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From Rainforests to Dances in the Rain

Life is precious. Life is delicate. Life is the gateway through which we embrace our own being through the finite phase of living through this human incarnation.

This past week, Cacao Source had the pleasure of visiting a cacao forest in Petalul of the Suchitepequez mountains. This cacao forest is one of the most beautiful I have seen thus far. Amid the steep foothills of the mountains, and amid fresh water springs, the forest floor was full of colorful, healthy, vibrant life. To go back to the source, the origin of the cacao, the medicine: this is why we continue to explore.

Sometimes, amid the beauty that we surround ourselves to do this type of work, I forget that the blessings we have woven into our day to day lives are not the same for everyone. There is a war happening. It manifests in the form of combat, of destruction, of robbery of precious gifts in pursuit of short term gains. Across the globe, the forests are on fire. By the time you finish reading this article, the area of nearly 200 football fields of forests will be demolished. (rainforest-alliance.org)

Each moment we are empowered with choice. Choose to be present.

Last week, Cacao Source hosted a benefit for the Amazon rainforest. Overlooking the breathtaking Lake Atitlan, we offered a peaceful protest to the war against nature. It begins with self-awareness.

As much as mainstream thought would like to argue, we ourselves are an expression of nature. Ancient wisdom has always portrayed this. The same carbon-based substances we put in our bodies come from the Earth. The same waters that flow through our bodies also flow through the Earth. Each thought that passes through us is planted on the Earth. These may be the thoughts that inspire one to plant a garden, or the thoughtlessness that causes one to leave behind trash. All is connected. All is one.

Fire is a natural phenomenon. It is a gift to humanity that has allowed us to see through the night, to transform our foods, to transform our world, and to gather in circles of celebration. The fire is within us to motivate us to make change.

The fires that are burning the forests are a signal. They are a symptom of the cognitive dissonance that have led us astray from the very hand that feeds us. Indeed, a global wave of #prayfortheamazon swept across the collective consciousness. Our fight for life, however, doesn’t stop there. In fact, it only begins with the conscious decision of each moment to choose life.

Dance is my weapon to choose fight the unconscious with the conscious. Dance is one of the oldest expressions of humankind. When we dance, we connect to the breath, the body, the community, the celebration of life itself.

For over 3500 years, humans have been drinking cacao to honor the cycles of life, death, and fertility. To drink cacao with love and reverence is to bring potency back to the heart space.

We danced for the love of life itself. The joy of flowing with the music, with the rhythms of our own being, brings elation. It brings gratitude. Gratitude is the medicine.

Lightning cracked the sky and the whole Earth rumbled. A rainstorm erupted. The danced rejoiced and jumped into the cleansing rain.

Humans—we are such curious creatures to arrive on this planet. Through all of the emotions that flow through us, we are caught in this tapestry of life. Yet we have a choice. We can hide in our shells—to ignore the war of destruction, to even be swept into it.

Or we can fight. Fight the darkness with the light of love and consciousness. I choose love—love for nature, love for my community, love for life itself.

Each moment is a choice. Life is precious. Life is a meditation that constantly calls our attention to choose the reality we are creating. Yes, there are many distractions along the way. Yes, there are hardships. Yes, there is confusion. I choose to remain present. I choose to be in my center. I choose a future that sustains and replenishes a place of safety where happiness can flourish. I choose life.

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Modern Mushroom Lovers Visit the Ancient Cacao Groves

Tucked among the high mountains of Guatemala, Lake Atitlan glistens like a crystal. It is the deepest lake in Central America, and it still holds the memories of the people who came before. For thousands of years, the Lake has fostered the Mayans—one of the richest and most vibrant cultures the world has seen.

Last Friday on the Mayan calendar was 7 Q’anil—a day that emphasizes the importance of the seed. The natural world’s gift to humanity is beheld in the seeds. They are the currency of cycles complete, and from them we receive all of the nourishment we need.

