“What I write here isn’t what I know, but what I notice.” (Rick Rubin)
A cacao infused poem
aliveness infused through me.
Relief passed along synapses.
Present to being wholly here.
The first sip of the elixir beckoned
Tendrils (of gratitude)
from my pelvis (spine)
to root down into all that is below.
A wave of levity migrating up my spine,
reaching towards the vastness of space above.
The possibility of holding all truths at once.
Cacao does this.
She makes room for them all.
To prepare the elixir, a candle is lit and sipped1.
A blade gliding against the edge of the block, delicately shaves off threads of cacao. Humming. Singing. Chanting. Giving spirit to the cacao. Enhancing the energy, the ‘wa’.
With practice I have cultivated a knowing of the amount I need. A knowing that is non-cerebral. Simply, ‘this’. Always the answer to the question, ‘what nourishes me today?’.
Much like Yoga, let your body guide you. Let cacao lead and guide you. Aparigraha. Non-grasping. Cacao has been a portal into practicing this fifth yama. The yama that teaches us to take only ever what we need, what serves us in that moment, and reminds us of the impermanence of it all, inviting a knowing of when to let something go. And then letting it go. There will come a morning when cacao doesn’t call me. There are already mornings where I am called to pour less. Others more. We are the ceremony. We are the ritual. Cacao and yoga are the tools. Let there be seasons to the tools that hold us in ceremony and ritual.
Each morning I trust the cacao I am drawn to. Uturunku, a blend that supports internal journeying, or Amaru2, a blend that offers a more physical expression of cacao (dancing; movement; breath work). Sometimes, an alchemy of both.
While the ancient way is to prepare cacao with natural elements – the cacao paste created from beans gently ground on a metate (rock), and the elixir whisked over heat with a traditional molinollo (cacao whisking stick) - in my kitchen it is blended.
- 1 cup of hot water just cooled from boiling
- Cacao paste (30-40g is a ceremonial dose – see mindfulness of doses below)
- Sweeten a little with sweetness from nature, just enough to still keep in the bitter: perhaps maple from trees, honey from bees, or dates;
- Add any spices/plants that beckon: rose, vanilla, cinnamon, maca, cayenne pepper, ginger as some possibilities. Follow and trust what you are drawn to. Often spices have a masculine energy which brings balance and harmony to the feminine energy of cacao.
There is an aliveness to the practice that invites a unique experience each time. For now, here is how my morning ceremony flows:
- The first cup poured is always for Pachamama. Offered back onto the Earth in gratitude for her many gifts.
- I sit at my altar – a moving collection of candles, flowers, stones, elements of nature and settle into the space. Orienting to the space I’m in, the physical sensation of ground rising to meet my body and the relief of giving of weight to that support. Noticing how my breath moves me today. In this moment. The texture, is it smooth or perhaps a little rough? Deep or shallow? Rapid or slow?
Inhaling the elixir
lingering for a moment
at the end of the inhalation.
Sensing all that is enlivened
simply from breathing life in.
Tendrils of gratitude rooting down
and radiating out into space.
Moments of silent prayers offered
to all who have tended to cacao
from the beginning until today.
The many hands,
The many hearts.
Perhaps in the pause after these prayers an intention for my morning practice will arise. Sometimes there is clarity, sometimes the intention is to simply surrender and welcome what cacao needs to show me today.
Always I welcome a meeting of myself.
In the immediacy of who I am, in this moment.
A space unwritten to hear my own voice.
While I sit at my altar and sip.
This. I don’t know why, but this …
1 - To sip - gently pinch above the flame of a lit candle and bring the light to the third eye.
2 - Uturunku and Amaru are Seleno Health brands of cacao.
Mindfulness of cacao doses
If you are beginning with cacao perhaps start with 20g of cacao and titrate up (a ceremonial dose is between 30-40g).
If you are on antidepressants or other medications, have heart conditions, are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your doctor before using cacao and begin with a lower dose (15-20g).
Steph Le Gros is a health coach, personal trainer, Reiki practitioner, and qualified Yoga teacher based in Nelson. She completed her 200 hour Yoga teacher training with us in 2021. In this three-part article, Steph talks about her passion for cacao as an important part of her yoga practice. She introduces us to yoga and cacao as practices of homecoming; shares a delectable recipe and ritual; discusses the tradition of cacao; and finally shares some of her poetry and practices inspired by yoga and cacao:
Meeting cacao in the wholeness of the bean has opened up something within me. I feel that to know my wholeness, I need to meet life in her wholeness. In all her arcs and expressions. When we meet life in fragments, we will only know fragments of ourselves.
Steph Le Gros