Circled near close friends, my eyes closed, I listened to meditative instructions from the facilitator of my first cacao ceremony.
The ceremonial cacao, still slightly warm in my hands, looked a rust brown. More vibrant than coffee, but darker than tea.
With the normal skepticism of a scientifically-minded male, I went into the ceremony thinking little about what might happen.
Breathing a bit more deeply, the sensation of calm washed over me, groundedness dominated my awareness, and gratitude to be sitting with my friends overtook my feelings.
A Brief Primer On Ceremonial Cacao
If the name doesn’t clarify the use, ceremonial cacao is a special type of cacao that is used in ceremonial form within the context of a community of friends or individual practice.
The use of ceremonial grade cacao dates back to indigenous South American cultures, such as the Mayan civilization, that sought cacao for ceremonial and practical reasons.
Their term for theobromine (the main psychoactive ingredient in cacao) means “food of the Gods” in translated Mayan languages.
Wealthier individuals would consume the highest ceremonial grade cacao while beans and other parts of the cacao plant were utilized as currency across their nation state.
Modern westerners have seen the value of ceremony, community, and gathering together to set intentions, which is why ceremonial cacao has grown in popularity over the past decade.
Ceremonial Grade Cacao
Cacao is a compelling plant for many reasons, but has been overly processed and disturbed to meet the large demand for chocolate and cacao products.
Everyone from Nestle to Hershey’s and beyond has contributed to widespread deforestation in order to maintain a steady supply of cheap cacao.
Because so much of the cacao is processed and of poor quality, it is a minefield to find the ceremonial grade cacao.
The first step in finding cacao drinking chocolate is to focus on cacao paste versus the raw cacao powder.
All of the cacao powder products (which are the most common and popular) have the natural cacao fat stripped away and sold elsewhere.
Make sure you look for cacao paste as a main priority because the healthy cacao fats are a major carrier of benefits (not to mention it tastes creamier and more delicious!)
The second thing to look for with ceremonial cacao is the processing method. Many cacao processors will strip the fat from the cacao bean and then re-add it later.
We paid close attention to the development process when we sourced ceremonial grade cacao for VITALITY in the jungles of Peru.
The attention to detail and quality came through during our first Oyasin cacao ceremony in Austin, Texas with a group of our friends.
The third step is more intuition based and spiritually focused. It may sound woo woo…
Much of the value that goes into having cacao ceremonies comes from the intentions that we set and prayers we make.
This spiritual connection to the cacao plant is similar to what might occur during a traditional psychedelic experience, such as ayahuasca or psilocybin.
Given this spiritual nature, are you looking to buy ceremonial cacao from a source that has spiritual connection and intention in mind when crafting your product?
There are quite a few brands that sell cacao paste, but whether it is ceremonial cacao paste depends highly upon the craftsman and their intentions.
For each handmade batch of VITALITY ceremonial drinking cacao we say prayers and set intentions for the product so that all of the best energy goes straight to your cup.
We encourage you to add intentions and prayers with your own ceremonial cacao drinking chocolate.
We developed a guided cacao ceremony audio download to use with a group of friends in your community or by yourself (please excuse the rain!).
What to Expect From Ceremonial Cacao
We mentioned other plant medicines, such as ayahuasca and psilocybin, which are powerful entheogens and psychoactive substances.
Ceremonial grade cacao does not include any ingredient that is as powerful as these substances, but there are sensations specific to cacao.
One of the main psychoactive aspects of cacao is theobromine, which is a stimulant closely related to caffeine, but quite different.
In scientific terms, theobromine is a vasodilator meaning that it opens the blood vessels and allows great circulation. In fact, it opens blood vessels through the heart.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons many people consider cacao to be “heart opening”.
Especially when taken on an empty stomach, ceremonial cacao can create subtle sensations, increase visual acuity, and a greater mood.
All of these benefits may be amplified in the context of some type of ritual whether with other people or by yourself.
Connect With Yourself, Connect With Community
A major objective at Oyasin is to bring ceremony, social gathering, and ritual back into our lives.
As we have developed modern civilization and technology, we have advanced tremendously, but also lost part of our humanity.
Sitting around a circle with a group of friends, family, and community is powerful in a world where it is rare to do so.
Setting intentions, making prayers, and either sharing that with people or doing so alone, is deeply rewarding and enriching in our lives.
Ceremonial cacao provides us a perfect opportunity to reconnect with ourselves and community even for a short moment every day.
Share Your Cacao Ceremony
You can be a leader in the ceremonial cacao movement.
We have provided a detailed overview of the cacao ceremony here.
We have also developed a free audio download for cacao ceremonies for those who sign up using the link above.
We have handmade and crafted VITALITY ceremonial drinking cacao as well.
Please feel free to use any materials that you need in order to facilitate and begin your own ceremonies.
These gatherings will be deeply enriching for everyone involved.