In Ceremony · Edition No 6

  EDITION NO. 6 · JULY 2021

Cacao Mama altar cacao beans
© Grit Siwonia

















Text By Serap Kara · PictureS by BAURE CHOCOLATES


The first time we came in touch with wild cacao was through Baure. Baure is the name of a town located in the eastern lowlands of the Bolivian Amazon, but it is also the name of a native ethnic group (Baure). Baure's chocolate creations are made from wild-growing cacao seeds in remote areas of the Bolivian Amazon. 



The cacao beans used to make this ‘chocolate’ come from an endemic and unique species in the world. Its origin dates back to pre-Columbian times. It grows in the depths of the Bolivian Amazon without human intervention. The wild  flavour is a clear differentiation from other cacao species, the taste is exceptional.



In the jungle, a tree grows much taller than a cultivated tree. It needs a skilled climber to fetch these cacao pods. Empty shells go back to Earth, fulfilling the natural cycle of reforestation with birthing new wild cacao life. 



Text & Picture by Serap Kara

Cacao loves well-drained soils with a high content of organic matter. Cacao grows best in the shade of larger trees such as coconut, banana, and avocado, which protect it from too much sun and wind. Cacao goes along well with avocado trees, mango trees, bananas, coconut palms, coffee, pineapple trees, and durian. Permaculture and diversity are naturally encouraged by Cacao. 


Cacao is very dependant on shade and is cultivated traditionally under a special shade tree. This tree is called Madre Cacao. Various trees are planted alongside the cacao tree in their roles as a madre cacao tree - some of them not only offer shade but also improve the quality of the soil. One of these trees was identified as Gliricidia sepium. 


Traditional Maya stories mention this tree as kan te', the "yellow tree", referring to the madre cacao tree. It is believed that the colour indicates that this tree is 'one of the guardians of the four cardinal points and, in its role as a world tree, stands at one of the four corners of the world and is associated with the patron of the forest and the wild animals' (Chocolate in Mesoamerica). Kan te' is regarded as a tree with magical powers and reappears in the great saga of the Hero Twins to assist them in their adventures.


A cacao tree in a natural environment can live up to 200 years, with about 25 years bearing fruit. However, on plantations, especially in monoculture, the trees often live for no longer than seven years.


TEXT BY SERAP KARA · Illustration by Alexis Aronson

The wild-grown and harvested Cacao from the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest brought a beautiful gift: the encounter with the jungle fairy. In the wild-grown Cacao, we can feel the wild, untamed heart of the forest and its ancient wisdom. 


The Jungle Fairy or Jungle Mother has become a dear companion in our circles. She is the heart of our medicine offering, as she, faceless and with a body of light, wears her jungle crown of wisdom. Her cosmic heart knows the way into the invisible, healing harmony.

When you place a piece of Cacao paste on your tongue and close your eyes, you will likely get in touch with the flavours and aromas unfolding. Then follow the energy of the Cacao and observe where it touches your senses. Some feel the vibration as a wave, some in a specific area of the body. Every Cacao offers a specific energetic aspect depending on the condition of growth and country of origin. Next to the taste and flavour, every ceremonial Cacao has a different message and a unique sphere of action. The Wild Cacao from Bolivia is a sacred invitation into the dream of the New Earth.


"The wild-harvested Cacao is exceptional, balanced, and complete in its spiritual essence. This Cacao activates and restores the roots and connects us to Pachamama, Mother Earth, a connection we urgently need in this time of creation. From there, the deva takes us lovingly into the realm of the heart, to be explored in great depths. At the same time, the channel upwards is re-calibrated, and the third eye and the crown chakra are touched. This is felt like a balancing of the energetic bodies.


The gift of this Cacao is a reminder of the preciousness of life. It touches all senses and unfolds in spacious, powerful waves throughout the energetic system. This Cacao paints aspects of the sea, the rainforest, and nature in a very healing way and reminds us of an Earth as we dream it to be - in harmonious balance and its fullest expression of a sacred life."


From: The Energetic and Spiritual Dimension of Cacao



The Tree of Life is a widespread motif in many myths and folktales throughout cultures. Many legends speak of a Tree of Life, which grows above the ground and gives life to gods and humans. This Tree of Life, or World Tree, is considered a world centre in the respective cultures. It was seen to bind together heaven and earth, representing a vital connection between the worlds of the gods and humans, the material world and the spiritual 'Otherworld'.