In permaculture, we view the world through the lens of our ancestors. The natural world is our teacher. We see how the cycles of nature deposit gifts, and we work with these cycles. We design systems that are based on low energy inputs and maximize yields. Bill Mollison, the visionary behind permaculture, stated in the Principle of Cyclical Opportunity, “Every cyclic event increases the opportunity for yield. To increase cycling is to increase yield.” Agroforestry, for example, represents an incredibly productive system because with good maintenance, the system can improve productivity and fertility each year.

The Fungi Academy, a school of mushroom cultivation in Tzununa, was in for a treat on 7 Q’anil. We crossed Lake Atitlan by boat, then drove up through Flower Mountain and down to the low-land jungles by pick-up truck. The land is still cultivated to this day with sapote, rubber, nancy, and, of course, cacao. As we wove through the mountains, I shared a story from the Ancient One—the Nawales.

“The powers of Sun and Moon ruled all that was buried as seeds in the cavernous Underworld destined to sprout again on the Face of the Earth, growing strong and tall to then flower-up and dance in the wind. It was then that all the plants formed their seed, seed that would eventually be planted again. This was the way of the eternal cycles of life, death and rebirth that began and ended, again and again and again.” 
— The Nawales: The Ancient Ones (Stanzione, 2016)

We shared the story of the Nawales on the same road the Ancient Ones traveled up and down with their packs heavy with goods for trade in markets far and wide of Latin America. The world was frothing for the Mayan’s goods crafted by through careful cultivation—from seeds to products.

Odylia Suhul, the director of the Nuevo Amanacer women’s collective, still tends to the cacao orchards that her father and her father’s father tended to. For over three thousand years, the Suchitepequez Mountains have been growing cacao that has been prized for its richness, deliciousness, and medicinal benefits. The fruits grow healthily and abundantly without any synthetic chemicals.

The Fungi enthusiasts were keen to explore the orchards. Like children in a candy store, they pranced among the grove foraging mushrooms. In the hot, humid jungle, various fruiting mushroom bodies manifested in various shapes and sizes. Below the thick blanket of leaves, the mycelium (mushroom roots) formed a thick mat, indicating healthy soil. A flappy fungus known as “oreja del perro” by locals, or coloqially as “monkey ear” grew casually in the undergrove. Naturally the group riled up on collecting the spores to grow back at the Academy.

And this was a lot of how the Nawales, the Ancient Ones, lived their lives. They observed the natural world, they cherished the gifts they found, they found new ways to alchemize them in ways of higher value, and they traded them for more novelties. They knew that through synergy with the Earth and the various people, we are abundant. Odylia guided the group through the bountiful fruit forests, and the fungi lovers shared their knowledge and passion of mushrooms.

Then, something amazing happened. I had planned a lesson on permaculture for the Fungi Academy, but the Mayans wanted to listen too. It wasn’t the type of lesson, though, where one person teaches—we all learn from each other. Because deep in the cacao forests where the people live off the land, the ancient wisdom still exists. The Mayans never strayed far from their roots. The flowers and fruits of their way of life continued to shower upon us. What more could I share with them other than the whole world is yearning for the resurgence of their wisdom?

“There was no end to this sacred cycle of sprouting, growing, flowering, seeding, dying and rebirth on the Face of the Earth. There was nothing in the world that came to life that did not eventually die, just as there wasn’t anything that came to life that died that was not eventually born again. This was the way of everything that existed in the Nawales’ world, a world that was governed by the divine movement of the Sun, Moon, and Earth, all of which created constant change in the lives, deaths and rebirths of the countless beings that lived and died in and on the Face of the Earth.”
— The Nawales: The Ancient Ones (Stanzione, 2016)

The Earth is an alchemist. We are all alchemists. We are alchemizing all of the time, whether we realize it or not. When we are mindful of our power, of our alchemy, we craft circumstances for ourselves and the world around us that are favorable. Like building a kingdom, we are only as strong as the foundation that supports us. From the ground, we grow. All we’ll ever reap is what we sew.

