Serap Kara  is a medicine woman, earth guardian, teacher and Cacao lover.
She is the founder of Cacao Mama and the Earth School
Photo by Jaqueline Luoan

How were you introduced to Cacao, and what did your life look like before that?
Before Cacao, I worked for a luxury jeweler and studied the nature of gold from a spiritual perspective while moving within powerful economic structures. 
Deeply connected with gold, Cacao entered this picture in 2011 and led me in the following years deep into the jungle to sacred master plants and Earth-inspired wisdom. Cacao then shared with me: 'We want to be golden again'. This has become Cacao Mama's mission since its founding in the Spring of 2014 and I've helped to open the consciousness for Cacao across the borders of Europe. Cacao Mama has become a midwife to anchor a universal, interconnected consciousness.

How would you describe a Cacao ceremony to someone who has never experienced it and why would you encourage them to try it?
We will drink a cup of ceremonial chocolate together, bring our hearts in one beat and rhythm, and invite Mama Cacao, the Nature Spirits, and the elements into our circle to create a harmonious matrix with all living things and express gratitude for life itself. The Cacao Mother speaks to the life-force. Her medicine can be so gentle and powerful that your heart may crack wide open. You may feel deep love and compassion, and experience yourself beyond cultural, religious and political agenda as a child of the Earth again. 

What should people know about the communities who harvest Cacao?
Planting, growing, harvesting and fermenting Cacao is labour intensive and is done mainly by hand. Cacao is facing enormous global challenges forming a complex developmental issue touching the social, economic and environmental level. There’s a dark side to chocolate: child labour, exploitation, and vicious cycles of poverty. I believe that humans can transform matter. The ceremonial use of Cacao can raise awareness of the value and the sacredness of the Cacao plant and the importance of sustainable and fair cultivation in harmony with the living world.

What is the origin of Cacao and how was it used medicinally in ancient communities?
Cacao was used both for shamanic and ritual purposes. The great cycles of life were enriched with Cacao: the birth of a child, baptism ceremonies, marriages, blood and sacrificial rituals. Cacao was offered to the rain gods and was associated with fertility. In Central America, many old ways and customs around Cacao are still alive. Traditionally, Cacao is roasted under three large stones, with the sacred fire burning in the center. The three stones symbolize the trinity of sun, moon and earth, the forces that hold the Mayan world together. Then the Cacao is put into hot water and stirred. The smoke that is produced is an offering to ancestors.

Photos by Grit Siwonia

How do you combine the ritual of Cacao with other spiritual or healing practices?
Cacao is at the center of my ceremonies. But I do invite medicines that support the Cacao experience, like music, instruments and the voice, guided meditations and shamanic journeys. The intention is to create a space for Cacao to weave her ancient future magic.

As someone who has been working with Cacao for almost a decade, how do you view the growing interest towards it in recent years and do you see any downsides to Cacao becoming a trend?
To me, Cacao ceremonies respond to an increasing longing for connection, ritual and ceremony in an urban environment. It seems that Cacao offers everything we need at this time; a ceremonial center and a cup of warm chocolate that fills the belly and warms the heart. Cacao teaches balance within a universal cosmovision. Here,  everything is sacred and connected. Cacao is love. Cacao ceremonies have been long protected by Mayan Elders and are now offered to the world to bring peace. Serving the medicine disconnected from this vision may serve for a short time, but Mother Earth is rising and we are invited to be in service to a greater harmony, to speak up for the preciousness of life and protect what is dear and sacred to us.

Do you have any upcoming courses or events? Where can we find more information?

Artwork by Alexis Aronson

“Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!”
- Maya Angelou

Serap Recommends...
Song: Madre de luz  - Minuk feat. Tina Malia
Book: Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home
by Toko-pa Turner
Book: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Podcast: Pua Case on the Heart of a Mountain
From the editors...
Marianne: I just finished reading "Know My Name" a memoir by Chanel Miller in which she recounts her experience in a high profile sexual assault case at Stanford University. Her account highlights how unfairly victims of sexual assault are treated, but despite Miller's heart wrenching story, her writing remains poetic and at times is even uplifting.
Natalie: There's been a lot of buzz around Netflix's new documentary "The Social Dilemma". If you haven't already seen it, check it out and prepare yourself for a wake-up call. Tech experts linked to various social media networks explain the repercussions of social media addiction and raise many fundamental and existential questions. Despite some strange acting scenes, it is informative, eye-opening and definitely worth watching.
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