In this episode of Waking Up With Melissa Ruiz, I welcome Christine Olivia Hernandez, an author, cacao ceremonialist, and guide who overcame early adversity to create a life of embodied service as a fully liberated woman. She is an influential leader and is widely recognized for empowering others, from minority communities and indigenous women’s collectives to A-list celebrities. Her book A Child of Magic as well as the adapted screenplay Lana Livia and The Ancestral Magic are both based on her own journey of remembrance, serving as a reminder to reconnect with the innate magic within and around us.
Olivia: “Maltyox” means “thank you” in Mayan. The Mayans say “thank you” from their hearts to the heart of things. This is deeply-held gratitude when we say “maltyox”. It’s an ancient word that we can harness in our ceremonies and in our daily lives to make our lives more intentional. In the Method, we combine Mayan cacao, meditation, and movement to have this beautiful experience for body, mind, and soul connections, to allow us to get out of our head and into our heart. It allows us to make space and live our lives the way we want to. But it starts by calling on more things to be grateful for.
Olivia: Everybody knows about Ayahuasca, but not everybody knows about cacao and the other gentle, nourishing medicinal plants. Ayahuasca is very intense on our nervous system and isn’t for everybody. Honestly, it shouldn’t be used outside of the jungle, because if you’re not on those lands working with those indigenous peoples who have worked with this for thousands of years, you’re not able to integrate in the way that you should. Also, Ayahuasca is a vine—an intelligence that wants to take over. We don’t need those intense plants that are harsh on our bodies. What we really need are gentle, nourishing medicinal plants like the cacao, which are consciousness-shifting, heart-opening, and expansive. The chamomile is another beautiful plant medicine that we can work with. Lavender is another one. So is blue lotus. There are so many things we don’t even know of. I was drawn to cacao because it’s my ancestral plant. My father was Guatemalan and of Mayan descent. I’m also Mexican-American, so there’s Aztec and European in there, as well. Cacao is native to Mezoamerica, so my ancestors have been working with it for thousands of years in ceremony and for healing purposes—everything between life and death. This medicine helps us to feel more deeply. It’s a superfood filled with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and so many antioxidants. And it’s a spiritual aid that helps us get into our bodies and hearts to heal and boost our creativity and focus.
Olivia: You can go to www.iamchristineolivia.com/gifts to access my free guide and learn how to receive cacao on your own. The process that makes cacao ceremonial starts with the fact that it’s made intentionally with blessings and prayers. It’s fermented, slightly roasted, hand-peeled, and stone-grinded into a black paste. When you receive it, you simply chop it up and combine it with about an ounce of hot water—a ceremonial dose. You can add some spices and a natural sweetener. You can blend it or heat it on a stove top (but blending is nice because you get that frothy effect). Then, you drink it intentionally, mindfully, and with the awareness and willingness to open up for anything to come through. You may giggle, sweat, or cry. It will allow you to feel more deeply whatever it is that is already present within you. It won’t be too intense. It will be gentle. But it will be powerful.
Olivia: I had what Elizabeth Gilbert coined as “the bathroom floor moment”, where I was on my knees and realized that I had to turn my life around. I started going to yoga and really loved the way it made me feel. I just felt really in my body during that hot yoga class. I was really aware and had this sense of peace wash over me. I’d never experienced that before in my life. I even asked someone that night how I could become a yoga teacher. But I was quickly dissuaded from it when they said the training cost $10,000. But I told myself, “I don’t know how, but one day I’m going to be able to do this,” and I was going to do it without spending $10,000. Eventually, I found something in Bali. It was my first experience with spirituality outside of Christianity. I thought it was really beautiful. I was introduced to Mayan cacao from Guatemala, and it changed my life. My father had taken his life years before, so I was really disconnected from that part of my life. There was so much shame and heartbreak around it, and the cacao brought that connection back not only to my heart but also my ancestors—my lineage. It was a clear calling for me. I knew I was meant to work with the medicine, not only for my own healing, but also to share it with the world.
Olivia: The spirit of cacao like that of a grandmother’s essence. You really feel so held and able to be loved by her embrace. Cacao helps you tap into that inner child. I wrote the book in ceremony so that I can channel the cacao spirit and Mother Nature so that it would not only be about me. The book is meant to remind them to connect with the Earth—with what really matters. A Child of Magic is a book of remembrance, that we’re all children of Mother Earth, that we’re connected to the elements and to our ancestors, always. We’re all one and we come from magic. Everybody forgets all this thanks to the human experience.
Olivia: You can go to www.cacaomagick.com to buy pure ceremonial cacao and go to my Instagram or website to learn more about it.
Olivia: Because of colonization, a lot of Mayans were not working with cacao. It is dangerous in Guatemala to be considered a shaman or a medicine person. It was only a few years ago when a Mayan man was burned at the stake by an evangelist for being a witch. It’s so important to have this medicine in reverence and know that you’re taking care of their wisdom keepers. Through Cacao Magick, we’re empowering the Mayan people to work with this medicine again.
Olivia: What differentiates ceremonial cacao from, let’s say, just a paste, is the aspect of bringing in the sacred. That’s what ceremony is: creating a sacred space. There is intentionality behind it. There is love. There are blessings. There are prayers. Your ceremony can include burning local herbs, whether it be sage, lavender, or cedar. If you don’t like smoke, you can use sound to cleanse the space. In ceremony, we can feel everything from grief to gratitude, and come into celebration.
Olivia: I have the Maltyox Method training coming up on November 6, 2022. It’s an all-virtual, four-week intensive with three hours per session. There is a lot of knowledge I’ll be passing onto you. On top of that, you’re getting another four-week program for free: The Heart of Cacao Ceremony.