I have been activating  a lot of events, wellness spaces and conversations around cacao, healing and ceremony…and when I hear people in the wider community say “all these ceremonies are bullshit…” Those that have never attended ceremonies like this the word ‘listen’ comes up a lot for me. Listening to self and listening to others, listening to body and listening to country.

I  reflect on this Māori proverb

“Mā te rongo, ka mōhio;  Mā te mōhio, ka mārama, Mā te mārama, ka mātau;  Mā te mātau, ka ora.” “From listening comes knowledge;  from knowledge comes understanding, From understanding comes wisdom;  from wisdom comes well-being.”

It’s a strange fabric we have to navigate when bringing our cultural ceremonies to a consumer driven world.  I have had robust conversations with others in the chocolate/cacao industry that struggle with the idea of cacao ceremony and also those in the wellness space who want me to teach them how to run Samoan cacao and ‘Ava ceremony.  I have had customers call asking forcefully – almost ready to pounce… if our Head and heart is “ceremonial grade” and then when I ask them what that means to them – they have no answer.

Often my response is… “Yes it is…but you bring your ceremony” Our people have ceremony with cacao – the ceremony doesn’t happen when we open a packet of drinking cacao. Its starts with thousands of years of cultivation, its how we cultivate, the relationships with nature and within nature, our connection to the cosmos and the ways we harvest and drink our Koko Samoa on a daily. Its the acknowledgement of all the relationships that have supporting this cacaos growth and now our own.

And for cultural ceremonies there are things we will share and things we won’t and can’t. Sometimes the explanation of the importance of ceremony is lost due to the unaware spaces we are speaking it into.

We live in cities, in concrete jungles consumed by the mundane and the superficial, and it can be easier and partly because we are in survival mode that we miss the profound beauty and deeper meaning woven into the fabric of life. We remain blind to the subtle ceremonies that unfold in everyday moments, where presence and mindfulness reveal the sacred in the ordinary. Without awakening to this inner vision, we forfeit the chance to experience life’s true essence and the profound connections that ceremonies, whether cacao or kava (or whatever you create ceremony with) can symbolise. For example our ‘ava traditional ritual, involving the preparation and sharing of the kava drink, is a cornerstone of Samoan identity, bringing our people together to honour our ancestors and maintain cultural continuity. Participating in the Ava ceremony, we not only preserve our rich heritage but also reinforce our social bonds and communal values. Each action, movement and word spoken during this ceremony comes with deep intention and generations of deep relationship with country and land.  To learn the intention with each movement would not penetrate with the depth needed to keep this sacred – and when sharing it, people will only hear what resonates with them. For us the intention behind creating ceremony for our wider community is to help bring the presence into a chaotic world.  To bring the depth into the small actions we do each day.  To remind ourselves to see our own special purpose and pathway and to leave with softness and grace to manage what lies ahead.  Softening ourselves and our lens through ritual can support our healing journey and our families healing.

Wahine Toa