Inside A Cacao Ceremony Facilitator Training
To be honest, I’ve put off writing this post because it seems ‘too big’ to put in to words.
I’ve got coffee, cacao and medicinal mushrooms running through my veins to welcome fierce focus, inspired language and an open heart, while an ecstatic dance set is streaming from Soundcloud (it’s hashtagged ‘Medicine House’ which I think is so dope — imagine if this kind of music played in clubs? I wanna live in that world!).
I avoided this because I don’t know how to effectively communicate the magical magnitude of what occurred at this training. Much like my attempt at cramming 10 weeks living in a hare krishna community when undertaking my yoga training in to a blog post, I feel this documentation will scratch the surface of your soul’s own yearning to journey deeper with the medicine of it’s choosing.
I have to begin at the day I wasn’t let on my flight to Canada, as proof that there really is divine orchestration happening all the time FOR our benefit (not to just inconvenience our desire to control all aspects of our lives). Since this day, I’ve really embodied trust in a new way. Why? Read on…
A $14 visa waiver that was still pending was the reason I couldn’t check in to the flight that would carry me from Auckland to Vancouver (with a quick layover in LA), where I would start my new chapter in a city that feels home. I was so ready to unpack. I’ve had about 4 of these via waivers in the past, always booking them en route to the airport as they get approved immediately (essentially, it’s just a document that allows me as an Aussie to travel through or to the United States). On this fateful day, I opened the homeland security website to get mine and a bright red banner exclaimed that the rules have changed and you now need to apply for your visa waiver 72 hours ahead of checking in… I was already sitting on the terminal floor.
An hour of crying in the airport led me to call my dear friend who is an earth angel and just a couple hours later, we were together again at the very space we had held our retreat together 2 weeks prior. I had 5 days in an Air BNB to get quiet and tune in to what was being asked of me, what guidance I could access and what the fuck I was going to do next. The following evening, as we were laying in bed together devouring some Loving Earth chocolate, and I opened my inbox to an email that shook every cell: Cacao Ceremony Facilitator Training in Ubud, Bali. The email was sent almost exactly at the same time as my US visa waiver came through — 6 hours after I was meant to board my flight.
The creator of this training, Jemma of Anchoring the Light, had guided me through a soul-awakening, clarity-giving, deep-remembrance journey in December and I had asked her then (and months before) if there was any possibility of learning how to work with the plant medicine of cacao in a deeper way, with her guidance… I was even contemplating going to Peru to learn more, that’s how much I’m committed to Cacao! So when this email came through, it was a full bodied FUCK YES.
Immediately it made sense why I was still within the Southern Hemisphere… because in a months time, I would be sitting in sacred space with Jemma and the other souls led to this experience on the Island of the Gods.
So, that’s exactly what happened. I signed up, asked the Universe for the money to invest in it, and for a place to rest in the mean time and ‘make home’. 3 days later, I was traveling to Mount Maunganui, my favourite place on the North Island of New Zealand to move in to a room that was made for me (just check out the colour palette) across from the ocean, living with the couple who supported our retreat for a hundred bucks a week.
Try and tell me magic doesn’t exist.
5 DAYS OF DEEP TRAVEL INWARDS + an introduction to Andean Shamanism
Day 1-3 I had this odd experience of ‘nothingness’. Since arriving in Bali, there was so much less mind and more presence. Juicy, expansive, feminine flow. It seemed I really slid in to letting Mama Bali hold me in a new way (my previous 4 visits felt a loooot different), I was in surrender. I knew I was there for a reason I wouldn’t know yet (and still don’t) so I just let it unravel. I didn’t force my experience to be anything other than what it was — and found myself a little envious at times at my co-trainees who were having spontaneous emotional clarity, moments of true homecoming in front of my very eyes. And all I could feel was… nothing, really.
It wasn’t flavourless and bland like depression, or ecstatic and illuminating like the pure presence I had felt before. It was just… here and now.
That was my default mode for those days ASIDE from a few gnarly happenings.
Traditional Balinese Purification Ceremony
Coming to the end of day one, we found ourselves in a very open and sensitive energetic state, as we’d just taken our first journey with Cacao in ceremony, led by Jemma. This wasn’t the trendy cafe style hot chocolate — it was dense, thick, cool in temperature and fucking potent. Jem had programmed this medicine with some powerful intent to set the space for our evening purification ceremony at a temple that tourists don’t go to that would be held by a Balinese priest.
The group all piled in to minivans to begin the hour-long journey through villages to arrive at the temple. The 5 of us in our car felt a dramatic energy shift about 10 minutes in, where we fell silent from our upbeat conversation and all became nauseous. If you’ve ever been in a car in South East Asia, you know the intensity of the windy roads, but this felt… different. For the remainder of the ride, each of us were deep in processing this uncomfy feeling in our own way… one being to stop and vomit on the side of the road, whereas I was asking each bit of hoocha (heavy energy) to fuck right off through my intent to transmute the density in to light through my breath. Cue lots of heavy, noisy breathing in our car…
The ceremony itself was almost eerie. Light shone through the trees in this jungly spring temple, illuminating scary faces of statues and casting shadows on the water we would be getting in. It felt like a timeline collapsed and I’d done this before. After the priest finished his Hindu prayer, splashing flower water on each of us and handing out incense, we wrapped in gold or white silks sarongs and prepared for a silent ceremonial purification.
