Hello dear friends!
If you’ve been following me on social media for a while, you may have noticed me writing about my private cacao ceremonies, and some of the insights I get from those experiences. I’ve had a few people ask me about them, and how they can also start working with this powerful medicine. So, if you’ve been curious about cacao, or how to use it in an intentional, spiritual way, this blog is for you!
The taking of plant medicines has long been a ceremonial tradition here on our planet. Connecting with our earth mother, and infusing our bodies with special foods and drinks can be a sacred experience. One of the most popular medicinal ceremonies, which is gaining popularity in the west, is the cacao ceremony. This is a powerfully heart-opening, ecstatic dance with the Divine, and is a wonderful event to take part in either solo, or with your friends. Through intention setting, honoring of the cacao spirits, and allowing yourself to relax into the euphoria, you can have a truly transformative time at this special ceremony.
You may be wondering what is so powerful about chocolate, anyway? The truth is, the kind of chocolate used in a cacao ceremony is not the kind of chocolate you’d pick up at your local grocery store. These commercial versions have been processed and flavored and otherwise changed from their original medicinal state. The raw cacao bean is quite intense and somewhat bitter, but filled with bioactive compounds that can create an altered state of mind, body, and soul. Cacao has been used for thousands of years in a ceremonial or ritual context, and is thought to work on the heart chakra, inciting feelings of intimacy, bliss, and connection.
Chocolate, aka Theobroma cacao, has a long and storied past, being used by ancient cultures of the Aztec and Mayan lineage (and other Central and South American tribes). The beans of the cacao pod were crushed up and often mixed with water or milk, and a variety of spices, set aside solely for the members of royalty. Cacao in its natural state, is packed with protein, healthy fats, and a whole host of bioactive compounds that even today’s best scientists cannot quite explain. However, two of the main players have been studied at length: theobromine (translates to “drink of the gods”) and theophylline (“love of the gods”). These alkaloids, along with many of the bioflavonoids in cacao, work to relax blood vessels, open the airways, focus the mind, and incite feelings of euphoria.
In many traditions, after cacao was made available to more than just the select royal family, a cacao ceremony would be presided over by a shaman or healer. People would gather in a sacred area, usually in a temple or other place of worship, and take the cacao journey together. Typically, the ceremony begins with mindful quiet, as the cacao is blessed and the spirit guides are called into the space. This time is for connecting with one’s higher self, and setting intentions for whatever wisdom or healing you wish to receive during the ceremony. The cacao is prepared in liquid form, kind of like a strong hot chocolate, and is poured for everyone to receive. One the cacao medicine is received, often drumming or other sacred music is played, to further enhance the altered state of being.
Cacao ceremonies are practiced in many areas of the world, bringing people together to honor the cacao gods, and celebrate the abundance their communities have received. These ceremonies were all about joy, connection, and gratitude, and even though the cacao is different from today’s modern chocolate, it still carries the energy of love, sensuality, and bounty. Many cacao ceremonies are lively events, and end up with a huge dance party! Others remain more contemplative, sometimes paired with a sound healing, crystal healing, or guided meditation journey.
There are many different ways to hold a cacao ceremony, and you can tailor the theme and events to suit your needs. The only real requirements for this type of ceremony is that the proper cacao is used, it is blessed with sacred intention, and is consumed with reverence. Many people like to host cacao ceremonies in groups, to please the cacao gods’ love of celebration. But I almost always practice mine alone, as a personal meditative practice. Because the ceremonial cacao is such a powerful heart-opener, you will have a meaningful experience whether you are surrounded by others, or you partake solo. Cacao will guide you on a journey into a place of joy, peace, and blissful awareness.
Side note: there are several reputable raw, ceremonial-grade cacao suppliers here in the U.S., but I’ve had good luck with Firefly Chocolate. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, but I love their products. Especially the tantric rose cacao blend!
Herbalist and author, Guido Masé, suggests the presence of the jaguar spirit animal in the cacao medicine. This powerful creature has long been revered by the tribes who first began using cacao, many eons ago. The jaguar is known as the “gatekeeper to the unknown,” and a valued guide for any kind of spiritual rebirth. Masé says we may wish to call cacao the jaguar’s food, because it is indeed “powerful, mysterious, nocturnal, and beautiful.”
Whether your cacao ceremony is a small, meditative event, or a large, lively one, the important thing is to connect with the spirit of the cacao plant, and the medicine it offers us. This can be a wonderful practice to plan on special occasions, on full or new moons, or any other time you want to get back in tune with your heart.
I personally love to sit down for a cacao journey when I’m feeling hurt, jealous, or notice my heart closing down. Because it’s such a wonderful heart chakra food, it can shift me out of a place of resentment, and into a place of trust and gratitude. And I definitely need that sometimes!
Have you ever participated in a cacao ceremony? What was your experience? I’d love to hear about it- tell me in the comments below!
And as always, my friends…
~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~