Click here for a printable version of The Yachats Gazette, Issue 53
Interview with Yemaya Camille
TYG: So how did you get involved in the chocolate business?
Yemaya: Wow, that’s a good story, actually. Myself and several other earth steward-type people have formed a collective, and we own a permaculture farm in Costa Rica. We’ve been exposed to cacao there—just taking the straight, raw cacao beans and turning them into chocolate that way really, really inspired me to take it further. The last time that I was in Costa Rica we had a few really big events where we were hosting people on the farm, and I was asked to create chocolate for those events. Through that process, I recognized how much I liked it—actually, how much I loved it. I fell in love with the process of creating chocolate from really, really healthy ingredients. That’s how all that came to be, and I decided to take it back to the States and turn it into something here.
TYG: I’d imagine it tastes much better than the big company stuff.
Yemaya: [laughs] That’s what I’ve heard!
TYG: The big companies add all these ingredients to get the taste just right—it just doesn’t have a variation! Everything tastes exactly the same.
Yemaya: Yes. My chocolate definitely does not taste exactly the same as standard chocolate. I do it differently than most chocolatiers—I sweeten it with honey, which is not an easy process; you can’t temper the chocolate the same because there’s liquid content in the honey. Typically, you want zero water content in the chocolate so you can get a real temper, which means getting the chocolate to a real, shelf-stable state.
TYG: And not wiggle around?
Yemaya: Yes. So I use honey, and I also use coconut sugar—it’s a low glycemic, healthy sweetener as well. That really changes the flavor of the chocolate. I also use a lot of other ingredients: most of my chocolate is enhanced with medicinal herbs, so we use things like maca root, lúcuma, shilajit—different ingredients that are health enhancing and give a lot of exceptional, very different flavors to the chocolate.
TYG-Editorial Assistant: How did you come up with all these variants?
Yemaya: Well, when I was in Costa Rica experimenting with chocolate, I realized: “You know, this is an amazing medium to create food medicine!” First of all, most people love chocolate—however, I’ve learned that there are a lot of people that don’t love chocolate. But most people love chocolate, so if you put medicine in chocolate, they are far more likely to take their medicine. Costa Rica is abundant with different medicinal herbs to play around with, and on our farm there are a lot of those. So I was able to have the blessing of using 100% organic, sustainably-sourced ingredients—and that’s another big part of what my project is: raising the awareness of the importance of utilizing food as medicine and also making sure that what we put into our bodies is coming from healthy sources, not just the health in the food itself, but how it gets here, how it’s grown, what the process is for getting it from point A to point B. Throughout my process of learning all these things, I’ve also encouraged the rest of the people on our farm in Costa Rica—which, by the way, is called VerdEnergía. We’ve decided to create a co-op and purchase an adjacent farm to the one we have already, so we can create another food forest that’s much larger, and a big part of that food forest will be cacao and the medicinal herbs that I’ll be using in the chocolate. So I’ll be able to single-source all of the ingredients that I’m using in the chocolate. “Single-source” means one source; I’m not trying to collect from all over the place. The carbon footprint is much less because it’s going from point A to point B. I can go interact and be a part of the growth process of everything. It’s a very unique aspect of the business that sets me apart from the rest. Like you were saying, chocolate is the same everywhere you go; in order to be successful in this business, I really see the need to set myself apart from the rest; I can’t just do everything the same. So far, I’m doing pretty well with that! [laughs]
TYG: Where do you get the honey?
Yemaya: I source the honey right now from the Oceana co-op in Newport, and they are getting the honey from honey harvesters in Eugene, Oregon. So it’s local, 100% organically-raised bees. So, therefore, I can’t call my chocolates vegan, I learned, because people that are vegan don’t eat honey.
TYG: How is honey not vegan?
TYG-EA: Because you’re exploiting the bees!
