It took a health crisis for my relationship with myself and sugar to change.
I would like to share a little back story on how I was led to start offering Cacao and Shamanic Healing Wisdom Ceremonies in a yurt surrounded by horses in the West Sussex countryside.
Growing up, we would always have something sweet to complete the ritual of our TV dinner, anything from suet pudding and custard or, when money was tight, tinned fruit in sugary juice washed down with evaporated milk.
A habit was forming… a craving for something sweet after every meal became firmly embedded, a notion that sweet food was a source of comfort and reward for eating everything on the plate.
It wasn’t long before I was spending all my pocket money on sweet treats before walking to school, providing me with an unconscious sense of support in my school bag, and assisting me in enduring the endless and agonising days at school.
As I traversed childhood and pocket money increased, so did the weight of sugar purchased in that little shop at the top of my road… large boxes of Smarties and even larger bars of milk chocolate became a source of artificial comfort and set up a drug-like effect in the reward centre of my brain.
Unwittingly, I had learnt that substances could be used to distract or self-medicate, bring me up, bring me down, knock me out, pep me up and so on.
I had grown up in a culture where a quick fix or external validation had become the norm, whether it be a momentary sugary boost, scrolling the internet, chasing that promotion, a better relationship or material acquisition, enjoying a few glasses as a reward at the end of a long day or rolling up a note and inhaling my way out of that dopamine dip.
I have grown up in an era of relinquishing power to patriarchal systems and structures that are designed to manufacture good workers with the fantastic byproduct of becoming excellent consumers that seek the ‘thing’ that will bring lasting satisfaction and the promise that one day you will wake up and all your dreams have come true.
Walt Disney, you have a lot to answer for, but that’s another story! Let’s keep on track….
I am amazed at the coping mechanisms we adopt, how we two-legged folk find ingenious ways to manage strong emotions and muffle out deep-rooted suffering.
When I look back at my younger self, I have great love and affection for her. She found marvellous coping mechanisms that enabled me to hide the fact I felt damaged and defective, and that it was all my fault and for the ability to portray the image of a strong woman who had it all together.
This act carried me into my 30s but by then my body had started to scream at me to stop punishing myself, stop pushing, stop hating, stop striving and start taking care instead.
I had reached a tipping point and my health had started to suffer the consequences. By checking myself into a detox clinic in a desperate attempt to alleviate the symptoms that the doctors and health professionals couldn’t and by taking along a little book called ‘True Love’ by Thich Nhat Hanh, I had unwittingly embarked on a new way of living with myself, one called Self Love.
Self Love. Yes, I know it could sound excessive and possibly a little egocentric in a culture that doesn’t revere this concept and at worst makes us feel guilty for even thinking about it.
Quite frankly it can feel hard to navigate. What does it mean? What is enough? What is too much? What does it feel like? What does it look like? How do I bring it into my life?
No wonder so many of us can’t imagine embarking on such an endeavour or knowing where to start.
Firstly, I had to start small to make it work for me. It had to fit into my day without feeling pressured or a chore, but I did need to meet myself halfway and carve out a little time on my yoga mat, even if it was just for a few minutes.
Having always had a sense of detachment from myself, cut off from my body as if it was something quite separate from me, this new and emerging relationship with myself threw up all sorts of emotions.
I resisted (hugely!), cried, shook, laughed, and ached but most importantly I started to reconnect with my home, my body. I began to care about myself!
Then something quite strange took place… I started to look forward to sacred time with myself, becoming in touch with what movement felt good and what didn’t. I started to cultivate agency over my body rather than feeling swept away by life or the illusion that awful things just happen to me.
I started to enjoy the sensations of movement for movement’s sake with no goal or end game. I arrived at the realisation that movement practices don’t have to be punishing or extreme to provide a significant reward.
I was now entering a new phase, one in which I could start dealing with the intense emotions long suppressed and as a product of this finally be able to bid farewell to the substances that had supported this facade for too long.
A new way of living with myself had begun and love of gentle yoga was born, a crucial part in the jigsaw puzzle of my way back to purpose, passion and chocolate!
More importantly, my relationship with all things chocolatey and sweet changed. It no longer served as a crutch or band-aid. As my relationship with myself flourished so too did a new love… no, not my new husband but cacao!
