icon The Story behind our NEW Ceremonial Cacao Cups | Sacred Earth Community

The Story Behind our NEW Ceremonial Cacao Cups

by The Sacred Earth Medicine Team on April 28, 2024

We feel super blessed to have commissioned local ceramic artist Ben Ruble from Wild Nature Clay (located in the beautiful Verdue Valley, near Upper Main Arm, Mullumbimby) to craft our new, exquisite, hand crafted Ceremonial Cacao cups!! These wild harvested clay cups are embossed with our Sacred Earth Medicine symbol in a real gold lustre! They come in small and large, and we wholeheartedly believe they are the perfect accompaniment to make your daily ceremonial cacao an even more sacred experience!

Not only are they aesthetically magnificent to behold, but the feel of them in your hands filled with delicious warm cacao allows for a deep connection to the elements and earth from which the clay has been lovingly harvested.

We chatted to Ben recently to get the story behind Wild Nature Clay, our beautiful new Ceremonial Cacao Cups and learn about the amazing clay process involved. We are now inspired to share it with you…

Interview with Ben

When did your love affair of working with clay begin?

It all started back in 1997, so around 26 years ago now. I decided to take a pottery 101 university class just for fun! I fell in love with clay then and there, and continued to expand my skills, becoming more adept on the wheel whilst also playing and exploring sculpting and other more artistic forms.

Where did you learn your craft?

Apart from the beginners pottery class I did at Uni, and what I’ve learned through self-exploration, I also spent three years as a resident artist with the well-respected sculptor and artist Richard Carter in Pope Valley, California. It was here that I learned some of the more traditional wood-firing pottery methods in large Anagama and Naborigama Kilns. An Anogama kiln, which is a Japanese word that means ‘cave-kiln’, is an ancient type of pottery kiln brought to Japan from China via Korea in the 5th century. It was an amazing learning experience for me working with teams of up to 15 others who stoked these kilns for 7 days at a time until wood ash melted into glaze. It really opened my eyes to the magic of this ancient firing method.

What is your personal philosophy when it comes to working with clay?

I realised early on that I wanted to get to the heart of where the clay comes from, so I would literally dig, harvest, and process my own clay. It’s a slow process, from the digging to the drying and crushing, and then sieving it to remove roots and leaves. It’s very hands-on, and because it takes so much time, it really invites me to slow down so I can be fully present and really appreciate what these elements are teaching me. That’s what’s beautiful about it.

You shared with us; your clay is harvested locally! Can you tell us about where you source your clay?

Most of the clay that I use is wild harvested and sourced locally from the Mount Jerusalem area where I live. All my creations are made mostly from clay that I dig locally, with only a small component from commercially bought stoneware clay bodies. Your Sacred Earth Ceremonial Cups are made from 75% locally harvested clay. I’ve done countless hours of testing this clay, and add 5% bentonite and 20% grogged clay to give it strength and durability for the high temperatures needed to vitrify the wares in the kiln.

Is this an Indigenous method? And if so, how did you learn this?

One of my first experiences with harvesting local clay was in Gumbaynggirr Country, with an indigenous woman who taught me to “ask permission” and offer something back to the land where we dug some clay near freshwater that runs into the sea. She explained that it’s important to be respectful of anything we take from the land and to also be aware that by doing so, we need to look at how it may affect the natural flow of water and not to take too much and possibly change the river’s path or create erosion. After we ask permission, we offer a prayer and give our thanks and gratitude to the Mother for allowing us to use this clay in constructive and creative ways. I do a small ceremony in this way now, each time I harvest clay from the earth.

You mentioned to us that the symbol is from “real gold” can you please explain this?

Yes, the symbol on each cup is decorated with a commercial gold lustre which actually contains the same gold as what you see on the periodic table - real gold - in a dissolved essence. After looking at Sacred Earth Medicine’s label, I felt it would be a beautiful and appropriate aesthetic on the cups. The gold lustre comes in a tiny bottle and must be handled carefully while applying with a small brush. Since the melting point is much lower, the final (3rd) firing of these cups is to 800 degrees C, which melts the gold into the glazed surface and bonds it permanently. Because it is real gold, please don’t microwave your cup!

Oh yes, that’s an important point thanks Ben! But to be honest, I truly hope no one would be crazy enough to microwave their ceremonial cacao anyway!

What inspires you when it comes to the creative process?

Nature is a big influence and muse for me! I’m blessed to have a beautiful mountaintop studio surrounded by National Park rainforest. This is a wonderland of beautiful creeks, waterfalls and natural springs that are so rich in natural beauty and colour, so inspiration is endless!

What do you create at Wild Nature Clay?

Well, apart from sacred ceremonial cacao cups, everything really, from wheel thrown pottery, hand building and sculpture work, handmade sinks to making dinner ware for personal and restaurant use.

If people want to connect with you, where can they find you?

Visit my website www.wildnatureclay.com.au or follow my Instagram page @wildnatureclay

Wow! Ben, thank you so much for sharing your amazing story with us and for creating such amazing high vibe ceremonial cups. We love them!!

We are super excited to share these beautiful clay creations with you, dear reader. We know many of you have been asking for these for years and now they are finally, finally here, we couldn’t be happier with them! We trust you’ll love them as much as we do!

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We feel super blessed to have commissioned local ceramic artist Ben Ruble craft our new, exquisite, hand crafted, wild harvested Ceremonial Cacao cups! They come in small and large, and we wholeheartedly believe they are the perfect accompaniment to make your daily ceremonial cacao an even more sacred experience!