The Sacred Power of Cacao

Who doesn’t love chocolate? The sweet, brown-colored treat sold in stores all over the world is an all time favorite to treat ourselves on rainy days and is known to boost our mood. But did you know that the main ingredient in chocolate, cacao, has much more benefits than just your average sugary chocolate bar and is being used in sacred ceremonial settings since ancient times to enhance connection to Mother Earth and invoke feelings of ecstasy?

What is cacao?

Cacao is a sacred plant found in Central and South America. Its seeds are used for the making of cacao beans, cacao butter and chocolate. The raw beans in itself taste very different than the purple-packaged Milka products found in the supermarket. Also the cacao that is being used in ceremonies differs in taste from the regular chocolate we eat. ‘Real‘ cacao tastes actually very bitter and is high in iron, magnesium, antioxidants and  B-vitamins. 

The natural plant medicine has been used for thousands of years in the Mayan culture of South America for medicinal, spiritual and ceremonial purposes. In Mayan tradition, the word cacao is literally translated as “heart blood“, emphasizing the importance the plant possesses in their culture. Cacao has been known to open our hearts, but later more on that. 

What are the effects and benefits?

Cacao is not just a delicious drink, but the cacao beans contain a psychoactive ingredient called theobromine, which translates to “food of the Gods“. Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid which has been shown to be mildly stimulating, giving you a burst of energy and improving focus as well as memory storage. 

Cacao also increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain as well as induces the release of endorphins and dopamine, our feel-good hormones. As a result, we are happier and our creativity is reaching peak states.

Since ancient times cacao has been used as a medicine to heal physical, mental and spiritual illnesses. Cacao has been shown to boost the immune system and lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as leading to euphoria and deeper spiritual connection.

What to expect during a cacao ceremony?

If you have never attended a cacao ceremony, you definitely should. It is a beautiful journey to get in touch with your higher self and to open your heart, to deeply connect to your true essence and others around you. Cacao ceremonies are a form of shamanic healing and have their roots in indigenous cultures of South America, just like the cacao plant itself. 

It’s important to have a safe and experienced facilitator guiding you through the process. A cacao ceremony is a beautiful connecting journey and very different from having a cup of hot chocolate at home. However, don’t expect to hallucinate during a cacao ceremony or to have an out-of-body experience. The cacao works more gently on your body, mind and heart, rebalancing your energies to restore the body to its natural state of optimal health.  

Every cacao ceremony is different, some consist of sitting in circles, sharing and singing, while others call for meditation, intention setting and inner reflection and yet others end in ecstatic dance to express your innermost self. The important thing is that the ceremony gives you space to safely connect and to open your heart. 

How can cacao open (and heal) our hearts?

Already ancient Mayan texts described the cacao ceremony to be “heart opening”.  Modern research also shows that the active cacao ingredient theobromine is able to widen the blood vessels and stimulates specifically the heart. But this is only the scientific explanation of a deeply spiritual inward journey. 

Cacao aims at gently touching and opening up the emotional center of our body – our heart chakra. The medicine works specifically by bringing us back to the feeling of love, oneness and connection. We turn into our true and authentic selves, and are able to listen deep within to the deepest callings of our heart. This opens up the space to deeply connect to our higher path and our innermost self as we tap into the profound power and wisdom stored within each of us. 

Within a ceremony, the medicine is also often used to help you change your perspective, enabling you to recognize and let go of limiting beliefs, outdated patterns, past traumas and old habits that do not serve you any longer. With the help the cacao you will be able to open your heart completely, releasing and healing the energetic blockages that keep you away from living up to your highest potential. Sometimes a cacao ceremony can lead to making profound changes in the way we live our lives.

Next to the heart opening potential, the sacred medicine is also known to balance our inner male and female energies. No matter our gender, we all have a male and female side in us. When imbalanced, these energies can lead to energetic blocks and keep us away from the life we are meant to be living. Cacao gently balances our inner male and female energies, allowing us to live life more effective, filled with complete harmony.

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