Theobroma Cacao, or “Ka’kau” as it is known in the Mayan language is a tree native to the tropical regions of the Americas. Its fruit has been considered sacred by the Maya and Aztec for hundreds of years.
It was so highly regarded that the Mayans adopted it as their official means of currency, trading the beans much the same as we use money today.
Now that’s a currency we should get behind.
Jam-packed with essential nutrients and feel-good chemicals, its no wonder this plant was considered sacred. So sacred in fact, that its consumption was reserved for royalty. Even today, chocolate is considered a sentiment of love and strikes memories of joy in all those who have enjoyed it.
But there is more to this wonderful plant than meets the taste buds. When used in its pure form, cacao can be a tool for spiritual transformation and expression.
I was first introduced to the ceremonial usage of cacao during a pilgrimage to Peru. Having heard from fellow travelers of the transformational qualities of the medicine, I knew I had to investigate for myself.
I can honestly say that experience has changed my entire relationship with chocolate. It has allowed to open my heart, process emotions, and develop a deeper connection with my creativity. I now use it at least weekly, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the positivity it has brought to my life.
My favorite thing about cacao is that you don’t need to travel to some faraway land to experience the medicine. (although there’s something to be said about that in itself.) With the right supplies and intention, you can easily hold your own cacao ceremonies at home or in nature.
Before we get into the sacred side of things, lets explore some of the health benefits it has:
Health Benefits of Cacao
- It has 40x the antioxidant content of blueberries. Blueberries have an ORAC score of 2,400/100g compared to 98,000/100g in cacao.
- Highest plant-based source of Iron 7.3mg/100g. Spinach comes in at 3.8mg/100g with beef a mere 2.5/100g
- Full of magnesium which helps turn glucose into energy, allowing sharper focus and clarity.
- It has more calcium than cows milk. 160mg/100g vs. 125mg/100ml of milk.
- Is a natural mood enhancer thanks to its plethora of bliss commencing chemicals (serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine, anandamide) which are associated with cozy feelings of well-being and happiness.
- Has theobromine which is a natural stimulant related to caffeine.
- Its flavanols are anti-inflammatory and are heart protective.
- Has a high sulfur content which aids the production of keratin and collagen, the building blocks of our skin, nails, and hair.
- It is the only other source of phenylethylamine (besides blue-green algae). This known aphrodisiac is released in the body during moments of intimacy and falling in love.
Now that we have explored some of the physical benefits of this wonderful plant, lets dive into some of its spiritual benefits.
Spiritual Benefits of Cacao
- Opens creative channels, allowing freedom of expression in a multitude of art forms.
- Enhances meditation practice, bringing you deeper into the present moment with greater ease.
- It provides an opportunity to process and release old traumas and worn out patterns.
- When used in group settings, it brings people together, strengthening connections and sparking new ones.
- Connects you to the divine mother earth, grounding your energy.
- It is a great way to experiment with plant-medicine that is not psychedelic.
- It opens you up to shamanic practices and wisdom.
While one can easily enjoy the physical benefits of cacao by simply consuming it, in order to reap the sacred spiritual qualities of the plant we need to set our intentions and approach it with respect, similar to the Native Americans who have been doing so for hundreds of years.
How to hold your own cacao ceremony.
There are no real right or wrong ways to orchestrate the ceremony, as long as it is done with intention and respect, you are bound to have an enlightening experience.
Some people prefer to share the medicine in song circles, sharing with the community each their musical expression. Cacao is a great heart opening medicine that loves the expressiveness of song.
Others may fancy magic to compliment a night of ecstatic dance and movement, while some simply marinate in its magic during bouts of deep meditation.
My personal favorite would have to be in conjunction with my yoga practice. Once I began utilizing cacao ceremonies before stepping on the mat, my connection to source has never been stronger. Cacao really is magical stuff.
To get started:
- Make sure the cacao you are using is of very high quality, ideally ceremonial grade, organic, and raw. Not only does this ensure you are getting the maximum return of investment, you are also supporting the farmers who work hard to grow and share this wonderful crop with the world, and avoiding any nasty pesticides they use to treat the plant.
- Find a setting where you will hold your little ceremony. This can be in your meditation area, outside in nature, or wherever you feel most cozy.
- Prepare in advance, allowing your mind to gather itself for the experience ahead.
- Set an intention. This could anything from enjoying the day ahead, to healing old traumas or welcoming new positive energies into your life.
- Keep a journal to record your experience for future reflection. (Optional)
Prepare the cacao
- Boil 250ml of water for each person.
- Chop the ceremonial cacao paste into chunks, 1-2oz per person. During this step, I like to begin imbuing positive thoughts and energy into the cacao, sometimes through song.
- Add the water to the cacao and stir until well blended.
- Add a pinch of cayenne pepper. (this activates the magic)
- Add any additional sweeteners and spices like maple syrup, cinnamon, or cardamom. (optional)
Helpful tip: I like to keep a spoon or whisk handy to stir my cup during the ceremony. A lot of the goodies like to settle to the bottom.
Start the ceremony
- Start by opening the space with gratitude for the cacao. Giving thanks to the medicine will bring you closer to its spirit, allowing the connection to blossom. You can also open space by burning sage to cleanse the area and invite new energy into the ceremony.
- State your intention. If you’re in a group, this is a good time to share a little prayer or song.
- Begin to smell the aroma of the medicine, allowing yourself to become fully engulfed in the moment.
- Drink the medicine in small, mindful sips, savoring each one.
- Once you have finished your cup, sit silently for a period of time, honoring this time with the cacao while meditating on your intention.
- Have fun with it! Enjoy this blissful state by engaging in art, practicing yoga, meditating, or exploring some time in nature!
End the ceremony
It’s important to close the sacred space and give thanks once more to the cacao spirit for its teachings, gifts, and health benefits. At this point in my session I like to record my experience in a journal, or if I’m in a group setting, have people take turns sharing a little bit about their personal accounts with the medicine.
Cacao has helped me in so many positive ways, I’d need a whole series of posts just to give it the gratitude it deserves. It has helped me develop my yoga practise, my writing habits, enhanced my dancing experience, and has allowed me to process so many old patterns. I am so forever thankful for this medicine
If you decide to dabble in the sacred side of chocolate, I want to hear about your experience. Send me a message on my facebook page about what you think! It has helped change my life, and I know it has the potential to help you as well.