beautiful soul, Mary Maulsby. Thank you Mary for resharing this blog from last year, bringing it to my attention now. I love it and hope it will shine some light on the value of darkness and shadows, as you come to understand who you really are more deeply. Winter Solstice blessings and enchantment to all!


    • Thank you for your comment, Val! I am glad you liked it. She sits up there in her little cave on the hill. She receives visits from people on SpiritWalks where she hears their fears, sadnesses, anger or disappointments. She is a good listener. You are right, she helps people discover their own inner wisdom and their inner goddess. Have a wonderful Solstice!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Hariod! I highly encourage you to go out and meet them, as it is always pure joy to be gifted by their presence. What ever wisdom you might be needing in the moment is who will appear. I hope you meet just the right ones to bring you joy during these darker days. May your Solstice be warm and filled with deep love.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful story, and very timely, especially meaningful for me now, as Bear advises, “You must go within to find the resources necessary for your survival. You must meditate in your cave, and figure out who you are…”

    Oh, I’m trying, Bear, I’m trying…


    • Thank you Joe! Healing the parts of ourselves that the darkness mirrors is the gift that Bear encourages. As we peel the layers of the onion, who we truly are emerges and shines on the Love within our hearts. I wish you all the best as you walk with Bear.


  6. This is so beautiful and meaningful, Mary! Thank you so much for reposting. I love the teachers in the story. I love that our lives are so full of teachers. Have a wonderful Winter Solstice! It is a magical time of year indeed.


    • Me too, Bee. I love that our lives are so full of teachers! Thank you for your comment and I hope you have a wonderful, magical Winter Solstice and winter season.
      Peace and Joy


  7. Reblogged this on Reiki Dawn and commented:
    This was shared by Tania Marie on her blog. I wasn’t able to reblog but went to Mary Maulsby’s site to reblog this touching and poignant parable with all the beautiful animal spirit guides assisting with the transformation through shadow work of the Cave queen. Love this. Thank you so much


    • Thank you so much Dawn for the reblog and your comment. I thought I thanked you, but then it wasn’t here, so I went back to your site and didn’t see where I thanked you there either. So, if you already read my thank you, here I am again thanking you. 🙂 I hope you have a lovely Solstice and that your winter season is exquisitely beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Cheryl! Nice to see you and I’m so glad you liked it. I hope you have a beautiful Solstice and Christmas with joy and peace, happiness and warmth.


  8. Thank you, Mary for this gift of words to live by! This is the perfect Winter Solstice story to read and add to my traditions at this Turning of the Wheel! You have been a great inspiration for me this year! May your Yule be filled with Sweet Peace.

    Bright Blessings and Love!


    • Aw, Fim, thank you so much! It has been wonderful having you for a friend here on WP. I look forward to much more of our relating in the coming year. May your Yule also be filled with Sweet Peace, Blessings and Love. ❤
      Joy to you Fim


    • Hey Sindy!!
      You came by! Thanks! I’m glad you liked it. I guess I should have said nocturnal as well, haha….instead of night time people. That might have made diurnal not so weird. We use that word in daily conversation so I don’t think of it as unusual. Happy Solstice to you too, friend. Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This was so so magical Mary, and I am so thankful you reposted it for I would not have read such a wonderful tale..
    Showing us how Nature is entwined and connected.. Your beautiful photo’s could never be outshone, and I love your narrative .. You are a natural story teller, and I could easily see you writing children’s books as you nurture them into the art of Nature’s world with spiritual insights between each line 🙂

    Sorry I am late my friend.
    Love and Blessings Sue xxx ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a generously awesome comment, Sue! Thank you!
      I have often thought of writing children’s books…one in particular has been in my head for years. Karin actually said I should make this into a children’s story illustrated by none other than you! Your paintings are so beautiful.
      I’m happy that you liked this story and the photos. The fox picture was during such a magical moment. We had a whole conversation. I don’t know if you can tell from the photo that it is very young, maybe an adolescent.
      Anyway, thank you for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful wonderful blessed, merry and happy everything!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You should consider a children’s book Mary.. 🙂 and I can imagine you talking to that young fox… 🙂 you should here me talking to the trees, birds and even our pond fish LOL.. 😉 Happy Holidays xxx


  10. What a wonderful story of life! My medicine animal cards have been such a gift to me understanding what each animals comes to teach me. Visiting an ancient cave in Western Australia during my holiday I realised how important it is to continue to go inward and nurture our mind and spirit. To accept the shadow and the light within. Beautiful words of wisdom as always Mary, thankyou.


