Like most women, I LOVE chocolate. There aren?t many days that go by where I don?t indulge in a square, or two.
Back when I was working my soul-sucking 9?5 in the fashion industry, one of the three of my desk drawers was filled with sugary and salty snacks.
There were many days where I?d be deep into a giant bag of cadbury?s chocolate buttons, well before 10am.
The first time I heard about cacao was while I was travelling in Bali. My first thought was that it can?t be too different to the Dairy Milk chocolate I know and love back home in the UK.
But when I tried my first sip of hot cacao, I knew I was mistaken.
What many of us in the west come to know and love as chocolate, is worlds apart from the plant medicine its made from, and the ancient history that cacao has rooted in Central and South America.
The more I learn, the more my eyes are opened to how countries like the UK & the US take beautiful traditions from the world, and commercialize the fuck out of them.
So here?s what cacao actually is, a little bit about its story, and the many healing properties of it. I?ll also share with you how you can create your very own sacred cacao ceremony at home!
What is cacao?
Cacao has been used in ancient ceremonies by South Americans (the Maya) for thousands of years. It has an active ingredient in it called theobromine ? which can be translated to, ?Food of the Gods?.
So it makes sense that cacao was given its sacred status, and enjoyed in communal ceremonies by the Maya with their Gods.
The word cacao actually came from the Maya word Ka?kau, and the Maya word Chokola?j ? which means to drink chocolate together.
You probably already know that cacao comes from the cacao bean ? which is also used to make chocolate.
But the cacao plant is seen as a medicinal plant, and has been used for a number of spiritual, medicinal and ceremonial purposes throughout history.
It?s different to chocolate!
Like I mentioned, cacao has a very different taste to the chocolate you?re probably used to.
Milk chocolate usually only contains around 20?40% cacao, with milk and sugar making up the rest of the ingredients. Ritual cacao is made from mostly cacao beans, some water, cacao butter, and then mixed with a little bit of natural sugar to taste.
It is always consumed in a warm liquid form out of a cup or mug, and usually has a very bitter taste to it. Different spices can be added such as chilli, cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla, depending on what you like.
So when they say that eating chocolate is basically the same as eating a salad, because it comes from a plant ? that?s true, but only when it comes to raw cacao, and not your typical selection box.
Cacao is naturally high in iron, magnesium, and B-complex vitamins ? which gives it a number of physical benefits as well as the spiritual benefits it has long been connected with.
What can you expect from a cacao ceremony?
Shamanic healing is one of the oldest holistic healing practices, which has been used by ancient cultures worldwide for centuries.
Cacao ceremonies are actually a type of shamanic healing, but they don?t have hallucinogenic or ?out of body? effects, unlike some of the other shamanic experiences.
Cacao ceremonies are rooted in helping to rebalance the energies within us, and restore good health.
There are so many different ceremonies in existence today. Some will lead you a journey of dance, while others will center on meditation and inner reflection.
Many cacao ceremonies will involve a group of people sitting in a sacred circle, taking prayer, and setting intentions to be received. Each person shares what they want to let go of, and what they are calling into their hearts.
This often involves opening up to complete strangers in the circle, and creates a safe and intimate space where everyone?s fears, hopes, sufferings, and dreams can be shared.
What we often find is that most of us humans have very similar problems and fears, as well as hopes for our lives. This means that the people in the circle act as a mirror for each other.
The ceremony the ends in dance, which allows the cacao to activate within the heart and body, and create transformation.
Through opening the heart, cacao enables us to hear our true self, work through blockages and past traumas, dissolve any pent up negative energy, and help us align with who we truly are.
It?s also a wonderful time to give ourselves mental and physical space and peace. You get to switch off, and retreat inwards, helping you to learn more about yourself, and gain clarity on where you are and where you?re headed.
As mentioned above, cacao is packed with vitamins and minerals that are great for cardiovascular health. Cacao is also renowned for releasing dopamine and endorphins in the body, which soothe symptoms of PMS as well as depression, by boosting our mood.
Cacao contains anandamide, which is known as the bliss molecule. This is the same thing produced in your body when you workout and you feel a rush of good energy.
