I am a healer – a psychotherapist specializing in trauma, grief, and loss. My clinical training is steeped in Western traditions of healing. I am also a seeker. I study Eastern philosophy and energy healing, exploring shamanic practices and ceremonies, exposing myself to spiritual practices from cultures around the world. Now I find myself building a bridge between these two traditions.
Last fall I went to my first cacao ceremony facilitated by Holistic Chef and Shamanic Healer, Sarah Eve Cardell. Raw cacao has been used as ceremonial medicine since ancient times by Aztec and Mayan cultures. Cacao ceremonies provide the opportunity to connect to yourself and open your heart, release negative energy, old patterns and traumas, and aids in transformational shifts.
I help my clients to process traumas and have the privilege of witnessing their transformation, and the more I learn about ancient spiritual traditions, the more I’m amazed at how many Western modern day therapies and philosophical thought can be traced back to ancient cultures. I’m always surprised at the many different ways there are of “saying the same thing.”
As Sarah Eve Cardell says, “In ceremony, we transcend the limits of the mind.” I’d love to share with you my experience from the cacao ceremony.
Pele came to show me. Pele, goddess of fire and power and wind, of sacred land. She came to show me. Secrets are buried in the earth. Secrets. Some are hot and will burn you. Some are soft and will soothe you.
Standing in the shadow of a tree at the bottom of the mountain I sensed her before I saw her. Her presence filled up the air around me as she quietly approached from behind. Molecules dancing with her power. I wait. She circled around and stood in front of me. Her beautiful, dark skin painted with patterns of little white tiny circles around her fine features, circles and swirls of red weaving between the white dots. Her eyes dark and bright at the same time, orbs of luminescence holding vast canyons inside. She looked at me, through me, in me, saw all of me.
Holding out her hand, no words uttered, none needed. I clasped her hand and we started to walk up the mountain. She was tall and graceful and moved with ease. Walking barefoot over stones, pebbles, sticks, mud, and grass. Walking in faith. She was leading, to show me.
Long walk up to the very top of the mountain peak. As we reached the edge, just about to peer over to the other side, a rumbling sound echoed in my ears as a fissure began to develop. She held my hand tightly as the fissure cracked and split the top of the mountain, creating a gaping wound of darkness. I looked up at her beautiful face of dots and swirls and orbs and knew I was meant to see. I looked back down. Red, viscous, burning hot liquid lava spewed out of the darkness. Hurled with great force, extreme heat, explosion of infinite power.
I looked at her again. As the mountain changed so had she. No longer tall and beautiful and graceful. Very short now, thick torso, her dark painted skin rough and worn. Grinning glee, mouth opened to teeth white against dark lips, shining pearls. Deep creases crinkled along the painted patterns of white circles and red swirls.
She didn’t have to say. I knew.
This earth is me and it is you and it is they. It is all. I will be here for you. I am showing you. You must walk the mountain. You must go through the fire.
When she was satisfied I knew the secrets she took my hand again. We glided down the side of the mountain. Glided smoothly down, skimming over tree tops. My hand in hers, with complete faith.
Down to clear water river. Current rushing through the white and blue froth. She turned and held out her arms. I fell into her embrace as her body morphed into a soft filmy cloud holding me close. Cradled in her caress, we fell backward into the water as she became the vessel to hold me through rough waters and calm. Taking me to where I’m going.
I took a deep breath. We let the current lead us.
I let the current lead me, trusting the Divine cradles me, holding me at all times. Holding you at all times.
Life is the mountain we climb. Sometimes the path is difficult, with fallen logs, large rocks, thick, ankle-deep mud, and deep, dark, crevices to overcome. Sometimes the path is smooth and clear, filled with green grass, soft wind, fragrant flowers, and expansive skies as we climb, climb, climb.
There are forests to walk through along the climb and sometimes we get lost. We take a turn and lose our way. We lose our footing and fall hard. Or we are pushed into an abyss and surrounded by darkness so black we fear we may never find our way out. The path may lead to fire flames consuming all we know, taking us down until we feel like ashes barely fluttering after an inferno.
We wait. Until we can look up at the sky, see the light, and with faith, with courage, with soul strength, rise. Cradled by the Divine. Transformed, like the phoenix, pure and powerful, regenerated, ready to continue on up the path ahead. We climb again. And we find the rivers. We are led, and we flow, and we know. Ah yes, this is the path for me. This is my purpose. Trusting, always trusting. Knowing, always knowing. Gratitude, always gratitude.
She doesn’t have to say. You know.
To explore Sarah Eve Cardell’s offerings, including her cacao ceremonies, visit her website www.sarahevecardell.com
Debbie Augenthaler, LMHC, NCC, is an author and psychotherapist in private practice in New York City, where she specializes in trauma, grief and loss. Her award-winning book, You Are Not Alone: A Heartfelt Guide for Grief, Healing, and Hope combines her personal story of devastating loss with practical insights and simple suggestions for healing. Join her Facebook community, Grief to Gratitude, and follow her on Instagram.