What is cacao? Don’t you mean chocolate?
The word cacao originates from the Mayan words Ka’kau and Chokola’j – which translates to “drink chocolate together”. Cacao has been used in shamanic ceremonies across Central and South America for thousands of years. The indigenous cultures used it for rebalancing energies in the body, inner awakening, and healing.
Unlike other common shamanic journeys, cacao does not get you “high” or give you a psychedelic experience. Instead, it is used as a “heart-opener” that brings about euphoric states, emotional releases, and increased levels of presence.
Those of us that are a part of the western world often confuse cacao with cocoa. What is the difference you might ask? They both come from the same fruit pods that are filled with cacao beans. Pure cacao is roasted at very low temperatures or sun-dried to preserve the essential nutrients.
Cocoa is roasted at high temperatures and this processing changes the molecular structure of the bean. This results in reducing the nutritional value by up to 90%. This is what is used in our regular store-bought chocolate. When buying cacao, always look for sustainably grown and harvested cacao. You can trust that we source the highest quality ingredients and take the fuss out of you having to make your own.
What happens when we drink or eat cacao?
On a physical level, cacao is well known for releasing dopamine and endorphins in the body. It contains an abundance of theobromine, which opens up your blood vessels and can give you the feeling of a warm hug. More benefits are found in its high valeric acid content, which blocks the stress hormones and releases anandamide, known as the “bliss” molecule. Cacao also contains tryptophan and this increases the production of serotonin. All in all, cacao can act as a natural antidepressant and leave you feeling more positive, less fatigued, and in a heightened sense of creativity.
On a spiritual level, cacao is seen as a sacred plant medicine and is used as a type of shamanic healing. The active ingredient theobromine translates to “food of the gods”. In my own experience, I owe some of my deepest realizations to this work. For a long time, I was quite aloof to my own emotional state and cacao helped to open my heart and to feel more deeply. Cacao allowed me to create space from the busyness of life to become more calm, aware and have a deeper connection with my spirit.
How much do you drink?
A ceremonial dose of cacao is normally about 40g. If you are attending a cacao ceremony with us, we usually prepare it with some cayenne pepper and true cinnamon, just like the ancient Mayans used to do. Some ceremonial cacao is bitter, but ours is actually quite enjoyable just as it is – there is no need to add milk or a sweetener to enjoy its flavours. If you are looking to connect with cacao on your own at home, I recommend starting with 25g and working your way up. Listen to your body and intuition on what feels good for you.
Now, if you have never been in a cacao ceremony before, I highly recommend you participate in a guided group experience before purchasing any of our products. This makes sure you treat the medicine right, learn about its history and have the utmost best experience. Sitting in a room full of people with intention and sacred openness will make your own first cacao journey memorable and powerful.
In our cacao ceremonies, you will also be taught everything you need to know to conduct your own ceremonies at home with the same respect and honour for the cacao medicine.
As a refresher, you can always refer back to our ‘self-ceremony guide’.
Welcome to the journey of using cacao as medicine.
This blog post was written by Kaila from Thrive Counselling and edited by Mara from The Good Chocolatier.