Holiday Tour Day 5: Consciousness ∞ The Doorway to Human Evolution and Ceremonial Chocolate
... Open your mind to the power of cacao ...
Welcome to Day Five of the Cacao Muse Holiday Tour! If you liked our chocolate painting session with Kathryn Vercillo yesterday, today we get even more hands on.
YOU are going to do the chocolate this time. And taste it. Directions below.
Before you scroll down, however, two very important things:
1/ I’m giving away three prizes at the end of this Tour, all of which involve actual, physical, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate, so be sure you’re subscribed to The Cacao Muse (a baseline requirement). Also start paying attention to the tabletop photography in each post, as it contains clues that you’ll need to qualify to win. I’ll publish a separate post that outlines the details of the prize drawing. Haven’t done it yet because, working mom, and daily posts. But soon.
2/ Share this post with all your fellow chocophiles, because they’re totally missing out right now and they’ll be super pissed at you if you keep this Tour all to yourself. Chocolate sharing might be caring, but sharing The Cacao Muse scores some serious friendship and loyalty points.
And now, without further ado… let’s welcomeand his publication titled.
Five is a special number. According to numerology, it represents freedom, curiosity, and change. It is also embodied in our bodies: we have five fingers on each hand and toes on the foot; we have five primary senses, and five stages of life. In the Tzolk’in, the astrological calendar that the Maya used to guide their personal lives, a person born on a five day is an early bird—the first to achieve his or her goals, and in fact may be ahead of his/her time. Makes sense considering that for the Maya, the deity associated with the number five is the God of Order and Time.1
I didn’t intentionally assign Day 5 of the Tour to this feature, but I have to say, it does fit like a glove (on those five fingers).
The gods of Time are getting impatient. Ready to walk through the door?
TCM Holiday Tour Day 5 pairing:
CONSCIOUSNESS ∞ THE DOORWAY TO HUMAN EVOLUTION and CEREMONIAL CACAO
Fear not, brave cacao explorer. Stepping through this portal will not liquefy your internal organs and reincarnate you into a purple newt.2 It will also not, I regret to say, magically funnel millions of bitcoins into your wallet (you still have to do the work to make that happen). What it will do, however, is introduce you to someone who’s lived the entrepreneurial life long enough and well enough to know how to make wine from grapes, lemonade from lemons, and… most likely, if he set his mind to it, chocolate from cacao beans. His name is Scott Britton and he writes about the numerous ways we’re not living up to our full potential, and how to shift that dynamic.
This past summer, Scott reached out via email to connect. I was busy at the time but I had noticed his Substack and read some of his work. Being a deeply spiritual person myself, who also works in tech who also runs a business who also writes two Substacks, we stayed in touch. And when the idea of this Tour sparked, Scott had to be on the list.
The Cacao Muse: Excited we finally get to do something together. Let’s first talk about your work and what you write about.
Scott Britton: I write about how we can explore the unlimited potential of human consciousness while living a modern life on my Substack. As an entrepreneur running a high-growth tech startup, I never really set out to become a devout spiritual aspirant. I always thought it was something that could wait till later in life. I guess life had other plans when I ended up having a pretty big spiritual awakening in the midst of running my company.
I write a lot about the practical experience of balancing this experience through my own lived journey while interviewing masters, experts, and teachers on my podcast.
Birgitte: Hmm interesting I have three cups of drinking chocolate in the photo, and you’ve got three interlocking circles here. This couldn’t possibly be a coincidence…
TCM: What kind of chocolate do you like?
Scott: I love ceremonial cacao. I usually start my days with a cup of it as a coffee replacement and I love how heart warming/opening it is. I used to drink coffee, but that made me feel very speedy.
Birgitte: Oh yes, same! The first—and last—time I had coffee was in Spain, at an international round table on the Mediterranean free trade zone. Granted, this was real coffee, not the colored water you get in some places here in the US, so it was, how shall I say, INTENSE. I learned that day my body cannot do this much caffeine. I felt like I was a race car on too short of a track.
Scott: Yes, cacao is a much more calming energy. I really like the brand OhmGnomes which is sourced from Peru.
TCM: Is there anything about the way chocolate is done, or sold, that you feel needs to improve?
Scott: I’d love there to be more transparency in the sourcing and quality. It seems all over the map. I have learned that the more you know about the source, the more likely you can understand whether something is truly nourishing for your body vs. just well branded.
Birgitte: This is where labeling comes in—so important. I always look for the origin. Ideally you want single origin, whether it’s Ecuador, Tanzania, Madagascar, Vietnam—as long as you know where the cacao is from, you can start to identify the different flavor profiles and how they feel to you.
Scott: I spent years loving one brand of dark chocolate thinking it was good for me, only to learn that the way it was processed stripped it of most of the stuff that makes dark chocolate good for you. I find that the quality can have a big impact not only on taste, but also how it makes your body feel.
Birgitte: Precisely so—and that’s because real cacao is rich in all sorts of nutritious and good-for-you biocompounds. Like with any real, whole food, your body just knows. Well, I’d say this is the perfect time to pull in our readers who’ve been following along, and give them the space to make their own personal cacao ceremony.
Now, one note before we begin. Some of you might have heard of cacao ceremonies; a few of you might even have participated in some, either here in the U.S. or abroad. There’s a lot to unpack there, which merits its own post (it’s on my list!), but suffice it to say that there’s a fair amount of cultural appropriation and overcharging going on, some innocent, some not so innocent. Highly recommend the Ceremonial Cacao episode of Clay Gordon’s The Chocolate Life podcast if you want to dive in deeper.
