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Cacao ceremony held at Sage Yoga


Last updated 8/27/2019 at 6:55pm

Cacao seeds come from a small tropical South American and West African evergreen tree.

Wendy Hammarstrom

Special to Village News

Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of participating in a cacao offering at the new Sage Yoga in Bonsall. Enicia Fisher and Leslie Boyd led the offering which was followed by several restorative yoga poses and meditation.

The room was dim except for the flickering of a circle of candles surrounding the altar of flowers and fruit, and I became immediately intrigued by cacao.

Cacao is a small tropical South American and West African evergreen tree. Cocoa, cocoa butter and chocolate are made from cacao seeds. It is considered a superfood due to its high levels of magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, beta-carotene, omega 6 fatty acids, protein and fiber.

Due to the phenylethylamine, cacao is associated with elevated mood and higher energy levels, due to the interaction between PEA and the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Chocolate comes from Aztec word, "xototlotl." Cacao comes from Aztec word "cacahuatl." The Aztecs learned from the Mayans how to cultivate and prepare it. The Mayans called it "kuku," meaning sacred or more than sacred. In Mayan civilizations, Kuku was only consumed by nobility, as it was considered the drink of the gods. Today anyone can enjoy cacao.

Cacao offerings are widespread in Mexico and the U.S., though not necessarily in line with the original ancestral Mayan traditions. They are originally from the Mayan regions of Southern Mexico including Chiapas and the Yucatan.

In the ancient ceremonies, a ceremonialist, shaman or medicine person led the group in prayers, songs and offerings. They would start with raw beans, toast them over a fire and peel every seed individually while imbuing them with prayers and blessings. Many hours of preparation by hand were enhanced by the power of intention.

In the offering at Sage Yoga, attendees passed around the raw beans, the roasted beans and the actual drink, which I thought was rather bitter.

As each person passed it to their neighbor, they said, "Te lo doy con amor," or "I give it to you with love." As they accepted the gift, they said, "Yo receivo con amor," or "I receive with love."

Traditionally, cacao is not sweetened and is drunk plain, and if needed, a drop of honey is licked off the back of the hand.

Traditionally, pre-Hispanic instruments were played as the four elements of nature were thanked: earth, air, water and fire or sunlight that helped the cacao tree grow, and are also present in the cacao being served: earth in the beans themselves, fire in the roasting, water and air in boiling the drink into concentrated form.

Fisher said that when people connect to Mother Earth she represents love, abundance and beauty. Mother Earth is the heart of the altar, which also includes representations of the four elements of nature.

At the gathering, Fisher dedicated the time together, praying for healing in the situation at the Mexico-U.S. border, supporting immigrants who are in distress and asking to bring progress, resolution and healing.

She also spoke of her partner, Paolo Ruben, who co-leads the cacao ceremonies at Sanadora Sanctuary with her in Tulum, Mexico, also called the Mayan Riviera. Ruben is unable to cross the border with her, as she travels back and forth to U.S.

A group participates in a cacao ceremony at Sage Yoga including Fallbrook residents, center front, Anna Willard Alcorn; right front, Katherine Economou and center back, teacher Leslie Boyd.

Native indigenous people see North and South America as one land, and call it Turtle Island, Fisher said. They want to spread the message that it is one land, she said. Fisher said that she has been welcomed into Mayan communities and would like to see that reciprocated here in U.S.

Leslie Boyd, who teaches at Sage Yoga and led the restorative yoga and meditation, takes a group of her students on an annual yoga retreat hosted by Fisher and Ruben at Sanadora Sanctuary.

Boyd brings students to Mexico from Sage Yoga to participate in a week of yoga, meditation and connection to nature, along with some Mayan-inspired ceremonies and visits to Mayan sacred sites, including the famous Tulum Archeological Site. Their next retreat is coming up in November.

Fisher has been teaching yoga in the Temecula area since 2005. For more information, visit


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