Book Excerpt: “Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing” by Jennifer Engrácio

Book Excerpt: “Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing” by Jennifer Engrácio

June, 2017

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing”


(available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Balboa Press, Chapters/Indigo).


In general, we tend to tell and remember stories of the dark side of human lives. When someone’s shadow side is prevalent, few take the time to look deeper to see that person’s true essence and shining. This was the case with my ancestors. I tell [the forthcoming stories in this book] from a light side not to excuse any addict’s behaviour or to minimize the pain they cause themselves and others through their addiction but to shine attention on a different perspective. I do not blame my ancestors or hold any resentment toward them for the decisions they made. My own healing depended, in the end, in accepting all that had passed: I forgave myself and others.

People tend to treat addicts with everything from pity to disgust. All addicts are trying to soothe and cope with pain and emotional trauma of some sort. I want to highlight these people as survivors who have made choices that enabled them to keep living. I understand that we are each responsible for our own actions, thoughts, feelings, and words. I hope that this book shows the complexity of addiction and the inner world of an addicted person. I pray for a compassionate approach toward addicts and the people who live with them.

During [a] Family Tree Ceremony, I found out things about my family members that I didn’t know.  I found power stories inside places of abuse, addiction, and violence that I didn’t expect to find.  I saw my family members in a new way.  Creating the draft of the family trees of both my parents’ lineages made me realize how many people had to live their lives and go on their journey simply for me to be born. This was extremely humbling.  

I wondered how many people came before my great grandparents that I didn’t get to know but that also contributed to my being here at this point in time in a body.  It helped me to see that the way I live my life and the choices I make really do impact the generations ahead of me and behind me in a visceral way.  The gifts my family passed on are of open-heartedness and care for one another–through all kinds of challenges as well as the good times.  Seeing how all the generations worked together to make sure we all survived was really good for my heart.  To know the conditions they were living in and that they all made it, however fragmented they were inside, is a testament to their strength and determination.

Another thing that struck me was how much courage it must have taken my relatives to move to other countries where they knew few, if any, people before the revolution in Portugal in 1974.  They moved to Canada, Brazil, and South Africa.  It was also neat to see this new generation coming and leaving space for babies that have yet to be born and spouses that have yet to join our family thread. As I added the spouses, I could see that their family lineages were now joined to ours as well and that has been an interesting point of reflection.  If we joined everyone’s family trees in the world, would we all be connected somehow?  It seems endless, the points of connection. Perhaps in a more real way than we think, we are indeed all relations and not separate at all…

I once read the words of a First Nations Grandmother whose name I now forget that have stuck with me to this day: “We were all in our Grandmother’s womb.” I thought about that for a long while: How could that be? Then it occurred to me: My mom and all of her eggs were in my grandma’s womb when she carried her for nine months. One of those eggs became me. In teasing out the trauma that is handed down in cellular memory, it started to make sense to me how I could still experience the traumas of my ancestors and the role my own addiction to food played in toning down that pain. It started to dawn on me that everything my ancestors did impacted me as well. And everything I did, as an ancestor of the future, would impact my nieces, nephews, and children’s children. This was a huge motivation for me to heal this aspect of myself. Each time I do ceremony, I am aware that I am not only healing myself but the seven generations behind me and the seven ahead. This is extremely humbling and empowering.



Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

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