Embodiments is Narration Group’s third research project.
As part of Narration Group‘s Embodiments project, artist and practitioner of sacred arts Lani Rocillo led a Cacao Healing Ceremony via Zoom, inviting Narration Group to explore the natural and profound capacity of their voices to access and release energetic blocks deep in the cellar memory.
Through intuitive group voicing and attuning to ancient seed mantras, Lani and Narration Group gracefully created space to listen deeply and intimately – venturing into the mysterious parts of their souls, expressing in sound the unspoken, deeply felt and the raw – reawakening self-trust, sovereignty and collaboration.
The gathering involved a sacred cacao ceremony, where they drank a rich brew of the plant Cacao. Cacao is a plant that powerfully opens the heart and aligns us to our feeling body, restoring emotional balance, heightening sensory perception and freeing creative expression.
The Cacao came from Guatemala, lovingly grown and shared by the guardians of the Tz´utujil.
The workshop has been documented through a transcribed conversation between Narration Group members Cherelle Sappleton, Davinia-Ann Robinson and Jessica Ashman.
Lani Rocillo creates music and a practitioner of sacred arts. She has trained in Sound Therapy, Energy medicine and Shamanic Practice. She works with the mediums of sound, plants, breath and performance with the intention of opening space to explore and access our innate capacity to heal, realise balanced health, compassionate purpose and grounded creative potential. Inspired by the holistic approach in the creative process, she integrates wisdom discoveries from ancient spirit medicine traditions and contemporary emanations in her practice.
Lani holds ceremonies, personal healing sessions and collaborates in visionary music and art projects. She is creator of Wisdom Roundhouse, gatherings that offer to the community creative and wisdom practices that nurture wellness, expansion of consciousness and embodiment of love.
She is founder of Hathor’s Rose Choir, a choir exploring intuitive song creation through authentic expression of the instinctive, averbal, deeply felt and the raw. Where the unique voice finds harmony in dissonance, realising flow, surrender and inseparability in sound.
Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund
Cherelle: Hi, my name is Cherelle.
Davinia: Hey, I’m Davinia.
Jessica: And I’m Jessica.
Davinia: We’re meeting here on Wednesday 26 August to talk about a Sacred Cacao and Voice Activation Ceremony, which Narration Group took part in on Saturday 15 August, over Zoom. The ceremony was held by artist Lani Rocillo.
It was quite a beautiful experience, the ceremony was such an intimate space, and an intimate and vulnerable position for all of us to put ourselves in with one another.
How did you guys feel about it?
Jessica: Absolutely, to put yourself in a position to be so open, to connect in that way through your voice was definitely a new experience for us as a collective. It was great, and quite intense at times.
Cherelle: Yeah, I felt like…because we just went straight into it without doing any kind of like warm-ups, we didn’t know what to expect. At the start of the ceremony we all had turned our audios off, until Lani realised and unmuted us all. I am quite keen to experience what it would be like if we were all together in a physical space. It would be amazing in a resonant space, to see what we as a collective sound could create or how things would evolve.
Jessica: That would be amazing, although we were in our own little separate kind of cocoons in our rooms, when the audio was switched on and we could actually hear each other, the syncing which happened in and out of people’s vocalisations was…, amazing, in a reverbed space, it would be amazing. I think we would definitely feel more in that process, whilst at times, when you’re at home, you know, it took me a while to kind of connect to the meditation Lani was saying.
Cherelle: Yeah, and that way you can kind of be cocooned in the sound of everyone, so you’re all sort of contributing and being in that space together. Yeah, it was really interesting and I’m excited to do it again in some kind of iteration very shortly.
Davinia: Prior to the ceremony, Lani had sent us all some cacao, which comes from Guatemala. Lani had met a couple of elders from Guatemala who had come to London to hold a Cacao Myan Ceremony. The Cacao that we drank is distributed by these elders, it comes straight from the source, the same seed which has been passed down from generation to generation for the purpose of ceremonial cacao.
I find this really beautiful and powerful, this ancestor seed being passed down and all of us partaking in it gaining energy from it and connecting to one another.
