EDITION NO. 11 · DECEMBER 2021
IN CEREMONY NO. 11 · WINTER SOLSTICE
01 MEET THE CACAO GARDENER
02 THE HEART OF THE WORLD
03 THE WINTER SOLSTICE
04 TURNING WHEELS
05 MOTHER'S NIGHT
06 THE TWELVE SACRED NIGHTS
07 THE 'TIME OUT OF TIME' Journal
08 INCENSE FOR THE MAGIC NIGHTS
09 CULTURAL CELEBRATIONS
10 CACAO FOR THE MOON TIME
11 INTO DWARF LAND
12 YOU ARE MEDICINE · MARÍA SABINA
13 SEED MAMA
MEET THE CACAO Gardener
Text by SERAP KARA · Picture by Kristiana Pinne · Artwork by Alexis Aronson
In early 2017 I started to share the teachings of the Cacao Spirit through the Cacao School and shared the classroom with beautiful people from all around the world.
In almost every class, we discussed the idea of closing a circle within our offerings while looking at Cacao's history, the global market, and how the once sacred plant Cacao was transformed by the Europeans - first into medicine and then into industrial chocolate. Later, we entered the state of Ceremony and experienced the original heart medicine of the Cacao Spirit and witnessed how we were able to connect with a highly evolved consciousness effortlessly. The veils between the worlds lifted and carried the voice of the forest, calling us.
We envisioned becoming godmothers and godparents to a Cacao tree to connect with its source. What if we could give something meaningful for all that we had received from the Cacao Spirit?
There are those projects that do not flow until you find the right ingredients. I remember a creation myth of the Mayan people: "many ingredients were mixed, but only when Cacao was added, the human was created".
I needed a team and the experience of working together for the vision to come into manifestation. In 2020, I asked students to step into the medicine circle, represent one element, and midwife a vision that allows to come full circle within our offerings.
Within the dreaming process, we opened to be guided on how to value our resources, cultivate the circle way, breathe out instead of pushing through and overall enjoy our humanness while dreaming a bridge to carry intentions and sacred blessings for the nurturing of Pachamama and the Cacao Elder Spirits. Meeting every (other) week, we experienced the blessing of practice, patience, and continuity.
Then we were introduced to the Sierra Divina project and started to build a bridge between Europe and Colombia.
We welcome you into the sacred circle and to a journey into the heart of the sacred forest and into the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Colombia, the place the Kogi Mamos and Teyuna Elders call the 'Heart of the World'.
We envision growing into a global community of Cacao Gardeners who align with the Cacao Elder Spirits to cultivate integrity and wisdom within their sacred offerings. Feel welcome whether you are a guardian of the earth, a facilitator of sacred practices, a healing artist, a ceremonial leader, a keeper of the fire, or a student of life.
Thank you for being the guardian that you are. We are weaving. And we are many.
Learn about the Cacao Gardener Initiative
Plant a Cacao Tree in Colombia and join us in gardening a spirited Cacao forest to seed and cultivate a heart-centred culture.
The HEART OF THE WORLD
Text & ARTWORK by MARLEN MATTHÄUS
Since my first contact with the Cacao Spirit, the power of Pachamama was omnipresent for me. My awareness of the existence of the animated life around me - be it plant, animal or stone - had
opened up. The relationship with nature showed itself to me very strongly in connection with Mama Cacao.
In a Cacao ceremony during my journey to become a Cacao Guardian, I saw in meditation a connection between me and the jungle, the home of Cacao. A golden warm ray of light connected with my heart. Where the ray met my heart space, a lush tropical forest full of plants and animals emerged. I could literally hear, feel and taste the blossoming life. It was a pulsating heart full of love for life itself. One thought that formed then was: I am nature - nature is in me.
