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What is a cacao ceremony?

#January 25, 2023

Cacao ceremonies are a way of shamanic healing used for spiritual and medicinal purposes. Pure cacao is consumed for this sacred ritual to set intentions and open euphoric states. This ceremony aims to increase vitality, inner awakening, creative connection, uplifting mood, opening heart and manifesting many other spiritual intentions. This ritual is a communal activity performed within a sacred space involving various practices like praying, singing and dancing together as a group. 

The ceremonial cacao is different from the chocolate we buy from supermarkets. Ceremonies use the purest form of chocolate: cacao which is minimally processed and is prepared especially for the ceremony. These beans include magnesium, iron, calcium and B-complex vitamins. The special component of cacao is theobromine, a stimulant that expands blood vessels. To prepare the ceremonial cacao, the beans are toasted lightly to increase flavour and activate their properties, and then the skins are peeled by hand. The final step is grounding the beans in a heated mill, turning them into a thick paste or stone-grinding them. There can be different variations of the recipe, but the core elements are ground cacao, water, cacao butter, and natural sweetener such as honey. Different practitioners add more ingredients like healing herbs, nutmeg, cinnamon, rose, vanilla bean, or cayenne pepper. The ceremonial cacao served is thick, hot and bitter. 

The word cacao originates from the Mayan words “Ka’kau” (meaning heart blood) and “Chokola’j” (meaning to drink together). According to Mayan beliefs, cacao is one of the components used to create the human race. Mayan gods have bled onto the cacao pods and gifted cacao to humanity. Cacao in the scientific genus is called theobroma, which means the “food of the gods”. Many spiritual practitioners still use cacao to restore balance and connect with the divine, just as Mayans used it. Some areas Mayans used cacao were marriage ceremonies, births, baptisms, and funerals. Native cultures continue to hold cacao ceremonies as a communal experience to this day. This practice has also been adopted by the West and is practised individually at home. 

One or several trained facilitators prepares the cacao, hold the sacred space and host the cacao ceremony. Cacao ceremonies vary based on the preferences of the ceremony facilitator or shaman. Common features of most ceremonies include: sitting in a circle with a group of people, setting intentions, praying, singing and dancing together. It is overall an uplifting and heartfelt group experience. Different components such as ecstatic dance and sound healing can be incorporated into the ceremony. In this ceremony, a cacao beverage is consumed to facilitate and intensify spiritual rituals. Here is a guide through the cacao ceremony involving some common experiences you can expect:

  • A safe space is created with an altar in the middle. 
  • The group sits in a circle and introduces themselves and shares their intentions. 
  • The cacao is passed around the circle to everyone.
  • Honouring and blessing the cacao.
  • Setting the intention and drinking the cacao: After the cacao is served, the group is given a quiet moment to set their intentions. Some examples of intentions include empowerment, healing and clarity. The group is encouraged to be mindful and remain present while consuming the cacao. 
  • After drinking the cacao, the facilitator can use tools such as breathwork, meditation, sound journey, dance, music, yoga and inner processing to manifest the intentions and intensify the experience.
  • Closing the ceremony involves the integration of the experience and all the discoveries you have reached during the ceremony. 

Cacao is a very strong plant medicine with many benefits for people who open themselves up to try it. It can be used as a tool to release emotional blockages, open your heart and connect with yourself. Cacao’s mental, physical and spiritual health benefits help improve yourself in practices like yoga by boosting focus and clarity. Cacao Ceremonies can help you connect your inner spirit and deepen the meditation experience. One of the benefits of the Cacao Ceremony is facilitating mental clarity; you can connect with your skills, talents and creativity. Cacao ceremonies facilitate feelings of wholeness, ecstasy and love. These practices can be therapeutic, releasing energy blocks and helping people recognise the patterns they follow. In addition to all these benefits, this shamanic/spiritual journey cacao induces helps you to connect to your highest self and face your truth. Meditative states can be experienced as well, silencing the mind and finding a connection to inner wisdom. Your purposes in life can get clear in your head with this induced state. With the clarity you gain, your passions and goals will show themselves. Another contribution of cacao to spiritual well-being is claimed to be balancing male and female energy within. Everyone has these energies and when they are harmonised you can reach your full potential. Cacao is believed to promote shamanic journeying. This journey leads you to ancient wisdom and connects you with your spiritual guides. You can reach a state of bliss or flow so that you can manifest your goals. Cacao is famous for opening the heart and increasing your connection with others and your inner self. Love and joy can be experienced. 

Tempted to respond to a calling of cacao? Join our Cacao Ceremony Facilitator course to learn more about this sacred tradition and be able to organize your own ceremonies.


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