The gourmet organic chocolate bars from Shaman Chocolates don't just make another sweet gift for friends and family this holiday season, they also offer a socially responsible alternative. All profits from the sale of the certified organic and Fair Trade Shaman Chocolates help support the Huichol Indians, a tribe living in central western Mexico in the Sierra Madre Mountains, who are said to be the last Indigenous Tribe in North America to have maintained their pre-Columbian traditions.
Shaman Chocolates (www.shamanchocolates.com) was created by Brant Secunda, shaman, healer and ceremonial leader in the Huichol (pronounced 'we-chul') Indian tradition. He started the business as an economic vehicle to help the Huichol Indians preserve their ancient ceremonial and healing traditions, vibrant mythology and visionary artwork. Secunda realized that chocolate would be a way to help support the Huichols economic and cultural survival after having a visionary dream that people were eating chocolate and it was filling their bodies with love.
Shaman Chocolates blends only the purest certified organic and Fair Trade chocolate with the finest organic ingredients available to offer five delicious, rich flavors: Shaman's Secret (Dark Chocolate), Shaman's Heart (Dark Chocolate with Raspberries), Shaman's Vision (Dark Chocolate with Coconut), Shaman's Dream (Milk Chocolate) and Shaman's Song (Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts). The chocolate bars, which are adorned with amazing Huichol artwork and imagery, are available at hundreds of retailers nationwide and also can be purchased online at www.shamanchocolates.com. The suggested retail price is $3.00 for a 2-ounce bar and $36.00 for a 12-pack.
"The Huichol Indians consider chocolate a sacred gift from paradise and have used it in ceremonies since time immemorial, leaving it as offerings to show their love for Mother Earth," says Secunda. "The Huichols know that gifts of chocolate help people develop and strengthen a mutual love with the earth and with each other," adds Secunda.
The Huichols, who were recognized by former Mexican President Vicente Fox as a national treasure of Mexico, are under tremendous economic and social pressure to assimilate with modern society, to leave their traditional villages and go to work in cities or on tobacco plantations where they are often exposed to harmful pesticides. By providing an outlet for their visionary yarn paintings and beaded artwork, by donating a portion of the tuition from each seminar and pilgrimage he leads, and donating all profits from the sale of Shaman Chocolates, Secunda provides continuing economic support that enables the Huichols to continue to live in their traditional ways and to continue being Indian. Three villages and approximately 500 people are directly helped through these efforts.
Currently, Secunda is sending the first Huichol to college - a young woman who plans to become a lawyer so she can help protect her people and their lands from encroachment. He would also like to fund a Shaman School to help the Huichol elders keep their sacred shamanic traditions alive by passing them on to their youth. Secunda envisions other future projects such as building a high school so that these same youth can receive an education in their native tongue, helping to empower the youth and to keep the Huichol language a living language. He also wants to build a bead factory for the Huichols so that they can make beads to use in their art and be free from the high tariffs imposed on imported glass beads.
As the adopted grandson and close companion of the renowned Huichol Shaman don Jose Matsuwa, Brant Secunda completed a 12-year Shaman's apprenticeship with don Jose. In 1979, don Jose announced that he was leaving Brant in his place to carry on the Huichol traditions here in America and Europe. Together they started the Dance of the Deer Foundation Center for Shamanic Studies. Secunda leads seminars and pilgrimages worldwide, and teaches three ongoing study groups in the U.S. and Europe.
Shamanism is an ancient healing tradition, and a way of life. Shamanism involves healing and empowerment through personal transformation and direct experience as well as the healing of families, communities and the environment. By following the shaman's path people can truly learn to inhabit the earth and their being with gentleness and respect.
"Shamanism pervades every aspect of Huichol life, from the way they plant their corn to the way they raise their children," says Secunda. "Their joyful way of life reflects a dynamic shamanic tradition that we are proud to be supporting," adds Secunda.
Ceremony, sacred dance, vision quest, and pilgrimages to places of power in nature are all essential aspects of Shamanism. Through these techniques the shamanic circle embraces people, unifying their lives with strength, healing and love. To learn more, about shamanism, the Dance of the Deer Foundation and the Huichol Indians, please visit www.shamanism.com.