A couple of years ago I shared with the Firefly community a little bit about how I began my journey sharing sound and chocolate. It’s been a powerful two years of devotion to this medicinal alchemy, and I’ve learned a lot along the way and connected with people all over the world who are as passionate about it as me. I’m by no means the first nor the last to embrace the loving cacao plant and to weave its vibration with that of healing sound. There’s no mistake that sound healing and cacao ceremony are becoming two of the most sought-after experiences within the modern spiritual world. In NYC alone you can likely find multiple cacao events any evening!
Yet what makes us all different is the individual personality, lineage connections, and even the grounded-ness of each facilitator. From asana to chant, from ecstatic dance to breath work meditations, from simple talking circles to red tent gatherings, cacao has landed permanently in the hearts of many through its versatile, gentle nature and medicinal properties.
What does it mean when I use the term “medicine”?
This is a great question.
For me, using the term “plant medicine” refers to a plant as a teacher and healer, a friend and ally that is to be respected and used with intention. We have plant medicines that we call “herbs”, perhaps like dandelion or nettle, and we also have what some call Master Plant Teachers like the Ayahuasca medicine (a mix of Amazonian plants) or Wachuma (also called San Pedro, which is a cactus). For me, cacao lands somewhat in the middle part of an “altered-state spectrum” (I totally made that phrase up), between what I would call a healing herb and a strong Master Plant; its spiritual energy is more palpable than, say, a dandelion (for most people) yet not as leave-my-body-and-ego-behind as many entheogens. Cacao never takes us anywhere we don’t want to go (so with a ceremonial dose there’s likely not going to be that “oh my god why did I do this” moment…some of you know what I mean) However, when we do want to go into the deep layers of our emotions or energetic bodies, or we do want to work within the quantum field or connect to light beings or other benevolent spirits, cacao is there for us! The heart-opening cacao spirit invites us into a state of consciousness in which our right-brain can take over and we may be able to hear our intuition more clearly. When used appropriately with intention and proper space holding, we can play with self-healing using breath, sound, movement, and creativity. And all the while we are held in a strong light field of compassion and unconditional love. A field that’s accessed and sustained through our powerful open hearts, like a torque field of love!
One of my favorite aspects of cacao and sound, which I want to emphasize, is that both are empowering. By this I mean that we can absolutely take our healing into our own hands through sound and chocolate because they are not exclusively tied up in a specific lineage.*
Drinking cacao, we can sit and have ceremonial rituals on our own, share with a friend/lover, or invite a big group over! Cacao invites playfulness, openness, generosity, and a gratitude to dance in our field and through our hearts. Cacao invites connection to self, Beloved, plant, animal, Shakti, inner child, etc. The possibilities are endless. It is said that connection is the foundation of healing. I believe this to be true. Why else do we seek the Beloved in the ways that we do? Through art, friends, lovers, mountains, or songs, connection is healing. After all, yoga is about “union”. So then, is cacao.
In regards to sound, Edgar Cayce is famously quoted as saying, “The future of medicine will be sound and music.” We see this coming alive as science embraces sound therapy, and more and more we notice singing bowls, chimes, didgeridoos, and gongs making their way into mainstream yoga studios and even hospital programs! The “trend” makes it available to experience in many forms, which means that more and more people can receive it! Yet the real potency of the medicine is available to us in any moment. Sound healing is not just something that we receive from others, from some practiced flautist or icaro (though the potency of those sound consciousnesses is very real). Rather, sound is something we can make ourselves with our own voices and our own instruments. And it can be powerful, healing, and personalized.
Yes, you can buy a singing bowl and play it for personal meditation. In fact, I encourage it. Or a small chime. A bell. Anyone can meditate with sound and be brought into expansive states without having to even use their voice. But then, when you do use your voice…. portals begin to open. And I’m serious. Portals. Open.
So this is where the excitement led me. What is possible when we begin to use our own instruments, our voices (which includes our bodies that have resonant chambers and density that vibrates)? Aligning ourselves with ancient vibrations through Sanskrit syllables, or ancient prayers, we access energetic archetypes the way we might choose an herb off one of those beautiful apothecary shelves (you know the ones—with all the Mason jars of beautiful plants).
And then, beyond syllables and word-full prayers, beyond the symbology of language as we know it, are vocal toning, open vowel sounds, sighs, and humming. These sounds are accessible to anyone, unlike some chanting which can be difficult for people who aren’t into Hindu deities or don’t connect to all that woo-woo stuff about Egyptian sound temples (I most certainly am one of those people who does connect, so that’s a big tongue-in-cheek.)
The point is, when we engage our voice, we are always engaging the possibility of healing. This is through the magic formula of sound + intention = healing. (For more about this formula, you can look up the work of Jonathan Goldman, “sound healing pioneer”.) Every vibration of our vocal chords brings a state of consciousness out into the field around us. With this in mind, our sound meditations can become less about scientific, left-brain, measurable results (which have their place), and more about right-brain, intuitive, creative connection. In fact, what has been measured by science is pretty fascinating, which is that through repetitive, rhythmic sound-making we can induce a state of trance akin to how a drum might bring us into an altered state. This is one of the reasons why listening to chant or participating in chanting can be so strong. We know from studying breath that inhales with longer exhales activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which calms us and can create meditative brain states. Now imagine that we’re sitting in a circle of people who are all co-creating this rhythm, deepening the semi-metaphoric grooves of vibration in our shared field, rippling inwards and outwards in all directions. Imagine that all of us are calm in the mind, attuned to the heart, witnessing the power of sound in a reciprocal relationship with everyone and everything, seen and unseen.
I am super passionate about this work!
So this is where I’l leave you, and invite you to the beautiful experience of the Alchemy of Sound & Cacao, which I am facilitating on Saturday evening, June 16, at Loom Yoga Williamsburg. Additionally, through Loom Yoga, I am offering a package for the evening cacao and sound ceremony PLUS my asana class the next day, which is also cacao-infused, which is called Heartblood Hatha. Firefly’s website or Loom Yoga Williamsburg’s site have the details and in the newsletter we’ll link to the Facebook events! I’m open to answering any questions you have about the event, sound, or cacao.
Thank you! I’m so blessed and excited to share my passion! I really hope to meet you there.
*NOTE: While Mayan and Aztec use of cacao certainly have cultural and spiritual roots, the truth as I’ve experienced it so far is that colonization and war interrupted the lineages of Mayan spirituality. At this time there are brave teachers stepping out to reveal traditions thought lost, and many indigenous Mayans are revitalizing their culture because of the interest of non-indigenous travelers, teachers, etc. This does not mean they are embracing it as their sole spirituality, since the church is still very dominant in most Mayan communities, but there is something happening… This is a delicate topic that I won’t fully discuss in this piece, but I ultimately want to communicate that I’m not implying Mayan traditions of cacao use don’t or didn’t exist! There has been a recent openness to sharing cacao with the world, and it is said in a Mayan prophecy that cacao comes to earth when we most need to harmonize the planet. I take this to mean that we have been given a mission, and that those who share cacao are held to honoring that blessing. Much has gone into my consideration of what it means to be a white woman sharing this plant, and I continue to strive to properly honor the plant, her origins and her caretakers. Beyond the application of cacao as a spiritual medicine, there are ecological and cultural implications beckoning us to view and enact holistic empowerment that includes earth, farmers, and sellers.