Yemaya: Exploiting the bees, however, we’re not harming the bees. I do recognize that there are major, big-industry honey productions that are harmful, but everything that I’m using is ethically sourced and raised. So, my chocolates are not considered vegan. However, they are raw—I don’t ever heat anything over 108° F.
TYG: How does that make them raw?
Yemaya: The ingredients have never been heated, so you’re holding on to the integrity of all the nutrition.
TYG-EA: You’re not denaturing the proteins.
Yemaya: Exactly. So it keeps it all in its most natural state possible. You do have to melt the cacao and the cacao butter together to mix it up and make it. I have some chocolates here for you guys to try!
TYG-ED: What’s the name of your company?
Yemaya: The company is called Luminous Culture, and chocolate is the first wing of the business. There are two other wings that are slowly coming into development as well. I’ll be doing live-culture foods, which are things like sauerkrauts and fermented vegetables. And I will also be doing tonic elixirs, which are fermented beverages that can have all kinds of medicinal properties.
TYG: Non-alcoholic beverages, I’m assuming?
Yemaya: Well, they say that kombucha has 0.002% alcohol, but no, they will not get you drunk! [laughter] They’re meant to be consumed in small doses: they’re very strong and potent, like a super-concentrated tea, and you add an elixir like kombucha or water kefir, which are the things I’ll be using. So I’ll be doing water kefir as the base, then adding the herbs; eventually I will have a tonic elixir line as well. So all three of those things is what makes up Luminous Culture.
TYG-ED: Are you going to be doing chocolate bars and powders and stuff?
Yemaya: Yes, that is the plan! Right now I’m just doing chocolate by the piece, because it’s the easiest way—I don’t have my own kitchen yet, and still have a lot of equipment that I need to purchase. So this is still in the process of birthing; it’s not even exposed yet, other than to the very close, local community that I’ve reached out to. And to the community in Costa Rica, which is very supportive of what I’m doing.
TYG-ED: Don’t forget your breathing exercises! [...]
Yemaya: [laugh] I should be practicing my breathing exercises, because this is a lot! This is a whole, big thing that I’m taking on and trying to do singularly. There are no other people involved in my business, other than my “technical” business assistant Heather Graham. She's been an enormous help and inspiration on every level. I guess we could call her my business partner, but she’s really helped me to learn the ropes of registering a business, what I need to do to have a website; all those logistical things that I’m not super-savvy in because I just want to be the artist that creates everything. [laughs]
TYG: You should make little cool-looking molds!
Yemaya: I have them. I have all kinds of chocolate molds that I picked up along my travels. But what I’m finding is that people really like to have a piece of chocolate that’s easy to bite into, and not too big as far as pieces go, so I’m sticking with squares and circles right now.
TYG: I just thought of an interesting thing! What if, for the medicinal ones, you made them in shapes like the stalks or the roots of the plant, or the leaves. [...] That would be like the dosage, or something.
Yemaya: That’s a good point that you’re bringing up, is that people like to know how much they’re getting of something, so once I’m up and running and I have serial codes, and packaging all organized, then I will have [a note that] there are this many milligrams per piece. Right now I’m just using my best judgement and knowing that I’m not over-dosing people on anything. All of the herbs that I’m using are food—it’s not like I’m adding some sort of synthetic ingredient or anything.
TYG: So, how was your time in Costa Rica?
Yemaya: My time in Costa Rica was incredible—that’s a whole other story, an interview in and of itself. But I encourage you to go and look at the website for our farm, and that will teach you what we’re all about. [The website is www.verdenergia.org] Eventually, the farm will be producing all the ingredients for Luminous Culture.
TYG: Will you ever be selling the ingredients? Say you’ve had a good year, and the farm produces way more than you’re ever going to use. Would you be selling to other people?
Yemaya: Yes, that’s part of our plan, to be able to export cacao, and ginger, and the other stuff we’re producing. [We hope to make it] available to retailers to purchase and sell, or to wholesalers to use for their own ingredients; so yes, that’s definitely on the agenda. It’s a five-year goal to where we have the cacao into a place of production, because it takes five years to get a tree that’s producing anything.