As I said, a lot to unpack. Having said that, however, there is no harm in you creating your own personal morning ritual with chocolate. In fact I heartily encourage it. As Scott says, it’s more calming and heart-warming than the injection of caffeine you get with coffee.
Here’s a close-up of a ceremonial cup of hot chocolate. The cup is crafted by Colombian artisans; the chocolate is a mix of Fjåk Chili 70% and Lake Champlain traditional hot chocolate. I like that little zing of chili, especially on a chilly morning.
INGREDIENTS & TOOLS
Here’s what you’ll need:
Your favorite drinking chocolate mix (except if it contains artificial or unhealthy ingredients—here’s a checklist. Also, here’s the Slave-free Chocolate list to choose from. Ok, I probably just hijacked your “favorite drinking chocolate” but here’s a chance to grow and get a new, better, yummier, and healthier fave!) You can also do drinking chocolate discs, if you don’t like the powdered form.
Your favorite chocolate mug or cup. Tea cup also works. Extra points if you happen to live next door to a shaman and can borrow his ceremonial cacao vessel.
Milk, oat milk, almond milk, or whatever liquid you normally use to make hot chocolate
Small pot and a whisk
Microwaving is not permitted. If you try to make your ceremonial cacao in a microwave, your kitchen will implode, a black hole to the Maya Underworld will open up in the middle of the floor and turn the molecules of your body inside out. You think I’m kidding don’t you.
~ You can make it as elaborate or as simple as you like—this is your personal cacao ceremony. It can simply be a quiet moment in the morning when you’re free from interruption (hello spouses/children/pets/electronic devices), or you can set up a little space with things that have a special meaning for you. I just happen to have obsidian figurines from Honduras, a sun god carved stone plate from Colombia, and black copal incense from Guatemala. You know, your everyday stuff.
~ Combine your desired chocolate dosage with 1 cup of liquid (milk or water—you can mix them) heated to 180°F. Heat it nice and slow so it doesn’t burn.
~ Most drinking chocolate mixes already have some sugar added, so I recommend not to add any extra. The idea is to taste the cacao not the sugar!
~ Whisk or blend intermittently while the mixture heats up. Take the pot off the flame and whisk for 15-20 seconds more so it’s nice and frothy. Pour into your cup.
~ Let cool to the temperature you’re comfortable drinking, and enjoy!
TCM: One last question… anything you’d like to ask the experts?
Scott: Why is cacao used in ceremonies and rituals? What is special about it? I find it interesting that even though it does not have psycho-active properties, for some reason this plant is used in ritual inner ceremony by indigenous tribes.
Birgitte: Doesn’t it though? 😜 Some will tell you it’s because cacao is so entrancing that it doesn’t need to be psycho-active. But if I am to give you a response that merits the weight of your question, we’d need a new post if not an entire book. This is a multi-faceted topic that reaches back centuries, back 5,300 years ago to be precise, to the Mayo Chinchipe Marañon people in Ecuador where the first known traces of chocolate consumption were found. Researchers believe the Chinchipe civilization used cacao for domestic, medicinal, and likely also ceremonial purposes. My personal observation is that in ancient times, the plants that people revered the most were those plants that enriched and protected them. In Mesoamerica for example, that was cacao and corn. These plants gave the people a wide variety of highly valuable uses, from food to medicine to the ritual and ceremonial, which was intertwined with the connection between the priest class and the kings to the gods, and by extension the geopolitical, military, and economic well being of their societies. No wonder cacao was held in such high esteem. For us today, sadly, it has been reduced to a commercial product and a commodity.
Much more to say on this… once the Tour concludes I’ll get back to the stack of posts I’ve got cooking, including on this topic.
I hope you have enjoyed today’s feature, and I hope you’ll try your hand at making your own personal ceremonial chocolate and come back to the comments to share your thoughts and experiences.
Here is the portal to Scott’s Substack. It’s a short trip… I promise you’ll come through to the other side biologically intact. You might experience a bit of extraordinary insight or inspiration, especially if you imbibe hot chocolate while reading, but that’s on you—as it should be.
COMING UP! DAY 6 of the TCM HOLIDAY TOUR
Tell us how you liked your ceremonial cacao! Did it rock your world or did you go running back to coffee? Remember it takes 21 tries to form a new habit, so…. you might have to do this ceremonial chocolate morning thing twenty more times.
Hey I have an idea. There are exactly twenty days left in the Tour… ooh coincidence?? I think not! Hint hint :)
Painted chocolate, ceremonial cacao… my, my, we certainly seem to be on a rather tastebud-altering ride. Just wait till tomorrow, when we talk to the High Priestess of Utopia herself. Make sure you have your ceremonial chocolate ready.
Rasine, Birgitte, The Serpent and the Jaguar: Living in Sacred Time. LUCITÀ Publishing, 2011, p. 30. [Note: It feels really weird citing myself, but I gotta do it, lest I be accused of self-plagiarism 🙄 (yes that is a thing)]
Fine print: While we exercise all of the usual precautions that tech companies do when they collect your data, we can only provide a guarantee of 99.99% per cent of this statement. So in the really rare case that you do get turned into a purple newt once you finish reading, we recommend having some cacao tea with a few insects mixed in for extra protein and working on accepting your new existence. You’ll be just fine. Really. Just think of the brilliant excuse you’ll have not to have to come to your day job.