All posts by Andrea Woodhouse

Why Eating Chocolate is a Sound Spiritual Practice

There is nothing that can´t be made better by chocolate. This might be one of the552 most recognized truths in life. Even a Vancouver winter can be enjoyed with a cup of steaming hot chocolate! and since tomorrow is the opening of the Hot Chocolate Festival it is a perfect time to talk about  the spirit medicine imparted by the sacred cacao  .

 

Scientists assure us that that piece of dark heaven melting in your mouth is having a group therapy with your mind, your skin and your heart. Its flavonoids stimulate healing in your heart cells, your brain into releasing endorphins and even increase blood flow to your skin while protecting it from harmful UV rays.

While some may feel it is this amazing biochemical cocktail that makes chocolate the universal band-aid for broken hearts, yet I feel that those are just  like having good looks… its great to have them, but if that is ALL you have things are going to get hard…

I believe the true strength of chocolate comes from the spiritual qualities of its core ingredient: Cacao.

In pre-hispanic Mayan culture the Cacao plant was highly valued. It was fermented, mixed with other sacred Cacao-Podplants and consumed for ceremonial purposes. Its beans were used as currency and the whole plant was considered sacred and sought after for its spiritual medicine.

As spirit medicine raw, unmixed Cacao affects the frequency of the heart chakra , making us more open to that which needs to change to achieve a state of harmony. As such it is capable of inducing profound change through subtle spiritual shifts.

Although its most medicinal effect can be found in the unadulterated cacao beans, this spirit medicine is not lost in the making of our beloved chocolate. It becomes a suggestion, an echo of what the original healing journey might have been, but sometimes that is all we need… a helping hand to point us to the door of change.

So when tomorrow you find yourself walking through the Hot Chocolate Festival pay attention to how each variety of cacao makes you feel, as they get mixed, melted, baked and what not different types of energies influence this sacred plant, and it might just be that you will find the right mix to move your soul in the direction it yearns to go!

Live Genuinely,
Andrea

Interview about Mexican Day of the Dead in Co-op Radio

For the past four years that I have been living away from home (in Sweden and Canada) I have organized public events to help share the tradition of the Day of the Dead. Although a lot of my motivation stemmed out of my simple love of the tradition itself, the response that it elicits convinced me that the beliefs and values inherent in it voice a song that we were craving to listen.

At its very core Day of the Dealtarad is a family reunion, its a welcoming party that transcends life and death, it´s a way to relate to death without fear, without grief (even if only for a day!) and a way to pay our respects to those who have walked that path before us.

As part of my involvement in Groundswell (A youth program in the Vancouver DTES that promotes social entrepreneurship) last week we opened the doors to our community to share in a Day of the Dead celebration. One of the participants who enjoyed my explanation of the history and political roots of this tradition invited me for an interview in our local co-op radio (100.5 FM) in the bilingual program America Latina al Día.

Im happy to share this recording of the interview with you and hopefully this will allow you to better understand and relate to this unique tradition and inspire you to find your own way of honoring those you have lost.

Happy Day of the Dead!

Click here to Listen to the Interview

 

 

 

5 Element Constellations Demonstration – Event in Vancouver

Many of you might be familiar with Family Constellations Therapy which was pioneered by German  psychotherapist Bert Hellinger. Hellinger observed that traumatic events occurred in a family system can exert a powerful force affecting later generations. Therefore being able to connect the root of the issue with that original triggering event can have dramatic benefits in a family system, such as:

  • Improved relationships
  • Improved health
  • New directions
  • Movement in areas where previously stuck
  • A sense of peace and acceptance
  • Useful insights

the_theory_of_five_elementscf27e86d4c43b4237039This 5 Element Constellations Demonstration combines the technique of Family Constellations with the knowledge of the 5 elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The Chinese system of 5 Elements (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood) has been used for thousands of years as a device for describing interactions and relationships between phenomena. It is a systemic model of wholeness that reflects our body’s energy system. The 5 elements have been utilized in a wide variety of fields and disciplines, including agriculture, astrology, government, martial arts, military, music, tea ceremony, and traditional Chinese medicine.