"The Tree of Life or world tree is a symbol to picture the greater cycles of life. A tree is deeply grounded. Through an intelligent root system, it is connected with other trees in the forest. The tree has been used to describe the cycles of nature for ages, as it symbolises the human connection and access to both the inner worlds and the upper worlds. In this connection all is flowing in a cycle.“ — Serap Kara


The Tree of Life is probably the most ancient human myth, and possibly a universal one. Oracles, judgements, or other prophetic activities were and still are performed at its base. The symbol of the Tree of Life occurred commonly in quest romances in which the hero sought the tree and needed to overcome a variety of obstacles on his way. There is also a notion that the World Tree told the story of the ancestors, and to recognise the tree was to recognise one’s place as a human being.


Throughout ancient history and mythology, the World Tree can be found, for example in the Garden of Eden of the book of Genesis, common to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as in Haitian, old European, and many Asian (shamanic) folklore. Ancient peoples, particularly Hindus and Scandinavians, thought of the world as a divine tree growing from a single seed sown in space; sometimes it was inverted. And "according to ancient myths from ‘original’ Europe (Celts, Baltic, Teutons, Slavs), humans were formed from the forest.“ (Serap Kara)


 Picture FROM Codex Féjervary Mayer Lacambalam

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License



"THE CODEX FEJÉRVÁRY-MAYER depicts specific aspects of the tonalpohualli the 260-day Mesoamerican augural cycle. The painted manuscript divides the world into five parts. T-shaped trees delineate compass points: east at the top, west on the bottom, north on the left, and south on the right. The four directions are distributed around a sacred center, shown here as Xiuhtecuhlti, the god of fire.


From Codex Fejérváry-Mayer. Jay I. Kislak Collection Website


Cacao was depicted as one of the major World Trees, watching the South, representing death, blood, ancestors in the colour red. Here, death becomes an integral part of rebirth.




Text by Lena Brandt · PICTUREs BY Various Artists

Among many cultures, forests are seen as places of danger, possibility, magic, transformation, and adventure. Places, where strange things might occur, and strange beings, like fairies, witches, and dwarfs might live. The image of the enchanted forest occurs in myths and folklore throughout the centuries and has its origin probably from regions where forests are common and the natural state of wild land.


The forest poses a landscape of longing, the epitome of protective nature, representing primal forces such as courage, endurance, or even immortality. It leaves us with a sense of awe and wonder, with inspiring thoughts of the immensity of nature and the depths of time, triggering a delighted or even fearful awareness of all that we do not know about this world.


Part of the age-old magic of forests also lies in the ideas that people have had about trees. Over time, forests and individual species of trees have come to represent different concepts in the imaginations of populations living in various geographical locations. In myths and legends from all around the world, trees appear as sources of life and wisdom, as the physical forms of supernatural beings, and as ladders between worlds - just as the Cacao tree.


The Cacao forest as well is a sacred place of magic. Where the jungle fairy resides and the Cacao deva encircles each tree and being. Where various trees and spirits weave together a web of harmonious coexistence. A place where the collective intelligence of Cacao manifests itself into matter and thus brings forward its medicine and magic into our world to be woven into circles, ceremonies, and everyday life.   


Mountain rice terraces of Luzon, Philippines • Picture by Aldrino via Unsplash
Mountain rice terraces of Luzon, Philippines • Picture by Aldrino via Unsplash
Forest of the Cedars of God, Lebanon • Picture by Nico Cohayek
Forest of the Cedars of God, Lebanon • Picture by Nico Cohayek

The tradition of the sacred grove was widespread in many cultures. These mystical, sacred spaces were, and oftentimes still are, associated with secrecy and initiation rites, and represent important features of the mythological landscape and cult practice among various communities.


The World Heritage List of UNESCO includes several groves and forests recognised for their spiritual as well as ecological values as sacred or holy. Among them are, for example, the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves in Queensland, Australia (containing geographical features considered as sacred by the Aborigines), the Horsh Arz el-Rab (Forest of the Cedars of God) in Lebanon, the forests of Mount Kenya in Kenya, (held as holy by the inhabitants), and a sacred grove in the mountain rice terraces of Luzon, the Philippines (still used by priests in rice ceremonies).