TYG: So how did you find Yachats?
Yemaya: Well, my family moved to Oregon when I was seven. My dad is a commercial fisherman; he was actually a lobsterman for many years (we’re from Massachusets). We came here to Seal Rock, and discovered Yachats through that. I just got back here to the Oregon coast almost five years ago. I left Costa Rica, realizing that that wasn’t the environment I really wanted to thrive in; however, I go back and visit often.
TYG: So how did you find Costa Rica?
Yemaya: Well, we were in need of a change. We were living in Portland, Oregon; we started a bio-diesel business up there, me and my ex-partner. We were really in competition with the policies here in the US, and it was really disturbing. My ex-partner is a big-time political activist, and it was in 2006 that we were ready to make a change and do something different. We were looking at all kinds of places all over the world, and decided that Costa Rica was a good option because it has a really green government—they like to support earth-sustaining projects, and they’ve actually helped us a lot. The department of agriculture in Costa Rica has helped fund large portions of our farming projects.
TYG: Because you’re here spreading the word?
Yemaya: Well, my business is separate from the farm. The farm is the place where I’ll be sourcing my ingredients, but VerdEnergía is a business in and of itself. It’s a permaculture farm; we have a big project down there: we grow crops for bio-diesel. The government is really on board with that because they want to go as green as they can with fuel resourcing. They’ve helped us to create basically a regional cooperative, and show other small farmers who are at risk of losing their farms to monoculture how to crop these different plants and save their farms and their families through that process. The government has helped fund the educational aspects of that to get people aware and to help farmers transition into different crops. So that’s been a big part of what we’ve done down there. There’s all kinds of stuff that we’re doing. It’s an educational retreat center: right now as we speak they’re having a permaculture design course down there—they’ve brought some really highly-recognized permaculturists down there to teach people how to farm naturally. They’re having really good success—I think we’re having 20 different people down there for a three-week permaculture immersion course. We’re set up for lodging for up to 55 people at a time. It’s become a really great project for many reasons, but especially to raise awareness and bring people into understanding natural farming practices.
TYG-ED: Would you mind explaining the term “permaculture”?
Yemaya: Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity stability and resilience of a natural ecosystem. It’s a harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and nonmaterial needs in a sustainable way. It’s not just farming, it’s a lifestyle—the choices that you make. Right now we have an entire food forest on 27 acres that’s producing 75 different native fruits, all kinds of different roots and food that all seeds itself. There’s farmwork that goes into it, but usually it takes about five years to eight years to re-establish good soil and nutrition once you’re working in a place that’s already been cropped before. But after that, your farm takes care of itself. It continues to produce without having to rape it every single season and start over.
TYG: How do you grow cacao?
Yemaya: Cacao is a tree. In most parts of the world that are doing mass production of cacao, [the situation] is really, really bad. There are all these different funguses that have begun growing in central and south America where they grow a lot of cacao, because they’re bringing in stuff from places that have done it wrong; there’s genetic modification, there’s all kinds of stuff that’s happened to make growing cacao a challenge. But, you grow it just like any other tree, pretty much. You can only grow cacao in certain environments; you couldn’t grow cacoa in the Pacific Northwest at all. It has to be in a tropical environment.
TYG: So how did you get involved with belly dancing?
Yemaya: Well, my mom started belly dancing right after she had me. She had lots of girlfriends—this was the early 70’s—and she learned that it was good for getting back into shape after having a kid, and it was also the rage back then. She fell in love with it, and became a master instructor, and I followed in her footsteps! She would take me to all of her classes when I was a baby—I’d sit in a playpen and watch. I started performing at age four...
