MY WAY OF WORKING WITH CACAO
I work with cacao plant medicine in quite a traditional way, rooted in a deep personal relationship with the spirit of the plant, sometimes called "Ixcacao" (reflecting the Mayan roots of much of what is known of cacao's history as a sacred plant) or "Mama Cacao" (for her strong, loving, even fierce maternal energy). Like the Mayans, I hold ceremonies in which participants can be assisted by the plant medicine as they embark on a trancelike shamanic journey (whilst lying down). Contemporary cacao ceremonies take many forms - my way of working with cacao comes from my first cacao teacher (an Amazonian plant medicine shaman who first brought ceremonial cacao to the UK and worked with it in the same way as she had worked with ayahuasca in the Amazon), and my own subsequent ongoing cacao journeying explorations, studies and experiences. (Mine is very much a gentle path and cacao is my one chosen plant medicine!)
I also draw on over seven years of experience holding safe, compassionate and sacred space as a yoga teacher. I work with profound respect for this ancient plant medicine, offering you a chance to dive particularly deep within during a guided journey. Everything about the ceremonial space I create is intended to cultivate an experience of being safely held and guided, so that you can relax on all levels, feeling able to share & be open to the experience, open to what arises when you relax and allow the rational mind to switch off so that the more intuitive, expansive states can be accessed. In this state, we call on the energy of the cacao to assist us on our journey of heart-opening, intuitive insights and emotional release.
For some, this opens into a profoundly spiritual experience, though I would always advise participants not to place particular expectations of what their personal journeying experience will be (eg expecting to have visions), particularly if this is your first experience with ceremonial cacao. Some participants form an instant & powerful connection with the spirit of the plant, for others it may take more time & journeying. Being open to the experience as it unfolds is a good approach to life in general, and for a cacao ceremony in particular!
While journeying with cacao I have experienced a profound, deeply transformative spiritual and personal connection with the spirit of the plant, Ixcacao, herself a very powerful teacher. I have deep respect for Ixcacao, continue to nurture my connection to her and am honoured to work with her gentle, loving, potent energy & wisdom (which is generally offered very sweetly & compassionately, though she can also be very playful & blunt!)
BRINGING A YOGIC PERSPECTIVE TO THE EXPERIENCE OF A CACAO CEREMONY
I did undertake a formal training in working with cacao plant medicine, in the spring of 2018 (with Rebekah Shaman, in Ibiza); however I also find that my long-term background in yoga serves me well in this work, supporting the process of shamanic spiritual exploration & accessing more intuitive states of consciousness, which I would liken to aspects of the trancelike Yoga Nidra state, and also to the shift from the manomaya kosha (the egoic, emotional, reactive "lower" mind state of our being) to the jnanamaya kosha (the "higher" mind, the more intuitive, wise level of awareness- our "buddhi" mind). On a personal level, I consider my work with cacao as an extension of my yogic/spiritual life path.
Cacao can stimulate and unblock anahata chakra, the heart chakra; as with yogic approaches to heart-opening, I believe it's vital to cultivate groundedness and inner strength so that we are not unbalanced by the powerful release of blockages we may experience. This is why styles of yoga such as Ashtanga incorporate much grouding and strengthening before the heart-opening postures are introduced; and it's why the setting and structure of a sacred ceremony are so helpful & vital for guiding participants safely into and back out of this deep journey within & beyond.
It's also been my experience that only when we start to unblock and open up the heart can we start to access those higher, more intuitive states of consciousness - & ideally, in a loving & compassionate way...
WHY MY CEREMONIES ARE USUALLY FOR WOMEN ONLY
I offer these sacred ceremonies for groups of women, so there is a supportive empathic feminine energy to these sharing circles. I'm sometimes asked why my ceremonies are for women only. There is no protocol against men consuming sacred cacao, it's simply my personal calling to share with women primarily. I appreciate that many men are in touch with their feminine side too!
Cacao has a feminine energy which can be healing to connect with if you are a woman needing to heal your own relationship to your feminine aspect in some way, or to other females in your life. (Mother & daughter & childhood issues often come up!) Participants in these ceremonies often seek healing from trauma and abuse in ways which make an all-female environment feel much safer too.
There seems to be a greater healing of the female spirit occurring in our culture now, and a great rediscovery of feminine spiritual power, after a long history of repression and abuse and diminishment of our experiences and our voices. It is beautiful & moving to be able to connect with feminine power and spirit, in a group of open-hearted women sharing their stories and journeys, being heard and held, without judgement.
Dates for upcoming Cacao Ceremonies here
Learn about what happens in a ceremony and why you might benefit here
Cacao FAQs here
Learn about Cacao's ancient and more recent story as a spiritual superfood here and learn more facts about theobroma cacao here
"What a powerful and enriching experience! Feel very blessed to have been there...The ceremony was an extremely nurturing and powerful process within a safe, beautiful group of women. You held and supported us as a group with such grace, it was a truly empowering and life-changing experience." - Sarah
" Big thank you for an amazing experience. So rewarding to have a safe place to share honestly without judgement. Good to have time to reflect...It felt very positive and gave clarity to thoughts. Personally I feel I gained a great deal from Saturday's cacao ceremony." - Rachel