Forests of Mount Kenya, Kenya • Picture by Martin Mergili
Forests of Mount Kenya, Kenya • Picture by Martin Mergili
Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, Nigeria • Picture by Grace Stephen
Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, Nigeria • Picture by Grace Stephen


Text by LENA BRANDT · Infographic BY Cocoa Barometer

The Cacao tree grows within about 20 degrees of latitude north and south of the equator. This is called the '20/20 zone'. The main growing area of Cacao, especially for large-scale chocolate production, is now Western Africa. The largest producer, accounting for almost 45% of the total, is Côte d'Ivoire, followed by Ghana, Ecuador, and other African countries such as Cameroon. (Source: Cocoa Barometer 2020, Forecast 2019/20)

The current world market price of Cacao is $2.380 per metric ton / $2,38 per kg, of which a small share is received by the farmers. This share is the so-called farm gate price. This price depends on national regulations and is sometimes a fixed minimum price, other times a free market price. Most Cacao growing areas are located in countries with political instability, which is one of the reasons why the Cacao price is so volatile.



Farm gate prices 2018/19 per kg:


Ivory Coast: $1,34, fixed minimum price 60% of the CIF (Cost, Insurance, Freight) price

Ecuador: Free market price, approx. 90% of the world market price

Indonesien: Free market price, approx. 75-85% of the world market price



Despite some countries, like Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, having implemented stabilisation mechanisms to counteract the strong price fluctuations, the share of the world market price received by farmers has been volatile. The farm gate price fluctuates between 60-90% of the world market price and is thus usually far below the living income reference price (LIRP) - the minimum price necessary to earn a living income.


Opinions differ on the amount of the LIRP. Authors from Tony's Chocoloney speak of $2,2 per kg Cacao, whereas the Cocoa Barometer estimates an amount of $3,16 per kg that must be paid to farmers in order for them to be able to earn a living wage. Further information on this topic can be found on Tony's Chocoloney blog here and here, through the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, or via the annual Cocoa Barometer.


But the living income is not the only challenge the Cacao sector is facing. Next to human rights, environmental concerns, such as deforestation and degradation, climate change, the loss of biodiversity, the high use of agrochemicals, tree tenure and logging, and the need for agroforestry, are coming to play on a truly global scope. 


All over the 20/20 zone, old-growth forests continue to be cleared to make way for Cacao production. The increasing expansion of Cacao production in Latin America might lead to deforestation and forest degradation of some of the last remaining major rainforests. And the natural forest cover in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire has declined by more than 70% in the past three decades, and the last remaining national forests are endangered or already damaged.


Text By Serap Kara · Illustration by Katie Ness

We at Cacao Mama recognise Cacao as a living being and a life-sustaining force which we respect as Cacao Spirit. Although we love to connect with single qualities within the Spirit, we perceive the Cacao Spirit as one tribe and energy and see Cacao's Spirit connected to the earth plane and life here on Pachamama. 


Let's open to the global perspective and honour the Cacao Spirit as the vital force that breathes life into every Cacao tree. Whether we enjoy a bar of chocolate, buy organic, fairly traded, or ceremonial Cacao - through Cacao's medicine, we have access to all Cacao forests and trees worldwide.


This is an invitation to awaken the guardian inside each and every one of us. To take a step forward and allow transformation to guide us through uncertainty. May we be in Ceremony to strengthen the invisible net of harmony and send our prayers and blessings deep into the heart of the forest and illuminate the darkest places.


May every cup of ceremonial Cacao awaken the guardian, the caretaker, the wisdom keeper inside to serve the life force and thus foster a connected global culture. May we experience Spirit in all its sacredness.


Nurturing Nature; how Cacao guided the transformation of a garden


In March this year, as I began the Cacao Mama Ceremony training, I found myself standing in my garden. It was sad, tatty, neglected, unloved, but bursting with possibility and asking to be helped, to be reborn and nurtured. Rather like me, I thought. But, where would I even start? With Cacao, of course.


Each morning I sipped the intentionally prepared chocolate, outside (often wrapped in a warm jacket. Me. Not the Cacao!) and invited the energy of the collective to be with me, and help breathe beauty and life back into this space.


