Recently cacao ceremonies have been being advertised everywhere, so in this article we'll explore the origins and benefits of a cacao ceremony, how to prepare ceremonial cacao, as well as the connection to ancient cultures and modern chocolate.
🌟 What Is Ceremonial Cacao?
All cacao comes from Theobroma cacao, an evergreen tree native to South America, and domesticated for thousands of years in Central America. Historically, cacao has been a highly-valued, sacred commodity.
While these days there are still some cacao ceremonies regularly held by native peoples, the modern cacao ceremony comes from a white guy named Keith.
Yeah, you read that right. But a bit more on Keith and his cacao ceremonies later on. Let's start with the most basic question— what is ceremonial cacao?
Ceremonial grade cacao is 100% ground cacao beans, imbued by the user with the power to connect with & center oneself.
But the truth about 'ceremonial' cacaos is that there's no single special quality that makes any one ceremonial cacao the proper one for a ceremony.
✔️ What Is A Cacao Ceremony?
For millennia, cacao was a highly-valued commodity that was widely treated like a sacred object, and even used as currency. While there are indigenous cacao ceremonies still conducted by native peoples today, the modern global cacao ceremony finds its roots in an American who moved to Guatemala in the early 2000's.
The founder of Keith's Cacao, now often called the 'Chocolate Shaman,' is that same American. Keith 'the Chocolate Shaman' didn't charge for his ceremonies for well over a decade, though you can now sign up for them like any other touristic experience in Guatemala.
By all accounts I've read, Keith's ceremonies use cacao as a medium for teaching mindful consumption and honoring the earth & the plant for what it has given us. In short, what a cacao ceremony does is to sell a lifestyle.
While there are surely many well-meaning people, there are also business people simply taking advantage of people's lack of understanding of cacao as a botanical and of the history of cacao ceremonies.
As one commenter has pointed out, there's also a certain level of cultural appropriation in even calling yourself a cacao "shaman" or cacao ceremony leader. In some cultures' traditions you must spent years, sometimes more than a decade, learning from the elders in your community and doing the grunt work in order to know every element of the ceremony.
You must participate in dozens if not hundreds of cacao ceremonies before you are allowed to call yourself a leader and be the one running an actual cacao ceremony. All this is not to say that any and all cacao ceremonies you've ever been to were a farce, but simply to inform you of the lack of connection to any specific historical tradition.
If you're looking to live a more thoughtful and reflective life, cacao may be one of the tools you choose to help you in that mindful journey. Having habits built into your day that promote self-reflection and understanding are important.
Just remember that the type of cacao you use for your ceremony isn't as important as how you use that cacao to connect with yourself and others. One of the most important things you can do to connect with the earth is to make sure you source your cacao ethically, preferably directly from the farmers themselves.
📋 How to Hold a Cacao Ceremony (Step-by-Step)
To hold a cacao ceremony, begin by sourcing high-quality, ceremonial-grade cacao, which is pure and typically less processed than regular chocolate. You can also start off by just using cacao paste.
Step 1) Create a quiet, comfortable space, which you may wish to enhance with elements such as candles, cushions, or incense to foster a sacred, relaxing atmosphere.
Step 2) Start a cacao ceremony by setting a clear intention. This could be for personal insight, healing, or connecting with the energy of cacao. Participants often sit in a circle to create a sense of unity and community.
Step 3) Prepare the cacao by heating water and mixing it with the cacao paste or powder. The ratio of cacao to water can vary, but a common starting point is about 1 ounce (28 grams) of cacao per cup of water. You may add spices like cinnamon or chili, or a sweetener, but keep it simple to honor the essence of the cacao.
Step 4) Once the cacao is prepared, pour it into individual cups. Before drinking, hold the cup with both hands, close your eyes, and take a moment to connect with your intention and express silent gratitude to the cacao plant.
Step 5) Drink the cacao slowly, savoring its taste and allowing its warmth to fill you. After drinking, participants typically engage in a meditative practice, which might involve guided meditation, gentle music, or quiet reflection to tune into the cacao's effects.
Step 6) As the cacao's energy begins to be felt, it's common for emotions to surface. Allow these feelings to flow without judgment. The facilitator may invite sharing from the group, where participants can express their thoughts and experiences.
Step 7) The ceremony closes with a gesture of gratitude and a moment to ground oneself, often followed by light movement or sharing food to help integrate the experience.
Step 8) Remember, a cacao ceremony is a personal journey and can be adapted to fit the needs and intentions of the group or individual. Cacao is as ceremonial and dripping with meaning as you allow it to be.
Whether you balance energies, open chakras, or just want to practice meditation through food, you may benefit from your own personal cacao ceremony. Just keep in mind that the best ceremonial cacao drink for you is the one you enjoy & connect with the most.
⭐ Cacao Ceremony Benefits
A cacao ceremony is a spiritual practice that has been part of some indigenous traditions in Central and South America for centuries. It is a sacred ritual that uses cacao, a plant revered for its heart-opening and healing properties, to facilitate a deep connection with one's self and the divine.
The Maya held an annual festival in April to honor the cacao god, Ek Chuah, which included chocolate beverages, blood-letting, and offerings to the deity. In a modern cacao ceremony, participants drink ceremonial-grade cacao with an intention to tap into its spiritual benefits.
Ceremonial-grade cacao is a pure form of chocolate that retains natural compounds in cacao that are believed to uplift mood, increase vitality, and promote a sense of well-being.
When you drink ceremonial cacao, it can stimulate the release of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in the brain, fostering a state of blissful clarity. The intention of a cacao ceremony is to create a sacred space where individuals can explore their emotions, release blockages, and connect deeply.
Regular cacao practice is said to have healing powers that extend beyond the emotional and spiritual. It is believed to improve cardiovascular health, thanks to cacao's high antioxidant content, and also to aid in reducing inflammation and decreasing stress levels.
🙋🏻♂️ Cacao Ceremony FAQ
When done right, ceremonial cacao helps you feel calm, focused, and in-the-moment.
A cacao ceremony is meant to be a space for mindful reflection, and connecting to one's own heart. If you're wondering what does ceremonial cacao do for the system, you should try one for yourself.
All cacao ceremonies have a few elements in common: the preparation of a sacred space, the preparation of the cacao beverage, and its mindful consumption. You can held your own cacao ceremony at home by combining these elements in whatever manner makes you feel most connected to yourself.
Cacao ceremonies are a form of meditation and self-reflection, and the benefits of this type of practice can include lower blood pressure, decreased stress levels, and overall increased sense of well-being.