Plus, it helps to balance blood sugar levels, and create more blood flow to the brain ? helping to strengthen awareness and focus. It?s also naturally packed with caffeine, which acts as a burst of energy, and is said to enhance creativit, as well as deep meditation.
For centuries, cacao has been used to heal the mental, physical, and spiritual body.
Emotional & spiritual benefits
Cacao is rich with emotional and spiritual benefits that have not only worked for ancient cultures, but also the new wave of people who are embracing cacao in the world today, and allowing it to open and heal them.
- Heart Opening
Known for opening the heart, cacao will allow you to connect with yourself, and others, in a deeper way than before. Any fear will be replaced with love and joy.
- Connection with your higher self
Your higher self can be whatever you believe it to be ? source, God/Goddess, light, or soul.
Cacao helps strengthen your connection to your higher self, which helps you connect to your inner power, strength, and truth.
You will find yourself exploring the pain that is plaguing you right now, and feel your way through it ? because it?s only when we allow ourselves to truly feel it, that we can let it go.
This will help you to live a happier, lighter life, where you don?t feel weighed down by your past. Releasing this pain makes space for more love and light to come in.
- Enhances and deepens meditation
You will be able to connect to your inner spirit, which will help you to explore meditation on a much deeper and spiritual level.
You will find you are able to focus and be in the present with more ease, and this will help you to live more fully in the moment in your life, bringing peace to your mind and soul.
- A pathway to creativity
Cacao is often used to bring inspiration and creativity together, and help you move past those inner blocks that are keeping you playing it safe, and not allowing your inner child to play.
You will find that new ideas and expressions of yourself flow to you with ease.
- Improved yoga practice
Because of the benefit cacao has on every level ? physical, mental, spiritual & emotional ? it lends itself extremely well to other practices that combine all of these elements, such as yoga and chi kung.
When you step onto the mat, you?l? find your practice easier, you?ll feel it deeper, and it will have a much more profound effect on you.
- Mental clarity
During these ceremonies, you will be reminded of everything that you are ? your skills, talents, and creative abilities ? and you will begin to let go of all the thoughts of everything you are not.
This will help you find balance in your life, as well as clarity in your mind, which will make your purpose clearer to you.
- Re-balance of your inner male & female energies
Male and female energies can be found co-existing within all of us, but often they are unbalanced. Some men have repressed their feminine energies, while some women have trouble connecting to their male energies, and vice versa.
This isn?t helped by the fact that the world is currently in a state of imbalance when it comes to the masculine and the feminine.
When you balance these energies within, you are able to live a more effective life, filled with complete harmony.
Feminine energy allows you to receive inspiration, while masculine energy helps you to act on it.
- Inner peace
Cacao can help to ease our everyday stresses and worries, as it encourages us to get more in tune with our positive, optimistic side.
This is vital when we?re trying to face difficulties and challenges that arise in our lives ? which they inevitably will, because as Buddhism states, all of life is suffering.
If there are things in your mind or your heart that are holding you back from living the beautiful life you?ve always dreamed of, cacao will help you get clearer on what these things are, and help you receive the strength to put them down, and pick up the things your self truly wants.
This will help you live a healthier life in body, as well as spirit.
- Career guidance
Maybe you?re in a job you hate, or you have no idea what your true calling is here on earth?
Cacao will help you gain clarity on your natural talents and strengths, connect with your creativity, and allow you to find your way to what lights up your soul.
When you?re in this state, creation and abundance will flow to you.
Cacao is a feminine power that can help you see that life is meant to be fun ? this is what we?re here for.
Allow yourself to fully surrender to this energy, and step into a higher dimension, where you realise that nothing here on earth is permanent, and all of life is simply a game to be enjoyed right here, right now.
How can cacao benefit you?
Learning to open our hearts is the most important thing we can do as human beings, This allows us to open wide to our true potential, be vulnerable, and embrace who our authentic selves.
It is through discovering who we really are, that we can reach our highest potential, and create the most beautiful life for ourselves, and those around us.
The more we connect to love and awareness in ourselves, the more we can make more loving and conscious choices for the greater good.
If you?d like to learn more about cacao ceremonies, there are many workshops and teachings that take place all around the world today.
Pick one that speaks to your soul, and calls you to it, and go with an open mind and heart.