After the meditation, I felt a strong impulse to capture my feelings in a picture. In the beginning, I painted the human heart, with all its arteries and veins, the channels of life. In the centre a golden ray of light touched the heart. There, the seed was planted: the Cacao bean. A delicate network of blue veins unfolds from the seed. It supplies the seed with energy, nutrients, and love. A new strong tree grows from the Cacao bean.
This strong tree in turn produces fruit and Cacao beans. The energy of Cacao is passed on to the next generation through each new tree, each new bean. This radiant heart, bursting with vitality,
sends out the warming and maternal energy of Pachamama from every cell.
In the closing ceremony of the Cacao Guardian, Serap told about the newly created Cacao Gardener project. The place where the newly established Cacao forest is planted is called the Heart of the World. Her description touched me deeply in my heart and reminded me of my previously painted picture.
The green heart, the connection to nature, to Pachamama is the foundation of all life. The Cacao Spirit creates a bridge to a forgotten consciousness: we are nature. We are connected to all beings around us.
Cacao is the medicine of the heart. When the heart is open, feels connected, and is cared for, it is strong and alive. It blossoms and passes on the light. For me, the image represents the collective light and the connection to Pachamama in all of us.
Marlen is a landscape architect, nature lover, and Cacao Guardian. In her free time, she is often out and about in the urban nature around Berlin, collecting herbs, watching birds, and painting.
THE WINTER SOLSTICE
Text by Serap Kara · Picture by manuela Bohm For Unsplash
The Winter Solstice on 21.12 heralds the darkest night of the year, the Mother Night, when the sun child is born. It marks the beginning of Christmas and the Twelve Sacred Nights. These nights symbolise the twelve months of the coming year. It is a time of secrets, the veil to the 'other worlds' opens for elementals, nature spirits & devas. We are particularly sensitive to visions. These days are deeply sacred - they can bring calmness, tranquility, and reflection.
Text by SERAP KARA · Picture by patrick hendry
The Winter Solstice has always been one important cosmic event, celebrated by many cultures around the world as the beginning of the new year. This is a celebration of the Sun.
In the Northern hemisphere, we experience the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Our Celtic and Germanic ancestors observed that the days grew shorter until the sunlight reached the lowest point before a reversal took place - after three days of apparent stillness, light began to increase again.
In their worldview, life is born in the darkness of the womb and they imagined the Cosmic Earth Mother Goddess giving birth to the light, the sun-child.
Rebirth was of immense importance, for it guaranteed light in spring and summer and testified to the cyclical movements of nature.
The time around the Winter Solstice marks the beginning of the new year in many cultures - preparations are made, things are cleaned and brought to completion, and people share gratitude and presence with the beings of the Otherworld.
ThE SOLSTICE has been seen as a portal into higher levels of consciousness when humanity spirals into the next cycle of evolution.
In the past, when there was neither heating, electricity nor supermarkets, people lived off the harvest and moved closer together. They celebrated the return of the light extensively, sat around the fire, with stories and rituals, looking back and forth along the lines of history, weaving a bright future. Connected in the spirit of nature the light was sought within.
For the Winter Solstice gave hope as it also marked the beginning of the cold season when people entered icy winters in the Northern Hemisphere. Astrologically, Sagittarius tends the spark of light and with the onset of winter hands it over to Capricorn who teaches endurance and tenacity - qualities that people needed to survive the cold and 'the wild hunt' of winter.
Text by SERAP KARA · Picture by marko blazevic
Born with Anatolian roots (Anatolia can be translated as 'full of mothers'), Christmas was not a family ritual, but a festivity that was brought into my world from the outside. I tried to find the spark, meaning, and magic within this global celebration although most people I know are deeply stressed at this time with the expectations placed on them.
The Twelve Sacred Nights of Christmas were my first introduction to the nature-based calendar that lies beneath the Christmas traditions of my Germanic roots and, looking back, the beginning of my journey into studying the European medicine wheel. I embarked on this journey to heal my German ancestry and root the Cacao Mama Earth School into the Earth.
