The natural world is full of beauty, sustenance, and healing if you only know where to look. For tens of thousands of years, human cultures around the globe had all of their needs met by plants, animals, and the natural resources that surrounded them. For medicine, they could find a finely stocked pharmacy in the roots, herbs, fungi, and trees all around them. People also discovered that certain plant medicines did not just heal toothaches and other physical ailments but also helped to open their hearts and minds in incredible ways as well. Due to this seemingly magical ability to heal mind, body and soul, these sacred plants often became the heart of many spiritual traditions. Today there is a rising tide of awareness about these sacred plants and their generous medicine. In fact, if you want to get in on some of this “magic,” Steven J. Levy is incorporating a cacao ceremony into his Sound meditation on Sept 28th.
What once might have been dismissed as superstition or something that hippies do, the science of human neurochemistry, physiology, and psychology is opening the door for the return of these rituals and their healing potential.
Cacao is one of many of those sacred plants that has been known for eons for its medicinal and healing properties. It has been used in ancient healing ceremonies by South Americans (specifically the Mayans) for thousands of years and yet, here in the west we have come to know and love cacao almost singularly as the origin of one of our much loved and revered treats – chocolate! Cacao is often referred to as the ‘Food of the Gods’ but not because of its sweetness but rather because of all of its divine medicinal properties.
Ritual cacao, which is actually less sweet and more bitter, is made from a combination of cacao beans, water, cacao butter, and then a little bit of natural sugar to taste. In some rituals, different spices can be added such as chili, cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla, depending on what you like.
Often times cacao ceremonies are rooted in the desire to open the heart, revitalize the senses and help to rebalance the energies within us. Often this will involve a group of people sitting in a sacred circle, taking prayer, and setting intentions. Usually each person is given the opportunity to share what they want to let go of and/or what they are calling into their hearts. Through opening the heart, cacao enables us to hear our true self, work through blockages and move past traumas, dissolve any pent up negative energy, and help us align with who we truly are.
Plus, from a purely scientific perspective, cacao has many quantifiable physical benefits. One medicinal benefit is that it helps to balance blood sugar levels while creating more blood flow to the brain — which in turn helps to strengthen awareness and focus. It’s also naturally packed with a little known stimulating ingredient – theobromine – which is in the same family as caffeine, however due to its alkalizing effects is much more gentle on the adrenal glands and overall nervous system. Some strains of cacao contain caffeine as well but what we use is from hand selected strains from Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize which have little to no caffeine. This type of cacao is more frequently recommended for “ceremonial” experiences, because it gives a smooth delivery of energy, is said to enhance creativity, and often aids in deepening one’s state of meditation.
Additionally, cacao is naturally high in iron, magnesium, and B-complex vitamins — and it is also renowned for releasing dopamine and endorphins in the body, which soothe symptoms of PMS as well as depression, by boosting our mood.
And the list doesn’t stop there…cacao contains anandamide, which is known as the bliss molecule. And while I don’t want to overwhelm you with science, anandamide is a naturally occurring arachidonic acid derivative, present in some foods and in mammalian brains, where it acts as a messenger molecule and plays a significant role in pain, depression, appetite, memory, and fertility. This is the same chemical that is produced in your body when you workout and feel a rush of good energy.
So as if that weren’t enough, the healing medicine of cacao can work with us to:
- Heart Opening
Known for opening the heart, cacao will allow you to connect with yourself, and others, in a deeper way than before. Any fear will be replaced with love and joy.
- Creating connection with your higher self
Your higher self can be whatever you believe it to be — source, God/Goddess, light, or soul.
Part of many ritual ceremonies like the ritual consumption of cacao is that you make space to explore what is happening for you right now, as well as to feel your way through it — because it’s only when we allow ourselves to truly feel, that we can truly let anything “go.”
- Enhances and deepens meditation
Settling down into the present moment and creating a time and space where you can connect to your inner spirit can help you to explore meditation on a much deeper and spiritual level.
- A pathway to creativity
Cacao is often used to bring inspiration and creativity together, and to help you move past inner blocks so that you let new ideas and expressions of yourself flow to you with ease.
- Improved yoga practice
Because of the benefit cacao has on every level — physical, mental, spiritual and emotional — it lends itself extremely well to other practices that combine all of these elements, such as yoga and chi kung.
When you step onto the mat, you’ll find your practice easier, you’ll feel it deeper, and it will have a much more profound effect on you.
- Mental clarity
During these ceremonies, you will be reminded of everything that you are — your skills, talents, and creative abilities — and you will begin to let go of all the thoughts of everything you are not.
This will help you find balance in your life, as well as clarity in your mind, which will make your purpose clearer to you.
- Re-balance of your inner male & female energies
Male and female energies can be found co-existing within all of us, but often they are unbalanced. Some men have repressed their feminine energies, while some women have trouble connecting to their male energies, and vice versa.
This isn’t helped by the fact that the world is currently in a state of imbalance when it comes to the masculine and the feminine.
When you balance these energies within, you are able to live a more effective life, filled with complete harmony.
Feminine energy allows you to receive inspiration, while masculine energy helps you to act on it.
- Inner peace
Cacao can help to ease our everyday stresses and worries, as it encourages us to get more in tune with our positive, optimistic side.
This is vital when we’re trying to face difficulties and challenges that arise in our lives — which they inevitably will, because as Buddhism states, all of life is suffering.
If there are things in your mind or your heart that are holding you back from living the beautiful life you’ve always dreamed of, cacao will help you get clearer on what these things are, and help you receive the strength to put them down, and pick up the things your self truly wants.
This will help you live a healthier life in body, as well as spirit.
- Career guidance
Maybe you’re in a job you hate, or you have no idea what your true calling is here on earth?
Cacao is believed to help you gain clarity on your natural talents and strengths, connect with your creativity, and allow you to find your way to what lights up your soul.
When you’re in this state, creation and abundance will flow to you.
Cacao is a feminine power that can help you see that life is meant to be fun — this is what we’re here for.
Allow yourself to fully surrender to this energy, and step into a higher dimension, where you realize that nothing here on earth is permanent, and all of life is simply a game to be enjoyed right here, right now.