I’ve been listening to a lot of Clarissa Estes lately. My nights are full of vivid dreams inspired by her amazing storytelling. The story of Vasalisa has played over and over in my mind. You can read a version of it here. Basically, it tells how a doll given to a young girl by her late mother, and kept secretly in her pocket, guides her into making life-saving decisions that will eventually reward her with a life of her own. Estes refers to the doll as her intuition.
The relationship between the doll and Vasalisa symbolizes a form of empathic magic between a woman and her intuition. This is the thing that must be handed down from woman to woman, this blessed binding, testing, and feeding of intuition. We, like Vasalisa, strengthen our bond with our intuitive nature by listening inwardly at every turn in the road. “Should I go this way, or this way? Should I stay or go? Should I resist or be flexible? Should I run away or toward? Is this person, event, venture true or false?”
Clearing the noise to hear my own intuition at the crossroads has been a hard core job for me lately. Taking huge steps toward wild dreams filled with risk this year, has me in all kinds of Tazmanian devil spins in choice making. Being paralyzed by the most simple of decisions. I almost quit everything, everyday. But just the other day, I experienced a profound moment of clarity about my decision making process and my intuition. It began with meeting a new plant in ceremony with one of my very first online herb teachers.
Darcey Blue, held a cacao ceremony and journey circle this past Saturday. Once a part of healing and shamanic ritual, this little bean was so prized in Aztec culture, it was preferred over gold as currency. Though it is ripe with amazing medicinal properties, spiritually, the cacao is said to open the heart and remind us of the abundance that comes from within. It is used to open doors and elevate your mind, supporting you as you to take action toward your heart work. It is heart blood medicine.
Ten of us sat in circle as she placed the crumbled dark bricks of chocolate into a mortar and pestle and began powdering the cacao, a few of the members of the circle picked up some percussion instruments and held a soothing background beat to accompany her work. She pounded and poured and added a variety of spices and herbs to the hot water and stirred. The moment the cacao hit the water in the pan, the room was filled with a scent, rich and bitter that made my head spin. Tendrils of aroma making their way toward me from the pot, I could feel the warmth in my neck and shoulders before I recognized the spices in the smell.
Upon receiving my cup, I stared for a while noticing the oils from the butter rising and spiraling over the black liquid beneath. Then I lifted my mug and took a deep breath in. On a direct mission, the heat of the steam buzzed in through my nose in a curve like motion and cascaded down my throat, neck, back, shoulders and finally to my heart, its intended target, where it stayed warming me from the inside out. I brought the mug to my mouth and took my first sip. It was bitter, and sweet, and complex. As I continued to sip the cacao, I began to feel a lightness throughout my body. As though I was floating, my arms, middle, and root chakras were weightless hovering above the purple meditation pillow where my legs and feet stayed resting. She dimmed the lights and began drumming leading us on a journey through the heart.
I was a young girl, wearing a red cape, running through a gnarled and cold winter forest. There were no leaves on the trees and the branches appeared to canopy over me, closing in closer and closer around me. I was running fast, but my feet never touched the ground. Occasionally, I could make out the beady green eyes and dark shiny nose of a wolf through the trees, watching. I was not scared, but overwhelmed, and exhausted. Suddenly, I came to a cliff and I stopped. My feet physically flexed and I touched the ground. I was older, but still a young woman, dressed in an animal skin skirt and top, standing in my bare feet, the ocean waves crashing below, a meadow of lush evergreens behind me. The wind blew my long hair toward the forest and I stood firmly facing the sea. Then, I heard the whales. Singing deep songs rich with long low notes, full of yearning they called to me as the wind pushed me back toward the forest. Each time I tried to get back into my head and analyze my experience or ‘see more,’ I was thrown back into the forest with my bright red cape, running on air. Only when I let myself free of explanation, did my body engage and I find myself back in the peaceful edge of that cliff.
It has been said by scientists recently, that the heart is becoming known as the true organ of perception over the brain. After my experience with cacao, I can see no other possibility. This sacred plant opened the door for me to see that my indecision is never about which choice is ‘right’. It’s never do I or don’t I. I always *know* what I want to do. My intuition has never failed me. And it is never too quiet. Since intuition resides in the heart, no amount of noise I create in my head can be too loud for the truth. I am propelled toward it like a magnet. Instead, the fear to act on my heart’s true desire is where I am get stuck, in my head. Fear of judgment, abandonment, control, all things my brain tells me are important sing me a song of discontent I pretend is my real life. So I play in the dark woods of indecision running nowhere never touching the ground, as the dead trees of a life not fully expressed cocoon like a safe blanket around me. While dark and cold, spending most of my life in this place, it is more familiar than that cliff. But sort of an illusion. Almost as if it is conspiracy between my heart and my head. My heart has been in charge all along, whether or not I am always aware of it, answering those questions at each turn of the road. Strengthening my bond with my intuitive nature with each decision, using the sillyness of my head talk as tools. So here I am, despite all my efforts to stay in the woods, standing on the edge like a fool, hearing the siren song of my heart calling to me from the sea toward my destiny.
Read a beautiful reflection of the study of Vasalisa.
Order yourself up some pure cacao from Heart Blood Cacao.
Learn more about Darcey’s amazing herbal offerings both local and online at her blog.