In the ancient European tradition, the Winter Solstice held the feminine principle and wisdom of creation and rebirth. I fell in love with the vision of 'the Mother Night when the Sun-child is reborn in the dark womb' of the Mother Earth Goddess. People regarded the days that followed the Winter Solstice as sacred.
I started to celebrate the Mother Night and the twelve sacred days that followed the Winter Solstice. In ritual and reflection, I allowed the seen and unseen worlds to touch each other. I reflected on the outside as well as the inside and aligned with the turning of the wheel towards a new cycle of evolution.
During the Twelve Sacred Nights I traveled into a deeper stillness to connect with the womb of the Mother, to plant the light of a new cycle within myself. I found the spark I had been searching for and felt the magic of a worldview in which I am intimately connected with nature.
DEEPER WITHIN THOSE CULTURES, I FOUND A DEEP LOVE FOR NATURE, A LOVE FOR THE PLANTS, SPIRIT, THE NATURAL CYCLES, AND THE MYSTERIES OF NATURE. THOSE which I WANTED TO NURTURE WITHIN MYSELF.
Cacao Mama is guided by ancestral feminine lineages rooted in the heart of Pachamama. I invited Cacao Mama to be part of this exploration of the nature-based practices and into the Mother's Night. Together we felt into the cycles while creating a bridge between the old wisdom of Europe and Central America. I strengthened my local roots while stretching myself far out into the magic of the Cacao tree.
I BELIEVE THAT WE CARRY FORWARD ESSENCES - FROM THE PAST, THROUGH THE PRESENT INTO THE NEXT CYCLE OF EVOLUTION AND CONSCIOUSNESS.
And there, when the veils between the worlds are thin, you'll find an aspect of the Cacao Spirit, beyond all mythology into the liminal space, the space in-between, the void that holds the spark of creation teaching us to become still and open to the wisdom and medicine found in the soul of our own nature.
THE TWELVE SACRED NIGHTS
Text by Serap Kara · Picture by ben mirzaei
There are times in the year when the veils between the worlds are so thin that the dimensions touch each other. Dreams penetrate reality, symbols seem magnified and nature sends messages to illuminate time and space.
Nature becomes alive and invites the human to be part of the creation process, the active weaving, the unfolding.
The Twelve Nights that followed the Winter Solstice are recognised as sacred and celebrated with awareness. These nights are either between the Solstice and the 3rd of January or from Christmas Eve until The Three Kings. Each night symbolises a month of the new year - twelve nights to prepare twelve months.
Traditionally, this time is characterised by listening, awareness, ceremony, and opening the communication to the Otherworld. People open to the signs sent by Mother Nature and align with earth's intuition to peak along the lines of time into the future.
EVERYTHING WORLDLY IS TO STAND STILL, NO WHEELS oN THE OUTSIDE ARE TO TURN, AS THE WHEELS OF FATE TURN IN THIS TIME BEYOND TIME. AFTER TWELVE DAYS AND NIGHTS THE TRANSITION WILL BE COMPLETE AND HEARTS FILLED WITH HOPE FOR THE RETURNING OF LIGHT.
JOURNALING DURING THE 'TIME OUT OF TIME'
Text by Lena Brandt · Pictures by luke hodde & the unsplash community
The Twelve Sacred Nights is an old European custom that has its origins in timekeeping according to a lunar year. A lunar year of twelve lunar months comprises only 354 days. The solar year, on the other hand, has 365 days. The twelve missing nights/days were referred to as "dead days", as the "time outside of time".
During the Twelve Sacred Nights, the veils between this world and the Otherworld are lifted. Since time immemorial, oracles are consulted, fairy tales and stories of myth are being told, incenses are burned, people pray and meditate to go deep within into states of contemplation.
In addition to cultivating old customs and rituals, we can use this time to return to the essence - to go within, to re-align and to come back home to ourselves. A time-out from everyday life. To do this, however, we don't even have to step out completely, but rather step in: into the desires of our hearts, the longing of our souls and into our very own strength.
