Everything you need to know about this powerful ANCIENT RITUAL
Cacao entered the modern wellness sphere some time ago. Nowadays, it’s pretty much an everyday ingredient, readily available in local supermarkets and included in all sorts of healthified desserts and snacks. We know it’s good for us and that it tastes delicious. But there’s a more powerful cacao trend bubbling up. Enter the cacao ceremony.
Like jade rollers, tracking the moon cycle, and even yoga, cacao ceremonies are an ancient practice that are just beginning to permeate into the mainstream. Drinking cacao during spiritual rituals dates back to Mayan and Aztec civilisations, who saw cacao as a gift from the gods. Today, an increasing number of people are exploring the potential of this potent beverage.
All of a sudden it seems like cacao is everywhere. Early-rising wellness influencer-types post snaps of cups of thick, dark and bubbly cacao, and rave about its transformative effects. Your favourite yoga studio (hello!) now frequently runs sell-out cacao ceremonies. You might have even spotted cacao make an appearance in an episode of Netflix’s Grace & Frankie.
If you’re curious about cacao and the benefits of this revered ‘heart medicine,’ read on for everything you need to know about cacao ceremonies:
What is Cacao?
Let’s start with the low hanging fruit: what actually is cacao? Well, every type of cacao or chocolate we eat comes from the fruit of the cacao tree. Cacao beans grow inside the fruit (or pod) on the tree. These are harvested, fermented (if its good quality cacao), dried, roasted, and peeled. This point is where cacao and chocolate go their separate ways.
From here, raw cacao is minimally processed into cacao nibs, butter, paste, and powder. Importantly, this is done without the use of heat.
Whereas, the beans destined to become chocolate are processed further, involving the application of heat, into pure liquid chocolate. This is high concentrated chocolate is often far too bitter for many people’s palates, which is where sugar and milk (or other fats) come in. Depending on the product being made, more or less of these are added in to make the kind of chocolate we know best.
What Are the Health Benefits of Cacao?
Whether or not it is consumed in a ceremonial setting, cacao has a wealth of physical health benefits. The less processed and more concentrated the cacao is, the more concentrated these benefits will be.
Cacao is rich in heart protective flavonoids, which have been shown to help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. It also stimulates the production of the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) serotonin, dopamine, anandamide and phenylethylamine. All four of these are known for improving mood and helping to alleviate depression.
Cacao is packed with minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, and phosphorus. It also contains Theobromine which is a known mood and energy booster, more on that below.
Does Cacao Contain Caffeine?
Love coffee but don’t love the jitters, anxiety and nausea it can trigger? Drinking cacao provides a longer-lasting, milder, and more pleasant source of energy.
While, raw cacao does contain a small amount of caffeine it’s also rich in a natural compound called theobromine. Theobromine has a mild stimulating and energising effect that also improves focus and concentration and mood – but won’t make you feel jittery the same way coffee does.
What Type of Cacao Do You Use for Cacao Rituals?
The type of cacao used for ceremonies is strictly raw cacao. It’s usually sold in a block form. If buying it yourself, seek out the best quality you can afford, from reliable and ethical sources.
The origin of the cacao you use for ceremonial purposes is important too. Cacao is a considered a sacred seed in certain parts of South America, and its potency is said to depend on its connection to the land. Dating back thousands of years, only certain tribes traditionally grew cacao, some of which still grow it today. A good cacao supplier will have an intimate connection with one of these tribes and source it directly.
What Happens at a Cacao Ceremony?
The act of using cacao drinks in rituals similar to cacao ceremonies goes as far back as the Aztecs and the Mayans. However, traditionally the cacao was just one part of a wider spiritual ceremony led by a spiritual guide.
It’s said that modern day dedicated ‘cacao ceremonies’ are actually a pretty new phenomenon. As such, they can take many formats, depending on the background of who’s leading the ceremony.
The one thing each cacao ritual has in common is the meditative preparing and consuming of cacao. After that, ceremonies differ. You’ll find ceremonies that involve ecstatic dance and others that are practiced in complete stillness, but often they’ll strike a balance somewhere in the middle.
Think chanting mantras, shamanic drumming, singing bowls, breath work, Reiki, or mindful movement. Some ceremonies might have a certain theme or intention, or are used in conjunction with celebrating specific seasonal occasions.
What are the Benefits of Cacao Ceremony?
Along with the science backed physical health benefits, described above, cacao is revered for its spiritual benefits too when consumed as part of a ceremony – some of which are more anecdotal.
Many people claim to experience heart-opening and mood-boosting effects, perhaps thanks to the flavonoids and other active compounds in cacao. When consumed in tandem with other spiritual practices cacao is said to help you drop into your heart space. You might feel a rush of loving energy and a deeper connection to yourself.
As cacao stimulates brain chemicals it can help people focus longer and deeper. This can help intensify your experience of the spiritual aspects of a cacao ceremony. Some people find they sink easily into a very deep meditative state. Others find the ceremony brings immense clarity, and that they see solutions to problems much more clearly.
Cacao has also long been linked with sensuality. This is because it increases blood flow, making you more sensitive to touch, and stimulates phenylethylamine, known as the love chemical. If the ceremony involves any tactile connection with others, or dancing and singing, cacao can help elevate that experience.
You can keep an eye on our schedule for upcoming Ceremonies and Alternative Events (Events & Workshop)
How Do You Practice a Cacao Ritual At Home?
You don’t have to go to a full-blown spiritual ceremony to get the benefits of cacao in your life. You can practice a cacao ritual at home outside a group setting too. This can be as simple and personal as you wish. From simply preparing cacao and sipping it mindfully, or pairing this experience with meditation, journalling or any other contemplative or spiritual practices you enjoy.
We have everything you need for your own personal ceremonies and rituals from handmade, ethical, pure Cacao, (Our Heros) beautiful trays and cups, to sage and ethically sources Palo Santo, stunning diaries and notebooks, candles and everything else in-between.
On a daily basis cacao can help provide intuition and benefit all parts of your life. Whether that’s greater insight in your morning meditation, or energising you for whatever life or creative goals you’re working towards that day. Oh, and we should say, it tastes pretty great too.