Many of you have participated in Family Constellations, but in this workshop we will use the 5 Elements; representing 5 different aspects/archetypes of an individual which were derived from Chinese Taoist traditions. The Chinese Medicine Meridian system are characterized in these archetypes. They can represent our resources, character strength, our willingness to give and take, our sense of organization, our drive in life, our fractured self, physical trauma, psychological trauma, health difficulties, and energetic health. It’s purpose is to look at how our body’s regulatory system is functioning and assist it in releasing and achieving balance.

In Family Constellations we pick representatives from our Family in order to work on issues that pertain to our relationship to the Family System. In a 5 Element Constellation we pick people from the workshop to represent aspects of our own personality and energetic system. The goal is to bring our system to a state of balance.

For more information and to participate or observe the constellation work please register at Eventbrite and follow us on Facebook

What Ratatouille has to teach you about Entrepreneurship

In recent years there has been an increasing interest in the gifts of storytelling. Through the TED upheaval we have been familiarized with the powers of storytelling as a learning tool, as a way to connect with others, and as a healing tool.

The healing aspect of storytelling is usually emphasized through the art of sharing stories, rarely do we hear about the healing and creative potential of story listening. This is particularly true of fairytale-style stories, who by their very format, tap into collective and often unconscious rules and cycles of our time.

This potential is unleashed when we approach these stories as “Snow White” mirrors that come to life as the right question is asked. As an example lets use Ratatouille (2007), a tale about Remy a young rat with ambitious culinary skills. In itself, the story is lighthearted and warm, telling of new beginnings and growth through friendship. Yet through an different lens it speaks of the archetypal succession needed to become an authentic entrepreneur.

The story centers around 4 archetypes: the child, the archetypal male, the archetypal female, and Willing Sacrifice. Each prominent character has exiled one of this archetypes and thus has lived an incomplete life, one cut off from creative potential and consequently incapable of bearing the personal and collective transformation that marks a true entrepreneur.

RemyRemy: The main character, it is Remy´s alchemical decision to follow the yearning of his child self (his love of food) into the feminine realm of creative expression (food preparation) that unleashes a series of events that will allow each character to reclaim their  individual wholeness.

Child Archetype: Although this character is not embodied by any one character, it is portrayed at the beginning of the story by its taking place in the country side, representative of the innocence and child-like state of Remy´s creative potential. Here Remy conjures his culinary experiments away from the stern gaze of his militant father (the colony leader) yet is afforded comfort and protection of the colony. This is necessary stage for all entrepreneurial dreams, yet often it is breaking out of this stage that is the most difficult.

SkinnerSkinner: This character represents the shadow aspect of the child, refusing to abandon the security of Gusteau´s legacy he becomes greedy, tyrannizing, paranoid and wary of change and creativity. He lives in a constant state of fear that finally causes him to lose his place int he Gusteau´s group. This dark child lives in the entrepreneurs who lose sight of the soul of their projects, who stop learning, risking and contributing; yet it is a stage that invites us to release the parts of ourselves and our projects that no longer serve us (Willing Sacrifice).

Remy´s dad: the head of the colony. Although this figure gets limited character development it portrays the patriarchal archetype. His emphasis on safety, the good of the colony, efficiency and upholding traditions are in agreement with values that are esteemed in a masculine society, and it is also what Remy is expected to become. In fact many of the challenges that Remy will face deal with shaking off the shadow cast to him by this patriarchal figure, and yet we can also deduce that Remy´s tenacity, discipline and sense of duty stem from the same root.

This patriarchal struggle is also evident in the conspicuous lack of female characters in the movie. Ironically, Remy first becomes an outcast due to his love of aesthetic, creative and nourishing experiences, all traditionally female qualities. This love is mainly expressed in food preparation… also a stereotypical female realm. Arguably Remy´s epic story reflects his path towards reclaiming his female energy, thus eventually reinstating balance in the masculine colony.

Ironically this epic path also reflects the entrepreneurial constant journey between the action-oriented male requirements and the creative, personal, flexible female qualities of entrepreneurship.

Auguste GusteauAuguste Gusteau: The source of inspiration for Remy´s love of cooking, he later appears as a figment of imagination in Remy´s mind. This figure acts the part of the trickster, poking Remy´s courage and curiosity to test new waters, offering enticing advice at the right time yet disappearing when things unfold which allows Remy to grow his own strength.