I began seeing clear visions, where I had been previously uninspired and became full of action, and energy, and motivation. A plan formed and I started digging. Many (many!) days later I had unearthed an old roof, broken tiles, and rubble. My back ached but I was happy. The transformation had started. 


Each night when I dreamt of the garden, I was shown what to do, where to do it and how to overcome challenges.


Day by day, I cleared and connected. I dug the lawn to create rounded borders longing to be filled with bee and butterfly-attracting shrubs. Carried breeze blocks, and built vegetable beds, used the rubble to create a rockery.


I dug up the area from the back door to the newly created seating space and laid a patio-path with salvaged slate - cleaning and roasting the many dandelion roots to make 'coffee' and tinctures.


I made steps on the slope to the lawn, the birds came and chatted, searching for food to feed their young. I planted seeds and watched them grow with excitement... all the while being guided. 

And now, I step outside each morning (yep, even when it's raining!) and tend the beds, pick raspberries and wild strawberries, harvest elderflower, and mangetout, waiting patiently for the beetroot, marrow, and kale to provide their nutritious bounty.


I sip Cacao watching the ground bees buzz the flowers, their legs heavy with pollen, the birds sing and swoop, the dragonflies whispering of the transformation... and I realise that in bringing the garden back to life, I have committed to doing the same with myself... with the guidance and love of Cacao. 


Emma lives in the beautiful South West of England, surrounded by the nature she is inspired by and works as a Consulting Astrologer, Mindfulness, and Health Coach. Drawing upon 25 years of experience - she specialises in helping both corporate and private clients to reduce daily stress, regain lost energy and connect to themselves more deeply with confidence, intuition, and trust. Instagram

Herman Hesse · Trees: Reflections and Poems

PICTURE BY goutham krishna

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.


In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.


When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured.


And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.


Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.


Text by Lena Brandt · Picture by wulan sari

July 26 marks the beginning of the Planetary New Year. A day celebrated by ancient cultures like the Mayan and Egyptian peoples.


In today’s world, we are generally dominated by the Gregorian calendar which was inherited from the Romans; it was used mainly to calculate when taxes were due to be collected and runs from January 1st each year. Whereas in other cultures, the tracking of time was and still is linked to the cycles and movements of the Sun and Moon, as well as other planets or even constellations like the Pleiades.



The Mayan Calendar, however, is a beautifully complex system attuned to the natural cycles of the Cosmos and Mother Earth. The calendar consists of not just one but three corresponding calendars, each with its own purpose and meaning: the Long Count, the Tzolkin (divine calendar), and the Haab (civil calendar). Each of them is cyclical, meaning that a certain number of days must occur before a new cycle can begin. The three calendars are used simultaneously.


The Haab is solar-based and consists precisely of 365 days. According to this calculation of time, the Mayans celebrate the New Year approximately every July (mostly on July 26), and each new year marks the start of a new cycle and a new “personality” or essence for the year ahead, which is signalled by its own sign or glyph like Seed, Monkey, or Storm. The year 2021/22 is the year of the 3 electric seed of the wave of the wind.



The day before the New Year is called the "Day Out of Time“ (El Día Fuera del Tiempo), and is perhaps more important for the Mayans than New Year, in that it is a day to give thanks and to reflect on what has been achieved and what lessons are still to be learned. It is a moment to pause between the end of one cycle and the beginning of a new one, releasing the past, and setting intentions.



In 1990 José Argüelles launched a calendar, inspired by the Mayan Calendar and based on 13 moons (13 moons of 28 days, plus an extra day – July 25th – outside of time = 365 days). It went by the name of Dreamspell, and can be seen as a calendar for the new age. The Dreamspell became very popular across the globe and many of its followers, mostly for lack of knowledge, think of the Dreamspell as the original Mayan Calendar - which, to bear in mind, is not the case. The Dreamspell Calendar also names the energy of the Yellow Electric Seed as the galactic frequency of 2021/2022: 


"This frequency supports us to activate our next level thrival, and our next level service to life. We are invited to root into the reality that we are the Earth; we are the Universe. As we are infinitely interconnected and interdependent with all universal life force, we realise that this Planet is our collective Garden to tend to materially and energetically. Together, we are undergoing a deep initiation of learning how to restore our multi-dimensional health and wholeness.“ — 13 Moon 


For the Ancient Egyptians, July 26 was marked by the annual event called the “Heliacal rising of Sirius”. This event is the beginning of a period when the star Sirius rises in the morning sky right next to the Sun.


