If you find yourself in the holistic health circles, you may have started to notice cacao ceremonies emerging as a way for communities to gather and experience healing and connection.
Apart from being a superfood with a wealth of health properties, cacao (or raw “chocolate”) is a powerful plant teacher that has been used for centuries for her spiritual and energetic properties.
While I would encourage you to participate in a group ceremony, it’s also incredibly powerful to create your own personal cacao ceremony. In this introductory article I’ll share my rituals for creating a cacao ceremony with the hopes that you can use it as a reference point for creating your own experience.
So… What is cacao?
Cacao’s scientific name is Theobroma cacao which translates to ‘food for the Gods’. Historically, cacao has been used in ceremony by the ancestors of Central America and later by the Aztecs and Mayas as a ritualistic medicine. In the mythologies of these people, cacao was often said to be derived from the heavens and gifted to the people.
Today, ceremonial grade cacao is a cacao that has been cultivated according to traditional methods with the intention of being used in ceremony. While most cacao has been hybridised for the chocolate industry and therefore has lost many of its beneficial properties, ceremonial cacao retains healing chemical properties as well as the spirit of cacao, whom I personally refer to as Lady Cacao.
What is a cacao ceremony?
I love the definition of ceremony as declaration. In my practice, ceremony traditionally involves creating a sacred environment, setting an intention and allowing an energetic process to unfold around that intention. Setting an intention is the most important part of cacao ceremony preparation. You could create an intention and ceremony to:
- Begin the day on a positive note
- Process an old wound
- Call in a new opportunity
- Connect more deeply to a creative outlet.
To identify your intention, answer one of the following questions to yourself:
- What do I want to release?
- What do I want to call in?
- What aspect of my healing journey am I honouring?
Because cacao is a ‘connection facilitator’, she aids in any transformational shift you are working towards. So the side effects of cacao ceremony can be quite powerful if you permit. Sometimes the intention can be as general as ‘open my heart to feel what it needs to feel’. Sometimes the intention of a cacao ceremony can be catered towards a specific goal such as expressing your soul through movement or healing a past trauma.
Once you have decided on your intention, here are the 5 steps to create your own sacred cacao ceremony:
1. Create A Sacred Space
Sacred space is a concept used to describe a space that is established for the intention of healing and connection. I love the tradition of establishing a sacred space because the physical details remind me that I am experiencing something deep and meaningful, and invite me to stay present in the moment. The good thing is – you can’t do it wrong!
Your sacred space can be anywhere – in nature, in a quite room in your home or any place that you’re able to host the ceremony and where you’ll feel safe and able to connect with your intention and energies in fullness.
Once you decide on a sacred space, you should clear any residual energy it currently holds. Some of my favourite ways to clear energy are to burn palo santo, sage, or any of the other sacred herbs.
Next, you can increase the vibration of the space by chanting or playing music. Other ideas to promote the vibration of your intention within the space can include lighting candles, setting up an altar, or calling in the four directions.
Be creative and most importantly, trust your intuition and create your own definition of sacred space.
2. Prepare The Cacao
Sacred cacao is often provided in raw blocks. It’s important to note that you acquire high-quality ceremonial grade cacao. The most direct source of sacred cacao is from the cacao shaman, Keith, in Guatemala. There are other fantastic distributors; I would encourage you to look around and read about the cacao you are purchasing to ensure it is harvested sustainably, traditionally, and with the intention of healing.
Sacred cacao recipe:
Notes: I prefer the taste of cacao in its bitter form, but you can add a sweetener if that’s your preference. You can adjust the cacao-to-water ratio based on your personal preference for consistency, however this is a nice ratio to start working with. As you begin working more and more with cacao, you may want to add other spices such as those suggested. Explore and experiment to your heart’s content!
- 1-2 oz of cacao
- Half a cup of water
- Pinch of chilli or cayenne pepper
- Sweetener such as honey or agave (optional)
- Spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, or vanilla (optional)
- Enter a meditative and reflective mindset as you chop the cacao into smaller pieces so that it can soften into hot water
- Heat the water to just before a boil and add the cacao shavings
- Use a whisk to stir until you find a smooth texture
- In accordance with tradition, add the pinch of chilli
- Add the sweetener any any other spices you are including.
3. Give Gratitude & Declare Your Intention
Giving gratitude is one of the most effective and immediate ways to enter the heart-space. It is also perhaps, the most powerful healer. Before drinking cacao I like to take the time to thank the rain and soil that cultivated the cacao plant, the hands that picked and dried the beans, the clean water which we have to drink, and so on. You could give gratitude for these things also and/or that which you are grateful for.
After giving gratitude, reaffirm your intention by asking cacao to help you. For example:
- “Cacao, allow me to work through the deep pain I am holding onto in my heart”
- “Cacao, help me express myself authentically in my yoga practice“.
Practice affirming your intentions out loud. Our voices are extremely powerful tools and you may notice energetic shifts as your words echo through your sacred space.
4. Drink The Cacao
Smell the aroma of the cacao before drinking it and then indulge in each sip, allowing the medicine to permeate through your body. You may feel the cacao immediately, or it may take around 20 minutes to begin feeling a buzz within your body. You will experience more blood flowing to your brain and your heart, and focus may become easier. Release expectations and listen to your body as energies begin to shift.
5. Activate Your Intention
Allow the energy of cacao and your intuition to take you where you need to go.
- If your intention is inner processing – you may find that you want to meditate, journal, or embark on a shamanic journey.
- If your intention is self-expression – you may want to sing, create music, or practice a movement modality.
There is no right way to access your soul. Allow cacao to enhance the experience that is meant for you, whether is hiking through the forest or allowing your artistic side to shine through.
Important Health Notes
- Do not consume caffeine or alcohol prior to cacao.
- Drink plenty of water, especially towards the end of your ceremony. If you find you have a headache you may be dehydrated, drank too much cacao, or are detoxing with cacao’s assistance.
- Cacao can’t be digested by dogs and some other pets, so make sure to keep it away from them. It can be fatal.
- Antidepressants with MAOIs contraindicate with cacao and can lead to severe headaches.
- Cacao is a vasodilator and pumps more blood through the heart. Be mindful of your dosage if you have a heart condition.
About Cacao Ceremony Training
If you want physical cacao ceremony training that’s definitely a possibility. However I invite you to first follow this process, see how it feels and what experience it provides you, and via the comments below, let me know how you go (and feel free to ask me any questions). From your own experience this will help you understand what exactly it is you want me training/guidance in, if at all.
Have you ever participated in a sacred cacao ceremony? Or have you got a question for me about hosting your own? Help inspire the thousands of women who visit CASA DE KARMA each month, by sharing your stories and questions in the comment section below. I can’t wait to hear from you.
P.S. Who do you know that might enjoy this guide to creating a cacao healing ceremony? Share it with them now, they’ll thank you for it later!