EDITION NO. 7 · AuGUST 2021
IN CEREMONY NO. 07 · TABLE OF CONTENTS
01 THE CELEBRATION OF LUGHNASADH
02 THE BLUES OF CUTTING THROUGH
03 music as sacred prayer
04 Cacaosita MEDICINE SONG
05 THE honorable harvest
06 Cacao and Maize
07 Poem: Harvest Moon
08 OFFERINGs in sacred time
09 EARTH & MORNING ALTARS
10 The eternal cacao circle
THE CELEBRATION OF LUGHNASADh
Text by Lena Brandt · Picture by Stephen Radford
Around the beginning of August, in the Northern Hemisphere, we celebrate the pagan Wheel of the Year festival Lughnasadh (whereas in the Southern Hemisphere, people celebrate the festival of Imbolc). Lughnasadh can be translated with “commemoration of Lugh“ and has the poetic meaning “wedding of light” in German. Another name used for Lughnasadh is “Lammas”, from the Anglo-Saxon or Old-English “hlaef-mass” (loaf mass, mass where the first loaf of bread is consecrated).
Lughnasadh takes place on August 1, a date commonly agreed upon. Originally, as a lunar festival, the day of celebration has no fixed date but moves according to the 8th full moon after Yule, when the Sun is in 15 degree Leo.
In German tradition, the celebration is also called the 'reaper's festival' ('Schnitterinnenfest'), indicating the time when the grain must be cut. Traditionally, the reapers take their sickles and cut healing plants and herbs. These healing herbs are blessed with divine support and are then added to the medicine cabinet where they are supposed to protect the family until the next year.
Lughnasadh is the festival of Lugh, the great Celtic sun king and god of light, and a celebration of the first grain harvest - a time for gathering and giving thanks for the abundance all around us. The fields are full and fertile. Crops are abundant, apples are plump in the trees, gardens are overflowing with summer bounty, and the late summer harvest is ripe for picking. In nearly every ancient culture, this was - and, around the world, still is to this day - a time of celebration of the agricultural significance of the season.
The power of abundant growth, the nourishing harvest, and Mother Earth with all her bountiful gifts were honoured. Prayers were made for the protection of the harvest, and for a blessed harvest season that now began.
Lughnasadh is a time for reaping what we have sown throughout the past few months. We are invited to celebrate what has become ripe and ready, what is at the pinnacle of its potency, and to call in abundance to sustain us into the future. Cause while the natural world is thriving all around us, there is already this underlying knowledge that the bounty and energy of the sun is now beginning to wane. The seasons are slowly shifting. Active growth is slowing down and the darker days of winter and reflection are beckoning. We may consciously take in the warming rays of the sun and store their power for the times coming.
The celebration of Lughnasadh and the beginning of harvesting season is once more a wonderful occasion to get back in tune with the rhythm of Mother Nature and our own inherent rhythm. You may ask yourself: What kind of magic can be activated when we re-establish a living connection with the earth's cycles? What can Cacao teach us about the earth's natural rhythm? And how can we give thanks for the abundance we are given by Mother Nature?
You are invited to reflect on when and where you experience this abundance in your life and how you celebrate and share that abundance with others. Make offerings to your beloveds, your community, to Cacao, and your spiritual allies. May you remember to thank the Earth for her bounty and her gifts.
THE BLUES OF CUTTING THROUGH
Text by SERAP Kara · Picture by Jerzy Gorecki
August holds deep ripening. In the astrological sign of Leo with the Sun as its planetary ruler, we experience maximum solar power and heat. The energy of Leo is warm, welcoming, and confident and invites us to kindly express authority. And then, there's a blues in the air.
In mythology, the waning moon becomes the sickle to cut and harvest the plants. The dreams and visions that have been planted and nurtured by us now bloom in highest radiance. The dark-red goddesses of this time confront us with death, letting go, and ending. We need to cut through to harvest the glorious abundance and healing power at its peak. If we hesitate, the plant can wither and become powerless.
The goddesses call each of us to become present and reign within our empires. The intense summer and fire energy can support us to develop courage and strength to draw boundaries and make bold and right decisions. August holds a deep transformation for us to usher in with love, dignity, and gratitude while we cut through and harvest for the times ahead, although this might come with a feeling of sadness. August marks the beginning of the harvest season and we are invited to step into self-determination and harvest freedom and authority.
