Cacao Plant MedicineMay 02, 2022
Cacao is a magical, mystical, and medicinal plant that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is known that use of cacao in ceremony dates back to ancient Mayan and Aztec culture and other indigenous peoples of Central America. Unlike other plant medicines that are receiving a boat load of notoriety like psilocybin and ayahuasca, cacao does not produce hallucinogenic effects [but there is a psychoactive component!]. Despite the absence of hallucination, Cacao is a dynamic + compassionate medicine that does produce powerful, life enhancing experiences.
There are several compounds in cacao that create a gentle yet potent experience. Theobromine is the psychoactive ingredient and is a vasodilator, meaning it accelerates the blood throughout the body and the heart. This is one of the reasons that cacao is deemed a “heart opening” medicine. When our blood is flowing swiftly + freely, our mind, body, and spirit, benefit greatly because our blood carries oxygen and nutrients to every nook and cranny of our physical bodies.
Another chemical aspect of cacao [and one of my personal faves!] is the component called anandamide, which is lovingly known as the “Bliss Molecule”. This neurotransmitter is responsible for invoking feelings of euphoria + joy by inviting our bodies natural anti-depressant system to become activated! This being said, cacao is contraindicated for people using MAOI and SSRI antidepressants. If you’re interested in working with this majestic plant and you’re currently prescribed antidepressants, it is highly recommended that you consult with your primary care physician beforehand.
So what exactly is a cacao ceremony? What transpires? Do we all get naked, dance around a fire, and howl at the moon?! Not necessarily, but If that’s your bag baby, then hell yes!! Do you!! Know that each practitioner and space holder of the Spirit of Sacao will have their own unique way of conducting the ceremony. Most ceremonies will offer a description so you know what you’re getting into, but here’s a generalized idea of what you could expect:
A cacao ceremony can last anywhere from a couple of hours to several. The person facilitating the ceremony will likely have already prepared the ceremonial cacao drink and each participant will get their very own cup filled with the warm, chocolatey goodness [approx 7 oz per person]. Most ceremonies begin with the curator sharing about how they themselves came to know cacao and share a bit about the ancient plant.
Oftentimes there is a meditation or visualization exercise. This [in my humble opinion] is an integral part of the experience. The Spirit of Cacao is a beautiful, kind shamanic energy that really allows for exploration of self, amplification of heart chakra energy, and connection to Source/God; Therefore, being led on a meditative journey really deepens one's cacao experience.
Also, don’t be surprised if you have an emotional release of some kind, big or small. I’ve found that cacao allows me to release or receive something vital to my soul’s growth. Tears, laughter, joy, profound feelings of love and connection, moving through grief… Everyone's experience is unique and depending on the structure of the ceremony and the container + intention the practitioner sets, can really influence what comes up for you. There is no right or wrong. Just like receiving energy work like Reiki, Crystal Healing, EFT, etc. each time is special + unique to where you are currently at energetically and what is going on in your life.
After a meditation or visualization, there may be time for some light journaling and expressing [if you choose] what came up for you during. Some cacao ceremonies break people up into groups and have the groups work together and share on a topic or exercise. I’ve participated in ceremonies that have ecstatic dance - this is a super dope way to move stagnant energy in the body and really honor the cacao running through your veins, fueling your muscles + mind + spirit.
The cacao ritual usually concludes with offering gratitude, reflection, or prayer. It is encouraged to eat a dense meal afterwards. This helps to ground you back into your body, as well as nourish yourself. Drink lots of water to help continue the energy to move, expand, and release.
Like I said, no two ceremonies will be the same. So always coming with an open mind + heart to a sacred cacao ceremony is of the utmost importance. This is a great way to flex your loving kindness muscle, so that you may be in harmony with yourself and whomever is participating. Releasing expectations allows you to absorb what the Cacao Spirit has for you, leaving behind what no longer serves you to be transmitted to love and light, and be in community with other beautiful human beings.
The Spirit of Cacao has something for everyone; it’s time you discover what gifts await you.