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iDance: An Ecstatic Approach to Becoming Human Again

When humanity accepts the reality of its emotional well-being, the world will know peace again. Excitingly enough, this empowers each individual to embrace the identity inside. I dance to escape the world of rapid pace and information technology. Yes, just for a moment. I dance to flow with the nature of my own body, my own movement, and the peace of inward listening.

When I first began to participate in ecstatic dance, I felt a new-found freedom of self-expression. It was like being a child: curious and innocent. What is this energy and emotion we cultivate inside? And how can we transform it into positive emotion? By emotion, I mean motion, because that’s who we are essentially as creative beings. When our motion is motivated by positivity, we create more good things in our lives. We come back to the internal circuits that make us human and gifted.

Two years ago, I discovered ecstatic dance at my community yoga studio in Brooklyn. It was Saturday night, and the vibe of the city was letting loose. Sure enough, in a dark studio with a DJ spinning tribal drum beats, a groovy base, and etheric harp lines, the people were gliding and spinning freely across the dance floor.

But wait, something was different: everyone was shining. Their spines were straight and their gaze sparkled. Their chemistry with one another was open and fluid as they danced with grace. They were alive and enjoying life fully! And, everyone was completely sober. Naturally, I jumped right in the pit, feeling the breeze of the music uplift me and play.

Since this first experience with ecstatic dance, I have participated in dozens and facilitated a handful more. The onset enthusiasm from dancing freely is always the same. Ecstatic dance is a container for free expression, as it unites the body, emotions, and spirit; It alchemizes within us the strength to show up joyously to the world.

Freedom is a gift. If you have the comfort and freedom to be reading this message, you are more free than most people on the planet. Perhaps for most developed countries, however, this freedom comes with limitations. Information technology has become a cornerstone in society comparatively overnight on the human evolution timeline. People are readily serving their time and energy by feeding technology. This is having increasing effects on the subtle mechanisms of our bodies, as well as the not so subtle rhythms of our emotions. As we forge our human creativity with field of computer intelligence, it is of the utmost importance that we maintain the balance of what makes us creative in the first place.

Humans have minds, and that’s why we have created information technology in the first place. We use the technology to connect the collective consciousness into an easily accessible form. In a way, this techno field of information is a “supermind” composed of information, calculations, and event forecasting. Through this mind, we are all connected.

The information technology supermind, however, can just as easily be a master as a servant. Technology can serve us by offering information when we need it, a platform for communication, and a medium for exchange. These are excellent facets. Technology can also be our master, as we are lost into the vortexes of online shopping, social media, and seemingly “mindless” activities that usurp our creative potential.

Yet as humans, we are energy generators. How we create and use energy is our decision. You can tell how these internal circuits are carrying energy based on how you feel. The best way to find out how you feel is to ask yourself! Then you can make amends to put your energy into things that excite you.

Ecstatic dance is an energy generator! It is typically performed in a closed community setting to offer dancers complete freedom. Musicians can range from live acoustics to DJs, and they hold strong creative rights to build a space for the dancers. Dancers are in a zone free of substances, cameras, video, judgement, and expectations. Through the music, they explore themselves. The more I dance, the more I relax and the more I flow. When you flow, you can open to the dancers around you. When dancers dance together, there is a connection that no technology can compare.

And what great life practice it is! When life is a dancefloor, we don’t distract ourselves from the sweetness of the music. We live fully presently with the music of life, always ready to step in sync. To dance is to be free. I dance to become human again.

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Empower Your Creative Flow with Cacao

As human beings, our creative energy is inherent and stems from deep within us. How we express ourselves becomes who we are and how we show up to the world. Everything is creative — how we walk, talk, play with sidewalk chalk, make spreadsheets, or even by preparing our breakfast in the morning. By doing, whatever it is that we are doing, we are creating. Even waiting on the street corner for a friend to arrive: how are you doing it ? The classic vision of being a “creative person” and painting a masterpiece on canvas is a concept of the past. Life is the canvas

Take pride in your creative energy — but watch out! There are many “blocks” to creative energies that manifest in our lives as stressors. Suddenly, life can become a mess while the capacity to “create” is stifled.  The beautiful canvas of your art can become muddled with the problems needing to be solved. The mind fires off a list of “to do’s” and the awareness of creative power becomes a cold, analytical lens. 