Yemaya: ...and started taking it seriously as a profession at the age of 19. I apprenticed under my mom (Joanna Camille, known as belly dancer Kameal) for several years before I began teaching, but I started teaching professionally in my early 20’s. I’ve been a professional performer since I was 18. It’s just always been a part of my life; my step-father, Joseph Pusey, who has passed away, was an incredible folklore musician who had a main focus on Middle Eastern music. He and my mom were married for a lot of years, and we were blessed to have his music as part of our dance experience—I was able to dance to live music for the majority of the time he was with us. It was really great. And I’m still doing it! I teach here on the Oregon coast in Newport at Dance and All That Jazz, and also at the Harmony Center—maybe eventually in Yachats, we’ll see. I am kind of planning a move to the valley, hopefully at the end of next summer, because I really want to get Kaileah [her daughter] involved in more art and dance. There is some of it available here, but not the style she’s really interested in—she wants to be on a dance team where they can compete. She’s got a competitive nature, unlike myself. She just wants to be more challenged than she is here, and she’s not really into ballet. [...] Plus, she’s an amazing singer and an amazing actress, and she just wants the change—and so do I. I have a really big following in Corvallis, because that’s where I grew up (from the age of 14 until my mid-20’s). So I can teach pretty successfully; I really love teaching belly dance. It’s my favorite part of what I do. I really love watching women blossom into this art; it’s a wonderful way to get in shape and to have a really good time too.
TYG: It has to be a massive confidence booster!
Yemaya: It is! You see amazing changes within an eight-week course of belly dance. Women go from being really unsure of themselves to excited and confident about they’re doing.
Just so you know, I’ll be performing at Ona this coming Tuesday, February 2. There will be three shows: One at 5pm, one at 6pm, and one at 7:15pm. I’ll also be dancing at the Waves hotel on the 12th of February, and the next night at the Sylvia Inn in Newport—they’re having a special Valentine’s dinner. So there will be actual opportunity to see live belly dancing in this area, which is amazing! I’ve lived here for almost five years and had hardly any performance gigs, and now—now, it’s happening! [laughs]
Interview with Lisa Holland
Lisa Holland, MS, LPC, a former resident of Yachats, is a Jungian Psychoanalyst. She is offering a class entitled “Untapped Treasures: What Are Your Dreams Telling You?” at Newport’s Center for Health Education on February 6, from 10 am to 4 pm.
TYG: What do you mean by tapping into your subconscious? [The conversation references the flier for the class.]
Lisa: That’s a great place to start, but complicated, because first we have to understand what the unconscious is! Perhaps if we start with the body it is more clear. I choose and am aware of biting into a sandwich, but my body does the digesting unconsciously, for the most part outside my conscious awareness, unless something goes wrong. Indigestion, for example.
Things that we associate more with the mind are a little different. There are things that don’t register consciously, like if I were daydreaming, what the math teacher said during class, or what I saw on the drive to work. Consciousness and the unconscious collide when we fantasize, sometimes when we have physical symptoms (that are psychosomatic), and when we dream. Tapping into the unconscious is creating more moments of collision. Spending time and considering the things that float up from beneath consciousness in order to build a stronger relationship, an alliance even, between the two. Since the unconscious has things to offer us, in energy, creativity, wisdom, etc. it makes sense to tap those resources that are just waiting for us to tune in.
TYG: What kind of potential would tapping into this 80% energy drain give to us?
Lisa: The unconscious is not an energy drain, but is truly the source of energy. If we are more in alignment or harmony with our unconscious, with our bodies as well as our minds, with our instincts as well as our ideals, and with our non-rational or feeling parts as well as our rationality, we will have the capacity to live more peaceful, creative, passionate and effective lives.
TYG: What is Jungian dream theory?
Lisa: Jungian Dream theory is a huge topic, but I will try to sum it in a manner that is useful. According to Jung, dreams communicate in the language of symbols, but not as Freud theorized, in order to trick or fool us. Jung believed that the symbols in dreams were truly the best possible manner in which to attempt to capture extremely complex phenomena. According to Jung, dreams come to compensate (balance out or correct) a conscious approach or attitude that is maladaptive.