Which people were particularly important to me?
What was particularly beautiful?
To whom am I grateful and for what?
What was not so pleasant?
Where are any conflicts or disappointments?
What have I learned?
Where have I grown?
What situation from this month do I still want to resolve?
Preview / Outlook
What did I dream last night?
Who or what did I meet today?
Who or what was I thinking about?
Who or what did I encounter in meditation?
How does this day feel?
What was the mood like?
What happened to me today?
How was the weather?
Each of the twelve nights and the following day represent a month in the past and in the upcoming year. I ask myself questions on each of the twelve days. I find it fascinating (and sometimes even magical) to have a look at my notes in the course of the new year and discover to what extent I manifested my reality.
incense FOR the MAGIC nights
Text by Susanne Strzoda · Pictures By Ricky turner & kirill pershin
The burning of herbs and resins has traditionally been an essential part of the rituals of the Twelve Sacred Nights. The main focus lies on the themes of cleansing, letting go and reorientation. We can use the power of incense in this time of transition to cleanse ourselves on all levels, to let go of the past and to receive visions.
When plants and resins turn to smoke on the charcoal or over the flame, we transform the element of earth (material) into the element of air (spiritual). We may utilise this to send our prayers to the heavens. The smoke carries out our hopes, visions, and wishes.
The burning and smudging of plant material are among the most intense and shortest ways we can initiate contact with a plant. The essence of the plant communicates with us through the smoke, so to speak. We can connect with the spirit, the plant's essence, on a deeper, more intuitive level.
For the rituals, the Twelve Sacred Nights can be divided into three phases: The purification (around the first three nights), the harmonisation (the following five nights), and the blessing/energising (the last four nights).
During the first three Sacred Nights, we are still at an energetically low point. A wonderful moment to cleanse myself internally and externally, to become empty, and let go of the old year. Every room stores vibrations and thus information. Just as I cleanse my body regularly, it is also important to energetically cleanse the rooms which I inhabit, so that the old may leave and the new can take root.
The following herbs are particularly suitable for energetic, subtle cleansing:
- White Sage
- Spruce/Pine resin
- Mint, Camphor
- Myrrh, or Thyme
Beginning on the 4th Sacred Night, the focus shifts to harmonising the now cleansed energy field and infusing it with new impulses.
Suitable herbs for this purpose are those which create a harmonious atmosphere, provide inner peace, or have balancing, embracing, and protective qualities, such as
- Sweet Grass
- Cacao Shell
Blessing & Energising
Now it is time for a new beginning. From 9th night on (around 1st of January), I consciously invite positive energies, like joy, aliveness, and other qualities that are important to me, into the new year by burning specific incense. I activate my creative power, ask for protection and blessings for the coming months during the ritual and open myself for inspirations and visions.
For this, I turn to herbal substances with light-bringing, protective, strengthening qualities that awaken our creativity and potential:
Enhancing the Ritual
Sometimes I enhance the ritual by expressing my wishes during the act of burning. I connect with my heart and try to feel what I want to let go of from the old year, or invite into my life in the upcoming year, and send my wishes into the universe together with the smoke.
ABout susanne STRZODA
Susanne feels deeply connected to nature and the plant beings. It is through this connection that she recognized who she really is and opened her heart. Now she gives courses to get in contact with nature in a deeply spiritual way and supports people in connecting with the power within themselves.
Text by Lena Brandt · Pictures By Kiki Siepel, Joanna Kosinski, Annie Spratt & Aditya Vyas
At the Winter Solstice on 21 December we reach the depth of that darkness with the longest night of the year. Darkness has reached its peak. With the end of the longest night, the dark is defeated with the return of the Sun, the return of light, hope, and promise. The Goddess gives birth to the Sun/Sun God. The Sun begins to wax and the days grow longer.