So Lani asked us all to mix up this cacao before the ceremony, it was really delicious-smelling. But how did you guys find the taste?
Cherelle: The taste was very surprising, because the scent is so seductive.
Jessica: Oh yeah.
Cherelle: As soon as the cacao arrived in the post, the first thing I did was shove it in my face, it smelt like it was going to be so delicious…I can smell it now. During the ceremony when Lani was giving us the introduction, I was just chomping at the bit to taste it, it was not what I expected at all.
Jessica: The same. Just sitting there smelling it, so decadent and rich. As someone with a sweet tooth, I found it so hard to swallow it.
Did you guys feel any of the properties cacao is supposed to have, like, making you more alert or more aware of what’s happening internally? I didn’t drink it all, so I didn’t have the whole effect. And also maybe with the self-consciousness of the situation and us being on zoom, it took me out of the ceremony a little bit.
Cherelle: I definitely did, my legs, my feet, and my especially my hands were just buzzing and fizzing. When we finished the final part of the meditation, there was like a beep and zoom sound in my head. So yeah, that was really nice. I don’t know whether it was the cacao or the meditation and deep breathing, or a mixture of both, but yeah, my hands were just like really fizzing away.
Jessica: How about you, Davinia?
Davinia: I don’t know if what I felt I could attribute it purely to the cacao, because I definitely felt a heightened sense, but I also think that came from vocalising and hearing everyone’s voices. I definitely felt a sense of calmness, energy, infused with an active energy.
I suppose maybe we should just briefly go through the different stages of the workshop. So to start off with, we collectively drank the cacao and then we closed our eyes and Lani invited us to really use our voices. She talked about how the voice is our original instrument, our soul signature and is our most direct access to the curves and crevices of self. Lani spoke about how we’ve been conditioned to use our voice in a specific way, and that this is to communicate cultural conditioning. So when we allow ourselves to use our voice in the most intuitive way possible with intention of realising these shackles we are more clearly able to express what our soul-construct is longing to express in this plantery experience.
Jessica: When Lani said cultural conditioning, I thought this was really interesting, in terms of how we use our voices.
Cherelle: We don’t ever think of our voices as a tool, other than singing in a nice way, and that ‘nice’ way has so many levels of anxiety and pressures tied to them. And I think the potential for release in just being able to allow any kind of vocalisation or to consider how you’re experiencing and let that out vocally is a really interesting territory. Did you see that exhibition at the Wellcome Collection a few years ago called This Is A Voice.
Cherelle: Yeah, it was so good. There’s some thinking that actually our voices were used as more of a musical singing tool rather than for speech per se. I love that idea because language in so many ways is really restrictive, so to have sounds rather than things that are pinned down with a specific definition frees up loads more space for improvising and interpretation.
Davinia: So we have decided that we are going to take part in private Cacao Healing Ceremonies now.
Cherelle: The ceremonies will be about being present, so really bringing the focus down to one thing. And because the smell and taste was something that all three of us really were really interested in and responded to, we thought that could really bring us into our bodies and can become like the stimulus for this ceremony. We will move away into our own private spaces after drinking the cacao together and that will take us to the meditation part of the ceremony.
We’ve made the cacao drink now, so three deep inhalations of the scent then and then we are going to drink it together and we’re just going to concentrate.
Cherelle: I don’t just get the chocolate, there’s this really complex smell.
Jess: Absolutely. It’s very fruity.
Davinia: Blackberries, deep overripe blackberries.
Cherelle: I was going to maybe suggest that we drink quite a bit of it, and then if we start our own private ceremonies with the last of it. Is that a good idea?
Davinia: We just took part in our own individual ceremonies after drinking the cacao together and we’re going to talk through what we did and what has come from those experiences.
Davinia: So I decided to do some tarot. It’s quite funny because we’re focusing on being present, staying in the moment and as I was shuffling my cards, I wasn’t present at all. I was shuffling for a really long time, because I was trying to make myself be present. I was trying to channel my intention in the tarot cards, and I wasn’t even channelling my intention while shuffling the cards, let alone placing that intention into the cards. It was quite funny, but I got there in the end. After a few minutes, I just felt this one particular card on top and it just felt like the right card open.