For example, I had I dream a few nights ago in which I was scrubbing a giant toilet bowl as big as a swimming pool! I was working hard, doing a dirty, unpleasant task, but making progress. When I awoke, I had a good laugh. I understood that the dream was suggesting that some of my care-taking habits were a bit out of control. And perhaps I needed to focus on cleaning my own bathroom and not everybody else’s. Dreams often have many layers of meaning and as we live with a dream our understanding of it deepens over time. One could also suggest that my vocation, as psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, sometimes includes dealing with the stinky psychic messes of others. On some level it is my job and though at moments unpleasant, I am making headway.
TYG: What do you mean by embodiment in psychoanalysis?
Lisa: Though we are all embodied (if not we would be dead) we tend to live in a society that splits things into opposites. Light/Dark, Male/Female, Upper/Lower, Thinking/Feeling, Mind/Body. Many of these opposites, if not all, are ranked, with one considered as superior and the other inferior. Since the body is associated with the unconscious, something that has sensations and desires that we can’t control and breaks down and gets sick without our permission, we tend to disconnect from it. You can see this even in small children when they use muscle tension to try to keep from crying when they are hurt or angry. This happens in a much more extreme form when people have experienced trauma. This is a useful coping mechanism to get people through difficult or even unbearable situations, but feelings of true well-being and aliveness are also sacrificed. In my work I attempt to support people in taking back their bodies again, meaning to re-connect to their awareness of living in a body and mind/body wholeness.
TYG: Where did you live in Europe, and did you enjoy it? Why did you choose to leave the United States initially?
Lisa: I left the US because I fell in love with a European who had a great job/tenure at a university in Northern Spain. Once the marriage broke up I stayed on in Europe, studying in Zurich, Switzerland. Now that I have finished my studies, I enjoy long stretches of time in Northern Italy, but also want to spend more time in the US again. I miss my country after being away over a decade.
TYG: How did the International School of Analytical Psychology help you?
Lisa: The International School of Analytical Psychology came into my life at the precisely perfect moment. It was life-changing not only for the intellectual experience, but for my community of colleagues and clients from all over the world. I had the privilege of working with an Egyptian during the Arab Spring, a Pakistani whose family was being terrorized by fundamentalists, a Japanese woman during the Fukushima disaster, etc. I was able to feel how history is something real people are a part of, not just something that happens to characters in a book. I believe it is important to get outside of ourselves and see things from different perspectives. ISAP gave me that opportunity...as well as teaching me a lot about Jung and Jungian Analysis.
TYG: What is the symbol of the spine?
Lisa: The symbol of the spine is vast. It is our central axis, our “trunk” like the tree. It is part of our central nervous system and connects the “lower” chakras to the “higher” ones. It is also associated with strength of character and courage. We encourage people to have some “backbone” and stand up for themselves. And we feel disappointed when we find that someone has no “spine”.
I have been working with women’s capacity to say “no”. When I worked in the past with battered women, we would tell them that without a “no” (without the safety or capacity to say “no”) “yes” has no meaning. In my imagination this idea connects to the body through the spine. I also am playing with the idea that “no” is the “spine” of “yes”. That’s probably enough for now! The rest you can read once my book is published.
TYG: What was life like for you here in Yachats?
Lisa: I loved living in Yachats. It was a very important time for me. The ocean, rocks, trees, kind people, and my dog Ben really held me during a difficult passage. Thank you for the opportunity to share some of my ideas and experiences with you and the community through the Yachats Gazette. I loved my years of living in Yachats and getting to know some of the wonderful people who live(d) there. I am deeply grateful for those years.
To register for Lisa Holland’s class, contact Ursula Marinelli at email@example.com, or call 541-270-6413 no later than Friday, February 5. The class fee is $75.