    • Hey Karen,
      That cave must have been awesome. Deep inside the Mother. Yes, she does teach us to accept the shadow and the light within…in so many different ways. Thank you for your comment Karen. It is always so nice to connect with you on one or the other of our blogs. Happy New Year. May you be blessed deeply in ways you hadn’t even considered.
      Much love to you

      Liked by 1 person

      • The cave was amazing Mary. Some of the stalagmites were 250,000 years old! There was very strong energy in there, but after awhile, it felt heavy, so it was good to rise to the top again. Happy New Year too, I hope you continue to be abundant and receive everything you need. I am very excited about 2016,

        Liked by 1 person

  11. 2016 still doesn’t feel real to me. It’s just in 2 days, so I better get used to it. We usually do some visioning on the 31st, so it will sink in then. I also like to do a card reading for myself on the first. Your excitement for the coming year is contagious. Thank you! ❤


    • Thank you so much! Yes, wondrous adventurous New Year! Hope it is a great one for you! I look forward to more of your informative and fun posts!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh good! I’m so glad you liked the story. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I hope you will come back.


    • They can indeed. I very much enjoyed the nature aspect of your blog. I will return. Thank you for coming by here and commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it! There are so many metaphors in Nature! Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate it!


  12. Hello dear Mary, what beautiful writing! you have a natural talent for these kind of spirit infused stories.
    Like many others, my first thought was “wow, this should be a children’s book”.

    so just do it! Dream 2016 into action and collaborate with your friend Sue Dreamwalker and make a lovely book! you can self-publish via Lulu (

    I’m going to heart-felt return your words and wishes to you Mary,

    May you be blessed deeply in ways you hadn’t even considered

    love, Debbie


  13. How beautiful a story you weave dear Mary.. I came by to see if there was a new post since my last visit, so decided to do some browsing among your past post and came upon this Gem of a Story.
    I so Love this story and how the Queen of the Cactus Cave grew from the wisdom of all of those surrounding her..

    Such a great message of findings one’s self as we learn her not to hide behind her masks of perceptions of Beauty.. And how they taught her self respect and being respectful to others..

    I was delighted to see how the story unfurled as she no longer felt so grand, but was humbled. Seeing the importance not of grandeur, but how unity and laughter, were what really made one happy.

    The wise Great Horned Owl gave her such wisdom to observe her intuition and not lie to oneself. As well as embracing ones shadows.. And the importance of Acceptance. Not to fight against what is..

    A great story Mary.. And the Shadow Goddess as she became known as was there for all… Making friends with the pack rat. The Winter Solstice being the Longest Night.

    We are now approaching the Longest Day in the Summer Solstice and an apt time that I came to read it today…

    We can all take great lessons here from your story Mary.. We do not need to shout from the roof tops who we are, or what we do, we do not need to be published writers or gurus… But we gather together the wisdom via the lessons of life, and those who pass by our windows as we sit behind our screens in our own various caves. We pass along the wisdom gained by a few words here and there.. And I know we are content..

    Love and Light dear sister..
    Your love shines bright in the world..

    Sue xxx ❤ ❤


    • Aw Sue, another lovely comment. I loved every word, every sentiment and every validation of the story!
      She is still there in her cave. I went to see her the other day. I go there when I need to get something off my chest. She can transmute any negative energy into positive. She actually needs it like trees need what we breathe out. Isn’t this planet just amazing, and how we have all come together here, as you said growing from each others’ wisdom and words?
      Your light shines brightly too, Sue.
      Bright blessings of Love and Light to you. Thank you for looking around when you didn’t see a new post. ❤
      Peace in Unity

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that is wonderful that she is still there.. And you go talk to her.. 🙂 It was a delight to read.. And I have saved the story in my browser, for I want to read it to my Granddaughter when she comes to stay next time.. 🙂 it was so good.


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