I experienced my first cacao ceremony while living in Ubud, Bali in 2018.
Cacao was something I was already familiar with, yet hadn’t gotten around to trying. But being in Bali felt like the perfect place to have my first taste.
A group of around thirty of us came together on the full moon; sharing what we were grateful for, meditating, and singing songs around a roaring open fire.
Our cacao had been lovingly prepared using only natural, organically grown ingredients; blended with some fresh coconut milk, palm sugar, and a few drops of essential oils.
We each took a cup, and held it in our hands as we blessed it, and gave thanks. And finally, I took my first sip. It wasn’t as sweet or as chocolatey as the hot chocolates I was used to drinking back home, but it was delicious. It warmed me, and felt nourishing and full of goodness.
This is cacao, and the gift of stepping into sacred ceremony.
So, I’m going to share with you what cacao actually is, where it comes from; and the many healing properties it holds for us on a physical and spiritual level.
I’ll also share with you how you can create your very own sacred cacao ceremony at home.
What is cacao?
What many of us in the west have come to know and love as chocolate, is worlds apart from the plant medicine it’s made from; and the ancient history rooted in Central and South America.
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 quite 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.
A cacao ceremony is actually a type of shamanic healing, but it doesn’t have hallucinogenic or “out of body” effects, unlike some other shamanic experiences.
Cacao ceremony is rooted in helping to re-balance 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 centre on meditation and inner reflection.
Many cacao ceremonies will involve a group of people sitting in a sacred circle, taking prayer, letting go of anything heavy, setting intentions, giving thanks for all the abundance in their life today.
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 we have 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.
A cacao ceremony will often end 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.
The physical benefits of cacao ceremony
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 creativity, and encourage deep meditation.
For centuries, cacao has been used to heal the mental, physical, and spiritual body.
The emotional & spiritual benefits of cacao ceremony
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.
Known for opening the heart, cacao will allow you to connect with yourself, and others, in a deeper way than before. Any fear that is currently taking hold of you, 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
Cacao ceremony will give you the opportunity 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. This will help you to live more fully in the moment today, bringing peace and stillness to your mind and soul.
A pathway to creativity
Cacao is often used to bring inspiration and creativity together; helping you move past those inner blocks that are keeping you disconnected from your creative life force, 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’ll find your practice easier, you’ll feel it deeper, and it will have a much more profound effect on you.
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.
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; as Buddhism states, all of life is suffering.
But when we feel at peace within, and understand that we are not our fears or problems, nothing can knock us off balance.
Are there things in your mind or heart holding you back from living the beautiful life you’ve always dreamed of?
Old wounds, or past traumas, that you don’t know exist, or you haven’t fully healed from.
Cacao will help you get clearer on what these things are; and help you receive the strength to move forward, let them go, and create space for better things to come in.
This will help you live a healthier life in body, as well as spirit.
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, and allow you to find your way to what lights up your soul; a job or business that fills you with purpose.
And when you’re in this state, creation and abundance will flow to you with ease.
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. Step into a higher dimension, where you realise that nothing here on earth is permanent.
All of life is simply a game to be enjoyed right here, right now
How to create your own cacao ceremony at home
- Purchase ceremonial grade cacao that has been ethically grown and harvested (you can find ready mixed blends if you prefer)
- Find (or buy) a heat-resistant mug or cup you love.
- Experiment with different blends of milk, sugar, and spices (try and keep everything plant based and organic where possible).
- Begin with some meditation or prayer
- Bless/give thanks for the cacao
- Let go of anything that needs releasing.
- Bring to mind all you have to celebrate (this works well on the full moon)
- Set new intentions (this is powerful around the new moon time).
- Sip your cacao, and enjoy every second of it. Feel your heart start to open.
- You might want to journal after, or sing or dance. Do what feels right in the moment.
- Close your ceremony by meditating or giving thanks once more.
Remember, when creating any kind of solo ceremony or ritual for yourself, trust your intuition and do what feels good for you.
Use the above as a guide, and don’t be afraid to weave in your own practices and spirituality into it.
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 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.