Sacred Cacao Ceremony
What is Cacao
Cacao is what chocolate is made from! It is the seed of the tropical fruit known as Theobroma Cacao. Chocolate is made by combining certain portions of cocoa powder (the de-fatted cacao) and cacao butter (the fat from the bean) along with other ingredients to get the consistency and taste we know as chocolate. At Red Cedar Studio, I use the term 'cacao' to refer to the the purest form of cacao, that which has nothing removed, and only very specific ingredients added with intention. The fruit is harvested when ripe then fermented and dried; this process alkalizes the beans and activates the beneficial compounds within. Then they are roasted which finishes the flavour and kills the bacteria that accumulates during the fermentation phase. After this, the husks are removed and the nibs are finely ground, tempered and moulded.
Many ancient cultures including the Aztecs and Myans held ceremony using cacao; for centuries it has been used to heal the mental, physical and spiritual body. Cacao is naturally high in iron, magnesium, and B-complex vitamins. It also triggers a release of dopamine, endorphins and anandamide (the 'bliss molecule') in the body when consumed. These physical effects boost our mood and our energy (both the amount of energy that we have and the frequency of that energy in the body). These effects can create a heart opening sensation which can feel spiritual in nature, offering us the opportunity to listen to our heart and re-connect with ourselves and others with more ease. Cacao can also facilitate meditation, allowing the mind to quiet and the body to observe the present moment. This practice can strengthen our connection to our greater selves and/or to our higher power. Whether we identify as male or female, both genders (and any fluid genders in between) have masculine and feminine energies. The masculine energy is giving, disciplined, focused, present and aware. The feminine energy is receiving, movement, creativity, change and feelings. In our present day world where masculine tendencies are highly valued and therefore often prioritized in our lives, cacao helps us to embrace our feminine which can end up being suppressed over time. And with cacao being beautiful and feminine in nature, she reminds us to have fun! This is not meant to be a solemn or serious ceremony, it is meant to be filled with joy and unconditional love. Cacao is not a destination, it is a bridge.
Many of us may participate in modern day ceremony, either hosting or attending meals or parties to bring people together in celebration of events such as birthdays or holidays. In their purest spirit (gratitude, celebration of abundance or achievement, coming of age, etc.) these types of gatherings are no different than the spirit of a cacao ceremony. In practice, a cacao ceremony looks different because we are returning to ancient traditions, using a beautiful and gentle plant medicine as part of the experience. Note that cacao is not a hallucinogen!
What Is Involved
It depends on what the goal of the ceremony is! A healing ceremony will look very different from a birthday celebration which will look very different from an opening to an ecstatic dance party. Cacao is not a destination, it is a bridge. In all cases the goal is to surrender, to soften, to welcome the Goddess of Cacao into our beings, to embrace our Divine Feminine, and to open our hearts and connect to each other and to the earth.