Here's a good start-of-the-week comeback on the post weekend question, "What did you do this weekend?"
"Oh, I participated in a sacred Mayan cocoa ceremony to restore balance in our Mother Earth."
A few months back I was drawn to a handsome, long-haired young man who stood out in a crowd of guides and outfitters at a gathering of adventure travel professionals. Aaron El Leon and his partner Milena Worsham operate Running Buffalo Journeys from their home base in Atitlan, Guatemala. We hit it off as new life-long friends and they offered to hold a sacred cacao ceremony for a small group. Just by virtue of the spiritual nature of Aaron and Milena, which is what drew me to them in the first place, I knew the ceremony was more than a get together to have a cup of warm cocoa.
Indeed, we are not talking about processed cocoa or even high content cocoa chocolate. Ceremonial grade cacao is a form of chocolate in it's most pure state created from an un-hybridized strain of organic cacao beans carefully roasted at low temperatures to preserve all the essential elements that maintain its essential balance of components and energies that provide the healing powers of the cacao plant spirit known to the ancient Maya for centuries.
Aaron brought the cacao already roasted and ground to easily melt it in a large pot of filtered water with organic non-alcoholic vanilla. When all nine of us were gathered he ladled up the thick dark bitter drink with honey, cinnamon and cayenne to add individually as preferred.
We sat outside in a circle as Aaron helped set the sacred space with a prayer of thanks to the elements of our Mother Earth and the universe, acknowledging our ancestors, and our teachers including those who have shared the spriit of cacao.
Milena and Aaron shared stories of their personal experiences living and traveling among the Maya, and of Mayan legends of the cacao spirit. They acknowledged that they are just students of the Maya culture, traditions and beliefs, always grateful for the opportunity to live amongst the Maya people, to learn from them and share their culture with others on their amazing Running Buffalo Journeys.
"Cacao is considered one of the richest, most healthy foods on the planet," they explain. Like many other plants of the rainforest, the Maya knew the healthful and spiritual elements of the plant. Still considered a food of the gods the pharmacological value of cocoa is reaffirmed today in western scientific literature high in magnesium, antioxidants, and serotonin, tryptophan and dopamine neurotransmitters helping to alleviate depression and creating feelings of well being.
In our experience and as small group facilited by the loving visulizations and insights of Milena, we retired to another room to be quiet, close our eyes to enter a peaceful heightened state of awareness of our own hearts and minds, and that of our mandala as a group together. It's not psycodelic, nor forceful. It just helps create a mental acuity and that sense of openness, acceptance and love that is needed to heal the planet.
"Cacao's long-standing story is well known regarding its spiritual legacy and healing properties. But, our intentional engagement with cacao allowed an experience that informed my intellectual understanding in a whole new way. The experience felt more like an invitation to expand and softly embrace whatever came into my awareness. It was, indeed, an altered state, but not one that demanded anything, as is my experience with other plant medicines."
An indigenous Maya myth tells us cacao grows in the rainforest to open the hearts of people in order to restore the balance between humans and nature, and return the planet to a state of harmony. That's what I did this weekend.
We look forward to collaborating with Aaron and Milena who will share their insights, experience and friends in native Mayan communities on Wildland Adventures in Guatemala.
Keeping it wild,