Alfredo LinguiniAlfredo Linguini: A caring, playful boyish figure, who lives a restricted life and is often confused and frustrated. Linguini represents the perils of rejecting male strength, in his case brought by the absence of a father figure. While Remy´s dad shows the dangers of embracing a solely masculine persona, Linguini portrays the wounded male who can feel his own creative potential yet lacks the direction and discipline to bring it to fruition. Through his child-like admiration he is able to climb the defenses of Colette (his chef teacher) and with his caring nature he is able to forge a relationship with Remy. Towards the end of the movie, when Ego is awaiting his meal at Gusteau´s, we see him make his first leap towards embracing his strengths as he finds a way to use his skating skills to ensure the clients are served and the front runs efficiently.

Anton EgoAnton Ego: An uncharitable and grim food critic. Ego first represents a force of adversity that challenges Gusteau´s restaurant, Linguini´s creations and, as Remy is revealed as the cook, their culinary future. As a figure Ego is disconnected from his child self which has caused him to lose his joy and with it his capacity to connect with others as well as with their creations.

The turning point for Ego is when Remy´s Ratatouille dish succeeds in reconnecting him with that disowned self, he changes from a closed heart critic to an ally who puts his power and career on the line to defend the vitality of Remy´s creation. Hence incarnating the figure of Willing Sacrifice.  Along with his career he sacrifices/releases his pain and at the end we see him being able to enjoy food, jokes and anticipating the surprise of Remy´s talent. All marks of a healthy connection to his child self.

Through the stages of child idealism, female creativity, male perseverance, change/sacrifice and completion (unity). All entrepreneurs most follow the symbolic steps of Ratatouille: outsmarting their personal “Skinners” (fears), finding their “Colettes” (allies), and winning over their “Egos” (adversaries) to achieve the expression of their dreams and of their authentic selves.

Though it might take many shapes and forms there are few things that can create ripples of change as profoundly as birthing a project that gives voice to who we really are and the world we want to be, so to all of you who are in this path… congrats and good journey!

“It is not for the faint of heart. You must be imaginative and strong hearted. You must try things that may not work. You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.”

                                                               ~ Disney’s Ratatouille

 

 

A Tale of Social Entrepreneurship, a beginning.

GS logoAs of last year I became involved in an amazing project called Groundswell, which is located in Vancouver BC and describes itself as a training network of young people starting alternatives-to-business together, and recreating the economy in the process.

I was blessed with the opportunity to be part of the first generation of Groundswellers, so when the opportunity came to give back as a part of the staff team I said yes before I even really knew what they were putting on the table. I’m glad I did. Though it wasn’t always easy and the way forward wasn’t always clear, the Groundswell team stuck by me as I found myself and my place in the team over and over again. You have my gratitude.

My part in the project is as co-facilitator of the “Green House” class, which is our nickname for the Personal Development layer of our business training. My job description is to plant the seeds of skills that will allow each of our participants to find themselves, their path, their strength and their place. Pouring all of themselves into a project -yet to be defined- and patiently remaining by its side until that project is able to stand up and reach back into the community that nested it  with a promise of abundance (of many types!) to come.

During the weeks and months to come, I intend to share the happenings of learning social entrepreneurship through a spiritual and archetypal lens, in the hope that what I share will help you reconnect your current job or project  with what your true calling is.

“Vocation is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” Frederick Buechner


The Biology of Tarot

How biology is learning what readers have said all  along.

There is a face every card reader knows. That second of awkward silence mixed with the frozen disbelief. Your client is trying to go back to the feeling of understanding they had  right before you what you said just now. Well, what on earth did I say? it probably went along the lines of:

“If you want to fix ______ you´d better stop ignoring _____. You’ve got work to do”

That´s all it takes. Why? because in their mind those two things you just said are as Continue reading The Biology of Tarot

Who lives in your house? 6 steps to find out what your home says about you

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”.  Winston Churchill.

Whether you work from home or outside of it, there is no question that your house represents a haven from everyday reality. There is a sacredness to your home that everyone acknowledges, it is like an invitation you extend to those around you and to the universe. Continue reading Who lives in your house? 6 steps to find out what your home says about you