The mind’s tendency to usurp creative power is not a necessary condition. There are infinite alternatives, many of which tap into the infinite power of true creative potential.

Einstein time

Einstein developed an insightful theory regarding the phenomenon of our relationship with time. When one is feeling rushed (essentially without enough time), one becomes a slave of time. Time becomes our master. We succumb to “not finding enough time” to do what we really want and can’t enjoy what we enjoy what we are doing at the moment.

A flow state induces the opposite effect. In a state of flow, time melts away. You become entranced, captivated, and in full awareness of the present moment. Doing the things you love actually makes you a Master of Time. It’s like watching a really good movie. You become so emotionally involved with the plot that you forget who you are or that you are separate from the movie. Flow state melts the barrier between free imagination flow and mental blocks

Cacao is a bridge between one’s self and the creative flow state. Time and space are relative. Presence, and especially the quality of presence, transcend the “shoulds” and pressures of life into full integration into the here and now. Creativity is what we witness as an observer of the show of life itself. And as we get more enchanted by the show, we allow creativity to unfold instead of trying to force it.  

Cacao and the Human Energy Field

Theobromine, a xanthine alkaloid similar to caffeine

Cacao works on the human energy field through active compounds and nutrients that affect the body and brain. Cacao increases energy levels while simultaneously relaxing the nervous system. Theobromine is a chemical similar in composition to caffeine, but works more gently. It is the same chemical found in trace amounts in yerba mate, green tea, kola nut, and the guarana berry. However, compared to caffeine theobromine is vastly more mellow and gentle. Through absorption into the body, theobromine activates energy centers, especially the Heart Center. This can raise your heart rate up to 20% and stimulate the body. In addition to Heart Activation, cacao contains phenylethylamine, also known as the Love Molecule, which is a neurotransmitter naturally produced when we fall in love.  It energizes the body by opening the Heart Chakra

Anandamide, a brain lipid that combines to cannabinoid receptors

The relaxation from cacao is promoted by the presence of tryptophan and serotonin, which help balance stress levels. This “cool, calm, collected” state aids in the creative flow by giving us the space within ourselves to sink into the process of creativity.

Cacao produces physical optimization which is paired with mental clarity. Anandamide has been identified by scientists as the “bliss molecule.” It is a compound found naturally in the human brain and in a few other foods such as hemp milk and breast milk.  It creates a gentle euphoria that calms and illuminates the mind. In Sanskrit the transcendent word ananda translates to bliss, blessedness, extreme happiness, and one of the highest states of being.

Integrate Cacao into a Creative Ritual 

Create a portal to flow with your creativity using cacao. Dedicate a tranquil space dedicated to your ritual. Make it special for you; accommodate it with tools you use for your creative outlet. At first, allow the cacao to be your focus as you prepare it with your intentions. Make it fun— feel the excitement about what you are creating! 

Allow time to unfold through concentration. This opens and clears your creative potential. Meditate on your cacao. Use the five senses. Feel its origin in the depths of the forests where cacao thrives in its natural habitat. Ask the cacao to offer guidance in your creative work. While sipping, enjoy the aromas of the cacao, its warmth and creamy texture. Relax, and allow the cacao to work on you its magic.  As your body absorbs the cacao, you will be naturally inspired to explore your creative talents. 


Creativity is not only inherent in our nature; it is vital to our livelihood. When life is no longer a series of tasks written on a limited schedule, or a race against time, we empower ourselves. We become Masters of our own energy by investing in things that make us stronger, healthier and happier.  Relationships become more harmonious. Cacao, which is delicious and exciting on its own, offers the gift of upgrading our energy fields. Let go, unwind, revive, and step into the fast track of your creative acceleration.  Realize what mysteries only you can discover!