It was Queen of Swords, which I’ve never pulled before, so this card is ‘representative of a person or energy who’s been through some sh*t, and that makes for a staunch yet comforting personality. It can be easy enough to be left bitter or super-jaded when your eyes are truly open to the world and what sucks about it. But this energy sees ways beyond that cynical irritation approach. Keep your mind sharp and your eyes open. As they say, the truth will set you free. So it can represent Gemini, Libra or Aquarius.’
I found that reading quite difficult. With my intention, it felt more like a reading of what I’m trying to find solace from rather than a way of sitting within that solace. But thinking about it further, perhaps you can’t block off what you already feel in the world. So just use the resources you know to find a way to centre yourself so that you can continue to exist and work within and disable the colonial and imperial structural racist systems that govern everything around us.
I need more time to sit with the card.
Cherelle: That’s a lot to go through in ten minutes.
Davinia: Yeah… How was your ceremony?
Cherelle: I was just left with some little sediment bits of the cacao on my tongue, so I was kind of mulling that over and still thinking about the taste, so everything was still in my head. And I just started to reacquaint myself with the bowls again. For the first time, I heard a really high harmonic in this bowl. There’s an exciting aspect to it because it’s really, really high. It’s not quite piercing but it’s just really bright. It’s a bit like a super-shiny star at night, to the ears, to my ears anyway.
It is a really gorgeous sound, inside me really is delighted and really loving hearing that sound. Like it’s exactly what I needed, I’m really grateful that I’ve found playing these bowls, because, if anything, it’s just like a really nice thing for me to do for myself, as well as for other people, I just get so much out of it every time I sit down with them.
Jessica: I really want to hear that sound.
Cherelle: I don’t think Zoom will do it justice. The regular tone is… I don’t even know where the… Can you hear that?
Cherelle: But there’s an even sparklier harmonic when you… It comes in just at the end. It’s so nice.
Cherelle: What did you do Jessica?
Jessica: I did a lot of vocal…lots of humming and sort of pushing where that reverb of the hum in my throat was around my body and doing a lot of body scans. Almost tracing like contours of my body with that hum and trying to do lots of deep breathing as well. So really just trying to stay present, but I suppose letting my vocal just lead me to certain places. It felt really nice. I use my voice for talking and singing in my work, but it actually felt like a really nice sort of meditative place to be. I felt like it was a tool I could use if I’m stressed or if I need to get a sense of perspective. Because I completely was just thinking of my body and tracing my eyelashes with the hum, tracing my vocal cords and just going on this journey, until I suddenly became out of it, and was aware of the real again. I think my phone went off at some point, so that kind of took me out of it, but yeah, I just feel so relaxed and also energetic because the cacao is definitely working this time. So yeah, it felt really…just sort of calm and peaceful as I moved my hum around me in certain ways.
Davinia: So I think we can end the recording. Does anyone have any lasting words?
Jessica: I really wish we could do this in person. And there could be something to take from the different techniques we’ve all sort of done with our own personal private ceremonies and that’s something to explore in the future. But yeah, it’s great. I wouldn’t have thought about even conducting anything like this for myself without Lani’s workshop.
Cherelle: I think it’s really interesting, given the times that we’re in, what we had hoped to have done during this time and what the focus of Lani’s workshop was looking after ourselves and taking a moment to just be and think.
It’s exciting to think about Narration Group’s development, how will the collective incorporate these things?
Davinia: Will we start to develop a more kind inward focus of coming together and creating an environment of care for ourselves, which could be really interesting.
Cherelle: Yeah, it’s exciting to think of it as an environment for care. Because we think about collectives as staging and producing things, coming together to produce things, but, like, what does it mean to come together, to take a moment, to stop producing and just look after ourselves?
Jessica: It’s like collective ways of working but not always in productivity and how prolific you are. I suppose, collectively in something more holistic and nourishing.
Davinia: It’s really exciting, yeah.
Cherelle: Loads to think about, as always.
End of transcript