Cacao ceremonies have been held for thousands of years to heal the mind, body and spirit. Depending on the dosage and where you are at, each time you drink you can gain more insight into the power of this beautiful plant.
From the energised to tender, you are able to release, heal, and gain new perspectives in all areas of life, which starts the process of self-love that ripples out into all areas of life.
For me, this included my relationship with foods including all the sweet ‘reward’ foods, alcohol, shopping, and the list goes on… and on!
This is one part of my life's jigsaw puzzle, bringing me back to a stronger sense of my true self with a new purpose and passion in sharing this beautiful sacred plant medicine.
Did you know you can come together with loved ones for a private cacao ceremony?
There is a new way to celebrate special events in your life and mark significant birthdays ~ one where experience and heart connection with your loved ones supersedes the superficial and material gift that holds no real meaning or lasting impression.
When you give your loved one a bespoke cacao ceremony with an overnight stay at Ellasfield, you will share an extraordinary experience that will bring alive the senses as you gather in the candlelit yurt, connecting you to your heart with the soothing plant medicine of cacao that brings balance and a sense of peace.
In these times of fast-paced living, this is a real chance to step out of the chaos into a magical place where time stands still.
Honouring a particular life event with family or friends with cacao opens the heart, lifts the mood and enhances creativity and connection. It is the perfect conduit for an alternative way to celebrate or honour a moment.
After a phone chat, I can design ceremonies, especially for you just for you and your guests.
When to hold ceremony
Birthing New Projects
Coming of Age
Intention Setting and Letting Go Of Outdated Patterns or Behaviours
Hen and Wedding Celebrations
Family and Friend Unions, Birthdays and Memorials
Each is created and orchestrated for the current moment. No ceremony is ever the same and I work with an ancient medicine wheel in these lands. Your personally created ceremony experience is a magical weaving of many elements.
‘When we work with nature’s rhythms, we bring ourselves into alignment: simultaneously finding strength and openness.’
Working with cacao is a way to allow people to quieten their minds and sink into their hearts; to connect to their authentic power, creativity and connection to all. When we begin operating from our hearts, the shifts can be huge.
I create ceremonial circles for people to connect to their hearts and strengthen the unity of being human, release pain and limitations and rediscover their inner passion, compassion, wisdom and clarity.
Each ceremony is themed differently, relating to the seasons and collective energies and connects us to working with the ancient medicine wheel of these lands.
There is a reason people all over the world love chocolate and it isn’t just the taste. But chocolate doesn’t touch the sides of the experience you can embody when working ceremonial grade cacao, which is heightened within the ceremony.
My solid intention is to deliver all offerings from a place of heart and assist clients on their own path, bringing balance and healing using only heirloom ceremonial cacao paste ethically sourced through workers' co-operative of small family farmers to chemical-free organic standards.
Birthday or Special Event Cacao Ceremony
plus Overnight Stay
3 PM Arrivals ~
Robin Shepherds Hut with Private Wood-Fired Hot Tub
Homemade Birthday Cake or Brownies with Berries
Private Use Of Spa Facilities ~
Cold Water Swimming Pond
Private Wood Fired Hot Tub
Home Cooked Breakfast
Choose From ~
Guided walking meditation, The Halo Method is a connection to Mother Earth like no other ~ one which quickly releases negative thoughts and emotions technique.
Shamanic Healing Wisdom Journey
Staying close to mother earth, it’s time to relax and let the beat of the drum carry you to meet with your animal spirit guide, reconnect with your intuitive senses, creativity and joy ~ the truth of who you are.
Two Hours Use Of Spa Facilities
£233 per person based on two people sharing the
Robin Shepherds Hut
10% discount 5-8 people per private party
*This offer is available Sunday to Thursday
Working at the point of the trauma or root of the wound. The process is for individuals who are ready to undertake and address their wounds, release past stories and step into their power. This process works to clear attachments and the blockages that prevent us from living with ease, power and grace.
£120 2/3 hours
1:1 Yoga and Meditation
A delicious mix of slower-paced blend of sacred, heartfelt yoga infused with many elements to reconnect you with your own inner guidance and a sense of peace and personal power
£60 1 hour
£45 (bookings for 3 or more guests)