Christmas is the Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. It is said that during the time of Christianisation, the traditional festival of Yule was interpreted by the Christian missionaries and as such, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in December was possibly directly inspired by pagan calendars. Many traditions such as the Christmas tree have their origin in the old Germanic culture. Christmas Eve falls traditionally on the 24 December.
The Yule Tide (the period of Yule) usually begins with Modranecht, or 'Mother’s Night', the night before the Winter Solstice. It is an Anglo-Saxon celebration in honour of the Mothers who give birth to the Midwinter sun. On this first night of Yule the early Germanic and Scandinavian tribes paid tribute to the ancestral mothers and female spirits who protected and watched over the family, helped with childbirth and healed illnesses. It was also a night for spirit contact and celebration with one's ancestors in much the same way that the Celts did at Samhain.
The Twelve Sacred Nights
The Twelve Sacred Nights begin either on the day of the Winter Solstice, i.e. on 21 December, or on the night of 24 December and end on the night of 5 January to 6 January. These Sacred Nights were seen as a 'time outside of time' when the veils between this world and the Otherworld were lifted. A time for rituals, oracles, inward focus, and stillness. For the Germanic and Celtic peoples in pre-Christian times, the Winter Solstice and the following Twelve Sacred Nights were considered a magical turning point and a new beginning.
Yule is the name of a 12-day festival, celebrated by Germanic peoples, particularly in Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe such as Germany, around the Winter Solstice in December and January. It marked the end of the solar year and was celebrated with many festivities on the darkest night of winter. In Scandinavia in particular, many of the medieval customs have been preserved and are practised at Christmas, which is still called 'Jul' there today.
"Christmastime. Noël. Nativity. Yuletide. Even the many different words we use to describe the Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ reflects how this festival was born of a wide array of cultures. For the Vikings, Germanic tribes, and other peoples of pre-Christian Europe, this celebration was actually meant to honor the winter solstice.“ — Morgan Dunn
Cacao ritual for THE moon time
Text & PICTURE BY DÖRTE STANEK
The time of menstruation is a sacred moment in a cycle that is interwoven with many other cycles. It is a threshold between a cycle that is ending and a new beginning cycle. Moon time asks us to slow down, to turn inwards, to let go, and to descent into the dark and mysterious ways of the feminine. It is a descent into the womb - the personal but also the collective womb. This time of the menstrual cycle, a natural, altered state of consciousness can occur with access to insights, ideas, and visions. This altered state requires us to surrender to all that is while letting go of what no longer serves. It can be a time of deep connection with the divine and life itself.
Cacao can serve as a beautiful ritual to hold space for oneself, to become present, and to soften the body during moon time. During this ritual, it can be helpful to review the cycle that has just ended and to give an intention to the cycle that is about to start. Journaling might be supportive during the ritual. It is always curious to see how much shapeshifting can happen in one single cycle.
- Prepare a space that helps you to connect with your body
- Prepare the cacao with cinnamon, chili, cardamon, and curcuma
- Gift the cacao with an intention and/or your gratitude
- Become really quiet and listen to your body
- Allow your mind to drift off, it may occur naturally during this time since the energy is mostly in the womb
- If you can, lose track of time
- Become curious about what arises in you and then start journaling about the cycle you just completed
ABOUT DÖRTE STANEK
Dörte supports women wholeheartedly in discovering their full potential and creating their own life in an embodied, meaningful, and fulfilled way. The focus of her work is the body as a home and place for pleasure and transformation. Dörte transmits a deep connection with the cyclical way of life, opening up spaces to shed conditioning and trauma and to experience inner freedom. Her work is particularly driven by the desire to awaken the feminine path on a collective level and thereby heal the relationship with the Earth. She is the author of the Weaving Cycles Journal - a moon calendar, cycle tracker, and diary all in one. To learn more visit https://weavingcycles.com/
Dörte and Serap had a powerful conversation about Cacao and weaving cycles. Watch the free talk in German language on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/647374917
Weaving Cycles Journal 2022 in English https://weavingcycles.com/en/weaving-cycles-2022/
Use code „CacaoMama“ and get a 5% discount
INTO Dwarf Land
Text by SERAP KARA · PictureS by florian van duyn, Simi Ninati, Albin Schmalfuß via Wikimedia Commons
While studying my beloved Cacao tree along the European medicine wheel, a new teacher knocked on my door, one whom I respect dearly. Amanita Muscaria or Fly Agaric is a magic fungus that has a long history.