Sirius was also known as the Sacred Teacher Star, and when its powerful Light Codes aligned with the Sun they were transmitted to the Earth through the annual Lion’s Gate portal, the historical moment when the constellation of Leo aligns with the Pyramid complex at Giza. The Lion’s Gate portal begins to open on July 26 and reaches its climax on the 8th of August as the 8/8 portal. This is the powerful time of the “Two Suns” in the sky, one Golden White (the Sun of Earth) and one Electric Blue (Sirius). This conjunction of Stars celebrates the long connection between Earth, and its Sun, and the Star System of Sirius.


In Ancient Egypt, the heliacal rising of Sirius also marked the time when the Nile River rose, due to rains in Central Africa, and flooded the plains of Egypt so that crops could be grown. The rising of the waters signified the return of abundance and blessings to the land, and this was also associated with Sirius and its helical rising in the East.



Today, especially the “Day Out of Time“ is celebrated by people of many cultures all over the world who recognise the importance of a natural reckoning of time.


This day is a magical and sacred “womb space” where transformation from one time cycle to another is birthed. It is a time to be joyful and creative as the foundations for the New Year cycle are being laid.


The veils between the worlds are lifted on these days out of time, which allows for a deeper connection with the Spirit world. You may want to step into this portal in whatever way feels right to you and become aware of the importance of the rhythms of nature and the concept of natural time.


Text by EMMA TREHARNE · Picture by renee fisher

What does it take to show all the way up?

To show all of ourselves, our pain, and, our beauty

To cast aside what we’ve been told we should look like, what we should think and want and need

What we should grow into

What we should ask for, and when

What we should feel grateful for


Up. Up, and sideways, and around

Reach for the sun, the moon, the stars

Like the stem of a new plant searching for light, for life


Keep going

Keep growing

Grow your new leaves, grow your new branches


To keep a plant healthy we sometimes pinch off the shoots. We prune.

The energy comes from within, from below, from the Earth, from the cosmos


 How much energy do we channel into keeping all our leaves, our branches, intact, pristine, on display?


Maybe to show all the way up we might choose to prune ourselves occasionally


Choose our shape, ever-evolving

Choose the space we take up

Choose our own growth, our own direction

Be sometimes big and bold

Sometimes fragile and delicate

Always firm. Unbreakable. Our roots holding us steady. 

The trees talk through their root system, sending messages on regeneration from generation to generation


Like the growth rings of a tree, we are layered

The body holds our stories deep within

History, HER-story, OUR story, our ancestry

Holding us

Guiding us

Helping us


The pain and the beauty, the shadows we cast, the branches we try to hide fearing they are not perfect enough

We grow layers and only show what’s acceptable


What if, to show ‘all the way up’ we grow wild and free, and take up space, and dance in the wind, and support each other with a root system so deep that when one of us falls she is held up by the tangled web of love - love that is us, that is them


Her story, ancestry, Our story


Showing up now in this pivotal moment

Roots and branches

Roots and wings


Showing up whole.



Send us your stories, photos, videos, rituals, illustrations, art and poetry at circle@cacaomama.com.

We are looking forward to publishing your thoughtful story and practice in future editions.




We at Cacao Mama witness people opening to LIFE IN CEREMONY. The Cacao Spirit forms a centre around which one can feel this particularly magic moment when everything connects and comes alive. Feelings of compassion arise, a deep connection to Pachamama and a coming home to the Self. We have entered the present moment and feel the invisible harmony that surrounds us. In the 12 editions to come, we open Cacao Mama's apothecary and invite you to be in Ceremony with us. Together with our plant family, we weave rituals, stories, songs and recipes to offer a soothing medicine for you to connect with Pachamama and her powerful allies. Our land is Europe, and we weave the Cacao intelligence along with the European medicine wheel, while we tend to our roots, the land and its wisdom keepers. 



Serap Kara for CACAO MAMA • © 2014 - 2024 • made with stellar earth ❤ in Berlin • privacy policy