Updated: Aug 31, 2019
Cacao is truly one of the treasures of the tropical rainforest. The Theobroma cacao tree thrives in the tropical climate of Central and South America. The name theobroma comes from the ancient Greek theo meaning god and broma meaning food.
This food of the gods is a staple of Maya spiritual tradition to this day. According to the mythology, the plumed serpent ‘Kukulkan’ gave cacao to the Maya after the creation of humankind from water maize.
We all know cacao today in it’s delicious chocolate incarnation but this is very different to the pure raw cacao bean which was known for its medicinal, spiritual and ceremonial purposes.
Pure cacao has a bitter earthy taste in contrast to the sweetness of processed chocolate.
Ceremonial raw cacao which is used in traditional shamanic cacao ceremonies is made by sun drying the fresh cacao beans from wild native cacao strains. The beans are not roasted at high temperatures so the integrity of pure flavour and nutritional compounds are maintained. It is then ground into a paste that is mixed with water and spices like cinnamon or chilli.
You might have heard cacao being referred to as a super food, this is due to the fact that it is high in anti-oxidants, and is great source of magnesium, calcium and iron.
Cacao also contains Theobromine, a chemical that acts similarly to caffeine but rather than stimulating the nervous system and giving you the coffee jitters it stimulates the cardiovascular system to make you feel alert yet relaxed at the same time.
On a more metaphysical level cacao also contains a chemical sometimes referred to as the ‘bliss molecule’. Anandamide from the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’ meaning bliss, is a neurotransmitter found naturally in the brain. Cacao is the only food that contains anandomide, which triggers the release of dopamine in the brain giving it mood enhancing properties.
When you add into the equation the ancient belief held by the Maya and most ancient civilizations that plants are spiritual beings just as we are, you can start to understand the sacred place cacao holds in this culture.
In a traditional shamanic cacao ceremony the cacao is used as a tool to help us go deeper into our natural connection with nature and ultimately ourselves.
Every cacao ceremony will be slightly different depending on the group and who is leading it. Once the cacao is drunk, personal intentions can be set and then a meditation will take place allowing the cacao to guide you.
You will find that the meditation will be a more ‘active’ one with heightened, visualisation, feelings of wellbeing and connection. These ceremonial group mediations have a heart opening effect allowing you to enter a space of deep reflection.
Join Vibrasana on the Explore Your Senses retreat to experience first-hand the insights that can come from this truly beautiful and traditional shamanic ceremony.