What is a Cacao Ceremony?
In a Cacao ceremony, we drink a cup of Cacao mindfully with intention. Cacao has many amazing physical and energetic benefits for the human body, noticeably it contains psychoactive (not psychedelic) properties that can help us drop deeper into our heart space.
It is also an opportunity to invite the wisdom of the Cacao plant into our hearts, to deeply listen and connect with Mother Nature and her guidance.
Cacao ceremony can be observed in many different ways depending on the facilitator. It may be sharing a cup of Cacao in silence, in a circle, in meditation, in a social situation, or it can be combined with other wellness modalities such as yoga, dance, devotional chanting (kirtan), Shamanic journey, breathwork, or creative art work.
Brief history of Cacao
The name of the plant Theobroma Cacao was given by the scientist Carl von Linnaeus in 1753, and the word “Theobroma” means “food for the Gods”. Originally the Cacao plant comes from Central and South America, and now it is spread across the globe and planted typically in countries near the equator zone.
Back in ancient times, the Mayans were the first civilization that treasured Cacao as “food for the Gods” where Cacao was used in rituals and ceremonies for coming of age, marriage, birth, death and rebirth. The word Cacao originated from the Maya word Ka’kau’, as well as the word Chokola’j which means “to drink chocolate together”.
Cacao was used as currency in Central America and was called black gold. Later in the 16th century Cacao was brought to Spain and Europe, and in the 19th century, Van Houten developed a method to alkalize cacao and marked the beginning of the mass production of chocolate to be sold commercially.
What’s the difference between Cacao and cocoa?
The word “cocoa” describes the “dutching” process which defats and alkalizes cacao into a powder form with heat. A lot of key nutrients are lost during this industrial process. This is how most of us understand cocoa as chocolate these days.
Cacao refers to the whole bean. In a Cacao ceremony, ceremonial grade Cacao is used which is made from cacao beans grinded into a paste. Cacao in its original form may taste bitter and slightly sour depending on the soil that is planted in.
Physical benefits of Cacao
Cacao contains a high amount of antioxidants, minerals, and feel-good chemicals that can positively affect the body and mind, and therefore it is considered to be a superfood.
Blood circulation is accelerated up to 40% which explains the physical effects of feeling our hearts more. As Cacao is a diuretic and helps to gently detoxify the body, it is recommended to drink water before or after to help keep the body hydrated.
Key nutrients contained in Cacao include:
- Flavonoids (antioxidants): protect the cells and improve cardiac function
- Magnesium: relaxes muscles, calms the nerves, and raises brain function
- Theobromine: caffeine-like molecule that stimulates blood flow to the heart
- PEA (the love molecule): a neurotransmitter that is naturally released when we are in love, allowing us to enjoy the moment and to experience euphoria
- Anandamide (the bliss chemical): triggers feelings of happiness and relaxation
- MAO (Monoamine Oxidase) inhibitors: natural mood enhancer
- Serotonin (the happiness hormone): reduces anxiety and stress
- Oxytocin (the bonding hormone): promotes feelings of love and trust
Energetic properties of Cacao
As we invite the wisdom of the Cacao and Mother Nature into our hearts, some may refer the source of this wisdom as “Cacao Spirit” or “Mama Cacao”. Cacao helps us to reconnect with our deepest heart intelligence. She invites us to come back to a natural state of “being” and to the present moment. Her energy is gentle, loving and empowering.
What is a ceremonial dose of Cacao?
Typically a full ceremonial dose is 42g of Cacao and it is not recommended to consume more than that, as it will start to make the body sick (such as headache, nausea).
However, each person’s body constitution is different. Some guidelines provided by Serap Kara, founder of Cacao Mama, are:
- 8 to 10 gram to spark an activation
- 20 to 35 gram for a profound deep inner experience
- 42 gram as full ceremonial dose
In our Cacao ceremonies at Museflower Retreat & Spa, we prepare Cacao in a lighter dose around 15 gram for a gentle, heart-opening experience.
Though the number of grams serve as a guideline, the most important aspect of a Cacao ceremony is to set our intention. Depending on our intention and what we would like Cacao to support us with, the wisdom of Cacao will always meet us where we are.
Contraindications of Cacao
Full ceremonial doses of Cacao are not recommended for anybody taking antidepressants (as it contains MAO inhibitors), has a serious heart condition, very high blood pressure or suffers epilepsy. Please consult a doctor first if you plan to consume Cacao. Raw Cacao contains histamine. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and children should consider taking a smaller amount, as Cacao also contains caffeine. Dogs and animals should never be given any forms of chocolate including Cacao, as they lack the enzyme to metabolize theobromine which can be fatal.
The Art of Cacao by Serap Kara: https://www.cacaomama.com/