In mythology and legend, the Cacao Spirit has been associated with the cycles of life, death, and rebirth. I invite you to make yourself a nice cup of cacao and sit with the following questions: What is ripe in my life? What is there to be decided? What cords need to be cut and boundaries to be set? What comes to an end?
music as sacred prayer · SINGING FOR CACAO
PRACTICE by SERAP KARA · Picture by stefano girardelli · ILLUSTRATION BY KATIE NESS
Singing is a beautiful and very powerful way to connect directly and effectively with the essence of a plant. I practice this exercise in live classes when working with Cacao, however, you can choose to connect with any other plant. The idea is to step aside and offer your voice so the plant can express itself through your body and vocals. Here's how it works:
- Close your eyes, come into your center and feel into your relationship with the Cacao Mother. Feel free to take some time to do this.
- If you can identify a feeling, then offer it a sound or a vowel.
- Let the sound travel freely through you, become louder or softer, become another vowel, develop into a melody, turn into archaic sounds, a whistling or humming. Allow the sound to travel beyond the harmonious scale.
- Step aside and allow the sounds to express themselves freely through you. Become a witness - listen, observe, and enjoy.
- At the end of this exercise, it is nice to pause for a moment and feel the vibrations and listen to the silence.
- Give thanks and repeat often.
CACAOSITA MEDICINE SONG
SONG, STORY & Altar BY Elyse Watson
There are times in life when certain experiences alter and shape the rest of our life. Exploring my voice and learning of medicine songs, chanting, mantra, and healing music were those
influential life changing moments. I realised that a whole other world exists outside of the mainstream understanding of what it means to sing and ‘be a singer’. A world where songs are revered
as a prayer and offered to the earth as a way to say thank you for life. Songs can heal, weave miracles and magic, and through using our voice we expand and can clear energetic stagnation in our
body and mind. The vibration of certain words can lift our spirit and change how we feel. There really is no end to how beneficial it is to use our voice and sing - no matter how good or bad we
feel we sound.
The song I’ve shared here is one that came to me during my first training to work with Cacao in ceremony. My devotion to sing to Cacao after I’ve opened a ceremony with prayer is one that i will continue to do throughout my life. I offer song as an act of love and deep reverence and respect to all that Pachamama gives. I sing to my ancestors and those that have kept the wisdom and knowledge of Cacao alive, to the caretakers of the earth and those that harvest Cacao, to my teachers and guides, all who join me in ceremony, and to the creator of all life - that unknowable mystery to which nothing would exist without.
May you be inspired to sing and co-create medicine through your voice with Cacao, or any plant for that matter. As your voice is needed and vitally important in the unfolding of life's magnificently divine story.
ABOUT ELYSE WATSON
Elyse is an artist, healer and ceremony facilitator based in the north east of England. You can find her on instagram at: www.instagram.com/bloom_space_/ bloom_space_
THE Honorable harvest
Text by Lena Brandt · Pictures by Oliver pacas and Clay Banks
As we enter the harvest season, I am finding myself thinking a lot about the ways in which most of us in our secular western society approach harvesting. How does the worldview we hold dictate
the approach we employ when harvesting? How do we relate to the earth’s resources? Is the relationship balanced, an equal give and take?
We are showered every day with the gifts of Mother Earth: air to breathe, fresh water, the companionship of animals and plants, and food. We as humans are destined by biology to be utterly dependent upon the lives of others, the more-than-human persons with whom we share the planet. A fact many of us here in the western world are oftentimes not aware and acknowledging of, but instead feel more and more disconnected from the natural world that nourishes and sustains us.
Nature-based communities all around the globe, still practising ancient ways of relating to the community of life on this planet, may be an inspiration on how to live in reciprocity with the world we are all part of. Here, the living world is a kin, not a resource. They recognise the personhood of each and every living being.
Countries such as New Zealand, India, and Ecuador have governments that are in favour of protecting rivers, lakes, and forests, through granting them personhood. This, and many other bigger and smaller acts, allow our relationship with the natural world to become more symbiotic and even regenerative. To turn it into a reciprocal relationship.
It is the type of relationship that the Haudenosaunee and many other first nations communities have practiced for countless generations. But how does this relationship manifest when it comes to harvesting?
The 'Honorable Harvest' is a term used and described by Robin Wall-Kimmerer in her book 'Braiding Sweetgrass'. It is a practice both ancient and urgent, and applies to every exchange between people and the Earth. A sacred manifestation, a covenant of reciprocity. As outlined in her book, “the guidelines for the Honourable Harvest are not written down, or even consistently spoken of as a whole – they are reinforced in small acts of daily life but if you were to list them, they might look something like this:
- Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so you may take care of them.
- Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life.
- Ask permission of the ones whose lives you seek before taking. Abide by the answer.
- Never take the first. Never take the last.
- Take only what you need. Take only that which is given to you.
- Never take more than half. Leave some for others.
- Harvest in a way that minimises harm.
- Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken.
- Share it, as the Earth has shared with you.
- Give thanks for what you have been given.
- Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
- Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the Earth will last forever."
ROBIN WALL KIMMERER
“How can we reciprocate the gifts of the Earth? In gratitude, in ceremony, through acts of practical reverence and land stewardship, in fierce defense of the places we love, in art, in science, in song, in gardens, in children, in ballots, in stories of renewal, in creative resistance, in how we spend our money and our precious lives, by refusing to be complicit with the forces of ecological destruction. Whatever our gift, we are called to give it and dance for the renewal of the world.“ — Robin Wall Kimmerer
Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants and Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses. She lives in Syracuse, New York, where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. Visit: www.robinwallkimmerer.com
The Sacred relationship of cacao and maize
Text BY Lena Brandt · Picture by Rodrigo flores
When we turn to the lands of ceremonial Cacao and its peoples, like the Mayans, we can as well find traditions similar to the Honourable Harvest. A traditional, sacred ritual connected to ceremonial Cacao is "the careful harvesting, roasting, peeling, and grounding of Cacao by hand on a metate - just as their ancestors did. Each step follows a cosmology, involving all the elements, and is a prayer, a thanksgiving to the forces of life." – Serap Kara, The Art of Cacao
Up to this day, indigenous peoples around various cultures celebrate the beginning of harvest season with sacred ceremonies and rituals handed down for centuries. So do the Mayans. Especially when it comes to the harvest of corn, cacao is an integral part of the ceremonies as it embodies birth and rebirth and has a long-standing relationship with maize.
In certain regions of Mexico, the combination of cacao and maize was and still is a central culinary mixture for sacred purposes. Tejate, for example, is a blend of cacao, maize, and cacao
flowers, and was once a drink that honoured the beginning of the corn harvest for the indigenous peoples of Mexico. Atole, created with a base of cacao, maize, and numerous other flavours
including vanilla and peppers, was prepared for ceremonial gatherings like the birth of a child.
The roots of this centuries-old link between maize and cacao can be traced back to Mayan mythology, where they repeatedly appear together. In the Popol Vuh, the creation story of the Maya, the god K’awaiil strikes open a mountain using lightning. Inside the split mountain, maize and cacao are uncovered in a glorious discovery. Here we also find the legend of the Hero Twins "who are compared with terrestrial maize, while their simultaneous death and rebirth in the underworld strongly suggests an association with cacao“. (Serap Kara)
We may find references to the relationship between cacao and maize in the mythology of the Mayan gods. It is said that Itzamna, a healing god with the power to resurrect the dead, taught the Mayans how to properly cultivate both maize and cacao, which can be interpreted as a sign that the two are of paramount importance. IxCacao, the Mayan goddess of chocolate, was also an ancient fertility goddess overlooking the fields of corn and ensuring the people were fed.
Even among Mayan art, we find examples of this profound connection. Like the image of the Maize God pictured as a cacao tree, pods sprouting from his head.
Valentine Tibere writes in the publication Artes de México: Chocolate: Cultivation and Culture in pre-Hispanic Mexico: “Corn, a solar plant, embodies light, resurrection on earth and the creation of humanity on Xmucane’s grinding stone. Corn — or Santo Gracia as the ancients called it — is thus related to public ceremonies and the general recognition of ’the people of corn’: ancient and contemporary Mexicans.
Cacao, growing in the gloom, secretly represents rebirth after death, gestation and germination in the primordial sea, the breath of life, the word entombed. Corn is earthly, it is the substance
of human flesh and its sustenance, but its double, cacao, contains the secret embryo of birth or rebirth. Chocolate is the ferryman that helps us cross over from death to life, that regenerates
our forces, that reawakens the slumbering spirit, that makes women pregnant, that revives the dead.“
So it can be said that in the combination of cacao and maize, a deep connection between life and death is established. The precious cacao elevates the essential maize, the otherworldly is combined with the earthly.
Harvest Moon - The Mockingbird Sings in the Night
A poem by mary oliver · Picture By Ly Le Minh
No sky could hold
so much light -
and here comes the brimming,
the flooding and streaming
out of the clouds
and into the leaves,
glazing the creeks,
the smallest ditches!
