It seems like a great way to spend a cold winter night.
A warm, dark, cozy room, soothing music, a warm cup of cocoa — wait, cocoa? No cocoa?
Yes you read that correctly. In Mesoamerica, drinks made from cacao, the unroasted seeds of the cacao plant, have been used in sacred ceremonies for centuries.
One such ceremony was held at Stella Maris Yoga on the evening of Saturday, January 14th.
“Sound Healer” Lori Fitzpatrick and flutist Skip Waite brought “healing vibrations” to the Cranberry Highway Yoga Studio as guests sipped cacao and played ancient music.
Fitzpatrick plays a shruti box (an Indian instrument similar to the harmonium), Himalayan metal bowls, gongs, crystal bowls, drums, and various instruments used by indigenous peoples around the world, especially in South America .
“It releases tension and stress in your body,” she said.
Fitzpatrick’s husband, Mike Baronis, said cacao and music go well together.
“It’s emotionally open in a spiritual sense,” he said of the drink, which tastes strong and bitter before it’s sweetened. “Physically, it’s very good for circulation. It’s an open mind.”
Waite, who worked in the Old Company store for ten years before retiring, made flutes out of wood before he started playing.
“They looked like fun to me!” he said. “And here we are, still making them.”
At first the flute was carved from a branch, split in the middle and carved from the inside.
This was a difficult and time consuming process. When asked how he was able to make such a flute sound, he simply replied, “I was lucky.”
Now he’s getting the parts he needs from the Matapoiset sawmill.
He had to play the flute to tune it, making sure it produced the right sound based on the size of the holes.
“A lot of times we had to fill them up and start over,” he said.
Tuning the flute made him fall in love with the sound.
“Sounds eerie, doesn’t it?” he said. “without amplifier”
Weight is self-taught. His musicianship is “90% by ear” and he plays songs he has memorized. His native American and Tibetan flute music albums have been put up for sale.
During the ceremony, Fitzpatrick asked participants to write down what they would like to keep throughout the year and what they would like to let go.
“Gathering for a ceremony is a way of disconnecting us from our daily lives,” she said.
Fitzpatrick offered Waits a glass of cacao.
“Is there scotch in it?” he joked.
It was Sue Fraser’s first cacao ceremony. She felt the ceremony made her more spiritual and helped her balance her work and home responsibilities, although she said cocoa tasted bad until sugar was added. , said he enjoyed the ritual and would do it again.