August 2014
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The Library ...

Spirit of Cacao
by Joanne Dodgson

I'm delighted and honored to share with you the gifts and teachings from the Plant, Animal and Spirit Nations in my medicine bundle for Throwing the Bones Ceremony. Bone Throwing is an ancient Peruvian healing art, a Calling of the Spirits Ceremony, which offers extraordinary guidance from the vast perspectives and doctoring shared by the Spirits in the bone bundle. My apprenticeship as a Bone Thrower in the ways of Ka Ta See began in 2006. For several years, I have been engaged in extensive studies and intentional cultivation of personal relationships with the Spirit Nations who have come to be part of the bone bundle. In 2012, I received permission to give Throwing of the Bones Ceremony with individuals and groups. My teacher, Kay Cordell Whitaker, apprenticed with Chea Hetaka, a Peruvian elder in the Ka Ta See lineage.  The art of Bone Throwing is a traditional medicine way passed on among the women in Chea's tribal culture in the Eastern Andes.


The story of chocolate begins in the rainforest with a tree who thrives in the shade beneath the dense jungle canopy. Cacao (ka-KOW) is quite extraordinary, simply like no other. She's a magical, mystical tree.

Tree of Life
Mayan cultures consider the Cacao Tree to be the World Tree. The Tree at the Center of the Universe. The Tree of Life. Symbolically in ancient art and stories, Cacao represents abundant nourishment, vast life potentials, natural cycles, connectedness, fertility. Associated with the Great Mystery, the Underworld and realms of Spirit, Cacao is revered for her unconditionally loving presence. Hers is a boundless embrace, such exquisite sharing. She's Life which feeds Life which feeds Life.

In her physical form, the nourishment given naturally by Cacao is food for diverse beings. Frogs, bats, snakes, monkeys, birds and insects feast on various elements of the tree. Cacao provides food for people too. In ancient cultures, the roasted seeds of Cacao were ground into a thick paste to create what we call 'chocolate.' Not only enjoyed as a delicious nourishing food, Cacao was consumed for ceremonial purposes. Cacao is sacred nourishment for body, mind, spirit and heart.

Her Roots
Cacao's homeland is the jungle. In the wild, she flourishes in the rainy, hot and humid lands twenty-degrees north and south of the equator. The Cacao Tree depends on taller 'mother trees' to provide shade in the rainforest. These protective trees include the banana, coconut palm and lemon. It's in the shady space beneath the jungle canopy, rooted in rich fertile soils, that the tender vine-like Cacao Tree thrives. Her Flowers
Cacao's flowers are quite unique. They don't blossom only on the very tips of branches nor bloom just seasonally. Countless pink and white tiny flowers spiral all around the trunk of the Cacao Tree and burst out all along the branches and bloom all through the year. Cacao's flowers have no scent, at least to our human noses. And it's not the buzzing bees who are the vital pollinators. Rather, it's midges, itty-bitty flying insects, who pollinate the flowers so they become fruits.

Her Pods
Cacao's unusual fruit pods also hint at the magic of this tree. The fruit pods are thick-skinned deeply-ribbed oval bulbs, some weighing over one pound. Cacao pods are vibrant colors - red, green, yellow, violet, brown, orange - depending on the particular tree species and ripeness of the pods. The cacao pods sprout all around the trunk and hang from all parts of the branches.

Unlike other trees, Cacao's fruits don't drop to the ground when ripe. Rather, each pod is filled with a rich creamy white pulp containing almond-shaped seeds which draw monkeys, frogs, snakes, bats, and parrots for a delectable feast. The animals, reptiles and birds eat the pulp and disperse the seeds through the rainforest. Cacao Tree counts on her companions in the rainforest to plant seeds for the generations to come.

Her Sacred Seeds
It's here with the seeds that chocolate is found. Cacao seeds are highly nutritious and have unique chemical compounds that provide energy for the human body, generate feelings of well-being, and evoke altered states of consciousness. Ancient peoples knew this and contemporary science bears this out. In Mayan and Aztec cultures, cacao was revered as a ceremonial food. The seeds were gathered from the pods, fermented with the pulp, and roasted in the sun. The sun-roasted seeds were ground into a thick paste. When dried into a wafer, this provided a delicious nutrient-dense food for warriors and travelers. Chocolate elixirs were made by mixing the paste with water and spices such as chili and vanilla bean. In ancient artifacts, chemical residues from cacao have been found in drinking vessels. In ancient art, chocolate elixirs are depicted as key elements in ceremonial gatherings.

Her Magic
When eating and drinking Cacao, the very seed of the Tree of Life is being tasted, touched, taken in, and shared. Cacao awakens passion and our remembering of the deliciousness of Life, opening vast realms of the spirit and heart. Cacao is sacred medicine.

JoAnne Dodgson is a healer, author and teacher of Ka Ta See, a unique Peruvian tradition from the Eastern Andes.

JoAnne has adoctorate in counseling psychology and has pursued an extensive twelve-year shamanic apprenticeship to live and learn the Ka Ta See tradition and share the ancient teachings and ceremonial ways.

For more information, please visit:

Listen to a 30 minute radio interview with Joanne Dodgson
~~ Listen Here ~~

Study with Joanne Dodgson Online

'Manifesting with the Moon' invites you to explore the unique energies and opportunities in each moon phase during one complete lunar cycle, one mo(o)nth.  With the moon as a guide, you will engage in an organic manifestation process which begins with claiming your intent, giving voice to your visions and dreams.

~ Shaman's Circle ~ Earth Spirits and Guides
( description of online course with mentor JoAnne Dodgson )

'Shaman's Circle' offers opportunities to deepen your understandings of the path of the shaman and to integrate these ancient ways into your everyday life.  Each lesson offers discussion of unique aspects of the shaman's path such as bridging the varied dimensions of reality, living in balance with natural cycles and creating sacred ceremony.  Each lesson guides you in opportunities to discover and enrich your innate connection with the web of life on the mother earth and in the world of the spirits.


by JoAnne Dodgson

In the ancient art of storytelling, UnLeashing Love is filled with personal reflections and myth-like teachings to invite awakenings, passionate searchings, and rich discoveries. The medicine stories in UnLeashing Love carry many layers of meaning which open new awareness, nourish healing, and awaken deeply felt connections with the extraordinary web of life.

UnLeashing Love is a beautiful book you'll want share with friends, read aloud to loved ones, and revisit over and over again.

"absolutely exquisite" * "insightful & thought-provoking"
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