The white-dotted red mushroom has been revered from Siberia to Japan, to Northern Europe to North and Central America, sacred from the highlands of Guatemala to India's origin of Soma. In Germanic and Norse mythology, the god Wotan, who embodied insight and ecstasy, gave Amanita as a blessing to humans during The Wild Hunt. Amanita is used ceremonially around the Winter Solstice to be closer to the sun.
Amanita was burnt as an incense, taken medicinally, internally, ritually, and as an entheogen enabling people to fly and have out-of-body experiences. They were able to expand their consciousness into the realm of the gods, ancestors, and spirits of the Otherworld. It is said that Father Christmas in his white and red robe is born from people's use of Amanita.
As a being of the forest, Amanita is home to dwarfs who dwell inside and under Amanita's cap. Others say that when you meet the Spirit it may look like a dwarf. I can relate to these visions, as connecting with this mushroom feels like entering ancient and secret dwarf territory.
In the course of time, institutions did not like seeing their people practicing the natural ways or experiencing ecstasy, and Amanita was declared highly toxic and banned. Yet, some traditions and relationships are so strong, the bond and meaning so sacred that they cannot be erased from people's memory or love. Until today, Amanita is used as a good luck charm all around the world.
Amanita is indigenous to the country where I currently live, but views on this medicine could not be more conflicting. Therefore it seems more important to listen to why the teacher is calling me and what he wants to share. For the harvest, I prepared offerings and allowed the teacher to find me.
Beyond all that has been said about this plant by others, I wish to create my relationship, therefore I simply sit with the energy of the teacher. Sometimes I smell the dried fruits or, burn a little stem on a stove and write with the intention of learning from the plant spirit directly. I experience that Spirit speaks in many different ways, for example in the form of a sacred tree that appears in my dreams.
You are the Medicine · María Sabina
Cure yourself with the light of the sun and the rays of the moon.
With the sound of the river and the waterfall.
With the swaying of the sea and the fluttering of birds.
Heal yourself with mint, with neem and eucalyptus.
Sweeten yourself with lavender, rosemary, and chamomile.
Hug yourself with the cocoa bean and a touch of cinnamon.
Put love in tea instead of sugar, and take it looking at the stars.
Heal yourself with the kisses that the wind gives you and the hugs of the rain.
Get strong with bare feet on the ground and with everything that is born from it.
Get smarter every day by listening to your intuition, looking at the world with the eye of your forehead.
Jump, dance, sing, so that you live happier.
Heal yourself, with beautiful love, and always remember ... you are the medicine.
Credit picture/translation: unknown
María Sabina Magdalena García (1894 – 1985) was a curandera (healer) who lived in southern Mexico. Her healing sacred mushroom ceremonies were based on the use of psilocybin mushrooms who spoke and sung through her, guiding her on how to heal people from sickness. She was a wise woman, poet, and medicine to thousands of people. This is her advice.
SEED MAMA BY TAMARA PHILLIPS
We wish you a tender Mother's Night, a Winter Solstice filled with magic, loving Christmas holidays, and deep rest in the days to follow. We give thanks for a year of sharing, learning, and growing together. We love being in Ceremony with you. May we together cycle into the next evolution of consciousness. With love & gratitude ♥︎ Serap & The Cacao Mama team
IN EDITION NO. 12 · JANUARY 2022 · REST, Reset & Dream
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.