One by one, we entered the water, with the incense at our heart space, patiently waiting for our turn to immerse under gushing headwaters that sprung from the earth. It was like falling in to another dimension, honestly. You were to be completely engulfed by this raging spring while your hands kept you upright on a rock, creating a tiny container of space to breathe. Now, one of my most intense fears is drowning, so I wasn’t stoked on this part. Being under that spring felt like I was in a car with the windows rolled up, sinking in a body of water. I was in terror, doing my best to face the fear and let it be washed away, but I couldn’t stay long enough to reach peace. I was shaking with fear and moved out of the spring to the next 5 smaller springs to continue on.
Throughout the process, despite me feeling warm in the water, my jaw was uncontrollably shaking (for those of you familiar with TRE or trauma release, I knew my body was simple allowing stuck energy to move). Before I got out of the waters, I floated off to the side and let myself be buoyant for a bit, until I got the urge to turn around and place my feet back on the ground, to which I met eyes immediately with: a fucking EEL. Slinking in the shadows between two rocks, this eel just stared back and I leapt out of the water, rubbing my eyes. Was that real? I peered back over and in my mind asked the eel to resurface if he were really there. Within a second, there it was, upright and facing me. Oh. My. God. I still get heebiejeebies thinking about how slippery that encounter was (another fear of mine is slugs. I don’t know why, but they give me full body grossness… an eel is like a slug on steroids to me. Awwwrrrgghhh).
The next day, I looked up the spiritual meaning of the eel and what this encounter could be revealing to me. Here’s the excerpt from the Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Tarot:
That all made complete sense to me, and I am deeply grateful for how the animal kingdom communicates with us. Even the complete atheists to there being any kind of greater force I know have connections with animals in this way, like the butterfly being a symbol that their relative who has passed is coming to visit.
CONNECTING TO MY ALLIES
There was a huge emphasis on making connection with our ‘allies’ — both in the natural world and the cosmic realms. Calling upon these allies allows a kind of unshakeable strength to facilitate sacred space with extra guidance and support, creating safety around the experience, accessing clarity and speaking the ‘right’ words and the ‘right’ time, and facilitating with an open heart without being depleted (calling all empaths).
I loved this process, as it continued over days. Initially, during a meditative journey in which we welcomed our animal allies to show themselves, none came for me. Once again, I was almost jealous that most of the others in the training had ‘met’ their allies, and I had no information. Later that night, I prayed before sleep and asked the animals to reveal themselves one by one in their own time. Patience, is one of my big life lessons, so I was being tested…
In my dreams, I was living out a scene in Spirit (remember the Dreamworks movie!?), Bryan Adams soundtrack and all. Upon waking, I knew immediately that a brumby was one of my allies (I used to pretend as a kid that I was a brumby because I loved this show). When I got to the villa our training was held in that morning, I sat and asked again. I looked down at my sacred objects I brought with me to be a khuya for my mesa (medicine bundle) and realised my air element animal ally was with me all along! I have a tiny owl figurine that was gifted from a dear friend during an intensely painful time that brought me comfort. Following that, I realised Eel was my water element animal ally.. Duh! That’s why he came to me a few days prior. I had one left, for the element of fire. I closed my eyes and was sitting on a West Coast Australian beach watching the sun go down on the horizon. I could sense there were so many animal spirits behind me, watching me, and I asked mine to come forward. Nothing. I was pushing too hard. I relaxed and remembered the joy and peace of those WA sunsets when I was living in a van years ago, so fiercely connected to the rawness of the land. Instantly, I had a visitor beside me… Nala, from The Lion King. I giggled. The day before, one of the girls on the training had called me a lioness, and if you ask my Mum, I was unhealthily obsessed with The Lion King for years as a wee one.
The point of all this is: whatever we’re seeking on our ‘spiritual’ journey — don’t take it all so fucking seriously!
It’s meant to be FUN.
This facilitator training was NOT about working through a manual.
It wasn’t about intellectual information — it wasn’t even actually about learning, really, it was about ALLOWING, because our guidance to lead, inspire and facilitate sacred space is always with us, we just get in the freakin’ way.
It was about embodiment.
Reclamation of our power as masterful creators.
Deep remembrance of what we truly are.
Communion with pachamama, the celestial realms, our guides, animal allies — pretty much everything in this world, seen and unseen, that is ‘outside’ or ‘other’ than us. When we tune in to these elements, we remember that we’re all of it. Cue connection, empathy, wisdom.
This training was about BEING the medicine. Becoming the ceremony.
For now, this post will remain unfinished, as many of the experiences are still integrating and need more time before they are to be shared. Sacred upgrade is a-happening ;)
Wondering What The Heck A Cacao Ceremony is!? If you’re not game to show up to a virtual gathering with me just yet, watch a replay of a recorded Full Moon Cacao Ceremony Community Call and play along.
WATCH CACAO CEREMONY REPLAY (you’ll find a playlist and recipe here too!)
Immense appreciation for the incredible individual forces of each of my fellow brothers + sisters that walked this journey alongside me, to Danni for her presence, service + unconditional joy, and to Jemma for carrying this work forward with radiance, embodiment and full-out power!