My first Cacao Ceremony

About Celeste

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Battling alcoholism for 20 years, Celeste was stuck in a vicious cycle, unable to see a way out. She likens addiction to being on a hamster wheel, feeling exhausted but unable and too afraid to stop; where the safer option is to continue running.
Read her story

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My Cacao Ceremony experience 

Ahead of an upcoming trip to Bali, I was looking for Gong meditation classes. I chanced upon the Pyramids of Chi in Ubud and was immediately in awe. Sound Healing sessions were held inside 2 huge Pyramids built to 1/16th and 1/18th scale to the Great Pyramid of Giza, surrounded by rice fields. They offered a variety of experiences and the words “Cacao Ceremony” caught my eye. It included a sound healing with gongs, and I was sold. I figured we would drink chocolate, then lie down to enjoy the sound of the Gong.


At this time, my anxiety would flare up ever so often and I felt the physical sensations before ceremony. Upon registration, I realised the experience involved using our voice and dancing. If not for the 3-hour drive in Bali traffic, I would have left! Public speaking terrified me and I was not comfortable expressing myself vocally or with movement, especially not in front of others. Coupled with the anxiety that was already coursing through my body, it made for an extremely uncomfortable situation. But the place was beautiful, and I had been practicing pushing myself out of my comfort zone, this was another hurdle to cross.

With an open mind and anxious heart, I stepped forward and met Joseph White Owl (Kevin Westrich), our facilitator who was smudging each participant with sage before we entered the Pyramid.

There was something reassuring about Joseph’s gentle demeanor and voice. When Ceremony started, it felt like there was magic in the air. I was nervous and anxious, but something felt right.

Drinking ceremonial grade Cacao for the first time was a shock to my taste buds. It did not taste like how I imagined chocolate would!

Using my voice was the most uncomfortable part for me. Friends had always made fun of my voice (as a smoker and heavy drinker for 20 years, my voice was hoarse and coarse) and I felt extremely self-conscious. It took a while before I finally managed a soft hum.

But the most impactful moment was during a connection exercise. I started bawling. It was the first time I felt truly seen.

After the Cacao Ceremony, I noticed my anxiety had subsided. I felt calm and connected, with a warmth in my heart. This open-hearted state lasted for the rest of the night. I remember thinking to myself, what a beautiful experience and how I wish more people in Singapore could experience it.

The universe has a plan

By the guiding hand of the universe, I crossed paths again with Joseph White Owl. I attended a life changing 3-day ‘Soulful Journey’ workshop that he facilitated, and we kept in touch. From my first Cacao Ceremony, I believe mama Cacao started to open my heart. Along the way, with the healing my inner work brought, my heart started to crack open more each day. When the time felt right, Joseph became my teacher and he taught me how to facilitate a Cacao Ceremony. He is one of the indigenous people of North America, and has combined aspects of his Nation’s culture with his other learnings in his Cacao Ceremony. Today, the Cacao Ceremony that I facilitate, has been co-created under Joseph’s guidance.

Be led out of your head into your heart

I invite you to come with an open mind and stay curious to discomfort (if any) that arises. Discomfort always comes before growth, and if you stay curious, the discomfort will give you clues that will lead you back to your authentic Self.

When we only stay in the noisy chatter of the mind, we are disconnected from our authentic Self. This can lead to stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and dis-ease. But if we allow ourselves to slow down and sink into our hearts, we begin to open our hearts.

The open-hearted state

“In an open hearted state – the state of your authentic Self – we have a deep and grounded sense of peace and an ever-growing confidence that we can handle what life gives us. We feel at home.”  

Hilary Jacobs Hendel, “It’s Not Always Depression”

The purpose of a Cacao Ceremony is to lead us towards the open-hearted state. It is a heart-opening experience. And how do we know when we are in a open-hearted state? It is described by the 7-Cs by Richard Schwartz – calm, curious, connected, compassionate, confident, courageous and clear.

If you feel lost, stuck, tired or disconnected, carve out 2-hours for yourself to experience a Cacao Ceremony. Make it a part of your regular self-care routine. When we get out of our heads, into our hearts and begin to reconnect to Self, that is when the magic happens.

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