And so many stars!
The sky seems stretched
like an old black cloth;
behind it, all
the celestial fire
we ever dreamed of!
And the moon steps lower,
her luminous masks, brushing
everything as she passes
with her slow hands
and soft lips -
clusters of dark grapes,
apples swinging like lost planets,
melons cool and heavy as bodies -
and the mockingbird wakes
in his hidden castle;
out of the silver tangle
of thorns and leaves
he flutters and tumbles,
ribbons of music
over forest and river,
copse and cloud -
all heaven and all earth -
wherever the white moon
fancies her small wild prince -
field after field after field.
OFFERINGS IN SACRED TIME
TEXT BY LENA BRANDT · PICTURE BY SHELLEY PAULS
Offerings made outside in nature are a wonderful way to re-connect with Mother Nature and share gratitude, appreciation, and love.
To make an offering, pick a place outside that feels appealing to you. This can be a place in a rural or wild location, but also in an urban environment. Consciously connect with Mother Earth and bring your gifts to her - offer Cacao beans, pieces of chocolate, flowers (from your last ceremony or altar).
Maybe you also feel called to create a nature mandala out of local objects you find around the place - leaves, feathers, flowers, stones, berries, twigs, and more. Take your time to look around, let nature inspire you, and then let your creativity unfold to create a pretty pattern that you dedicate, like a heartfelt gift, to Mother Earth or someone/something you care about, or to mark a special occasion. I am quite sure you will be in awe of all the treasures to be found around you and the beautiful patterns that can be created out of these objects. Ephemeral creations, alive and breathing, that honour this very moment in time and space.
Don’t worry, there is no right or wrongdoing, no need for a plan. Let yourself be guided, be sensitive to the moment, and witness the wonder of this intimate relationship with the natural world you are stepping into.
MORNING ALTARS · IMPERMANENT EARTH ART
Pictures BY Morning Altars
Day Schildkret is a California-based artist and internationally known for his project 'Morning Altars'. For his impermanent earth art creations, he collaborates with the magic of Mother Nature, aiming to renew our relationship to the living world, and highlighting the importance of the generative creative process over its result. Visit: www.morningaltars.com
"The practice of building my art is a practice of obeying the place and time I am in. Every object I use is discovered in or around the place I build it. Every altar I create is informed and governed by forces larger than me: the sun, the wind, the rain, the traveling creatures, the season, the unexpected and unpredictable, etc. It is an honest dialogue between the human and non-human world and an ever-changing conversation with moving pieces.“ — Day Schildkret
PICTURES by Earth Altars
Laura Loescher is a US-based artist, co-creating Earth Altars with Nature. What started as a practice for her own healing and resilience turned into something that soothes and inspires others. Through her creations, Laura shows us the impermanent beauty, mystery, bounty, and generosity of Mother Earth. Visit: www.earthaltars.com
"As things fall apart more and more, this is a useful metaphor - we can pick up the broken pieces to create some new beauty and order in the midst of chaos. Beauty is medicine." — Laura Loescher
THE ETERNAL CACAO CIRCLE
MEDITATION BY SERAP KARA · PICTURE BY maria derevianko
I would like to invite you to a universal cacao ceremony, a circle that exists beyond time and space. Imagine this circle in your inner landscape and walk towards it. With a final step, you enter and take your place.
Notice how you share the circle with other souls. They are souls who live and work in this world and souls who guard the currents of time. They are guardians, healers, practitioners, others invest their life force in social, ecological, and political areas. They sing, pray, and drum and bring harmony, awareness, and joy. The preciousness and protection of life are the central elements, depicted in a luminous geometry in the center. Feel how your presence is an essential part in this circle.
Gradually more souls join this circle, which grows larger and more powerful with each member. Each soul now opens its gentle heart and begins to send light into the center. Your heart also sends a powerful, coloured, transcendental light. The colours begin to dance, to flow into each other, and to fill the hearts with rainbow coloured light.
Feel the power of the circle holding you and gently breathe in the light. Nourish yourself. When your cup is filled, give it to the earth, let it rise into the cosmos and from there, rain down on all the cacao plants.
Give thanks and step through your heart back into this moment.
EDITION NO. 8 · SEPTEMBER 2021
In CEREMONY · CREATIVE DESIGN SERAP KARA · CONTENT LENA BRANDT & SERAP KARA ©CACAO MAMA · MAIL
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.