Updated: Feb 28
This post covers some basics on making and consuming Cacao, an ancient plant medicine to help support you and guide you on your journey.
To be honest, there is so much to say about Cacao that I couldn't even begin to scratch the surface in a short blog post. However, I will try to cover just a few basics and hopefully I can expand on particular elements in future :)
Cacao is native to Mexico, Central America and Northern South America, however West Africa now accounts for more than 80% of the world's Cacao production. If you are buying Cacao, please make sure that it has been sourced responsibly and ethically, and that if you intend to use it in ceremony, it is labelled as 'Ceremonial Grade'. Ceremonial Cacao is made using Cacao Paste which is pure Cacao in it's most potent form, you will often find it in large blocks, or broken into smaller pieces which are then sold in bags or smaller packs. Cacao in this form is very, very different to the chocolate we are used to consuming in the form of confectionery, which typically won't contain even 5% pure Cacao.
Cacao is often described as heart opening, and it is a powerful but gentle plant medicine which has been used in ancient, sacred rituals for thousands of years as a way of connecting to spirit and to deepen the relationship with nature. It doesn't contain the psychoactive elements that some other plant medicines do and it's effects are more subtle. It is an extremely concentrated source of anti-oxidants, Magnesium, Iron and other nutrients and also contains Anandamide, which is often called the "bliss molecule", contributing to the warm, heart-opening feelings we can experience when drinking Cacao.
30-40g of Cacao is often considered a good "Ceremonial dose" but if you are a first time drinker, it's a good idea to start off with 10 -15g and work up to a stronger dose. I often prepare Cacao just on the hob, chopping it into small pieces and then melting with a small amount of water to form a smooth paste, and then adding plant milk to the desired amount - dairy is often advised against as it can interfere with the absorption into the body. I often prefer a smaller cup of Cacao as I feel it is more potent and not too voluminous and filling - though, of course this is just a personal preference, and like everything else you will find your own way of doing things after a bit of experimenting. Cacao in it's pure form is actually quite bitter and again this is a matter of personal taste, but I like to add a little bit of natural sweetener (Agave or Honey work well), some Cayenne Pepper and a bit of Cinnamon - but there are many ways of enjoying and experimenting with your Cacao.
You can drink Cacao as part of your own spiritual practice, preparing and drinking it mindfully and with gratitude - it doesn't have to be fancy, even just 10 or 15 minutes spent sitting quietly with a cup - and if you have more time, you could try it with other practices like journalling, meditating, dancing, breath work or yoga - again have fun and experiment and see what works for you. Cacao works best when we have a specific intention or questions on any issues we might need help or guidance with, so begin by bringing to mind your intention for the session and asking for guidance either out loud or silently while you drink. In my experience, like so many other things, this is a journey and a relationship that will deepen the more time you spend with it, rather than a quick 'fix' - it is a gentle way of journeying but one that will provide encouragement and deeper insights the more that you enquire and open up to it. And remember to always treat your Cacao with respect :)
Cacao is wonderful to enjoy as part of your personal practice, but also great enjoyed with company. I am running some Cacao evenings, to join with others in a friendly and welcoming space, to enjoy a cup, some meditation, music and intention setting. This is all set in a warm and supportive environment - whether you're an experienced Cacao drinker or if this is your first time - everyone is welcome! You can find details on my website/social media channels or please, as ever, feel free to contact me for further information.