I had a Cacao ceremony all by myself the other day. I was curious, as I’d been reading about them, and being such a huge fan of cacao myself, I decided to try it. The idea behind the ceremony is to open yourself up so that you can hear what the Cacao plant medicine has to say. I prepared my ceremonial Cacao (instructions below) and sat down to sip it, as I reflected on what I have to be grateful for. Life and love, and for all of our relationships, big and small.
The drink itself is surprisingly good. I didn’t add anything sweet to the mixture, just a little bit of sage and cardamom, and so it was a little bitter. The flavor of cacao was so perfect for the moment. I sipped my drink over the next 10 or 15 minutes, and I felt energized as if I drank a couple of cups of espresso. I also felt peaceful and happy- I wasn’t sure how much of this was the drink, and how much was my preparation for this personal ceremony.
Cacao ceremonies have been going on for a couple of thousand years. They appear to be entirely different now than I imagine they were millennia ago.
Today’s Cacao ceremony often involves a communal gathering with a sacred circle and music. Like the Japanese Tea Ceremony, the thoughtfulness and tradition in the growing and processing of the beans, as well as the ceremony itself, differentiate ceremonial Cacao from cacao paste.
I had reached out to Serap Kara, who leads Cacao Mama. To her, the ceremony is all about the Spirit of Cacao, with whom she has befriended, and who has become her teacher. Above all, she said, Cacao is her center.
For her students, this ceremony the training has been a confidence builder, and a way to discover their connection with nature. One student said “One of the most important things I understood was simplicity, and allowing space for things to happen.”, and another, “The training felt very safe, warm and open and the atmosphere was very allowing, everybody could be themselves.”
Serap holds ceremonies and training, which until recently have consisted of only women. She had recently opened it to men, and her exercises will now include about 1/3 males. “My intention is to create a safe space to reconnect with Spirit – Plant Spirit, Earth Spirit, Nature Spirit. I carry codes of freedom inside, offering avenues into the unseen worlds.” She is very connected to the Spirit of Cacao, and is being asked to spend some time focusing on the planting of trees, to give back to Source.
During my solo ceremony, I felt like walking. I walked down to the beach and watched the ocean, and I thought about the power of water. I watched the seagulls flying low and looking for food- there were so many! And the little sandpipers running back and forth, following the lapping ocean, looking for what little morsels it brought. Then I thought about the abundance of life- from microscopic organisms to insects and plankton, to these sea birds, and us humans- how much life is happening right here in my little slice of life is astounding and having a whole earth full of it… well, it’s amazing.
I also thought about how much greed has been determining our politics and our policies around the world. And I thought about how the drivers of that greed come from a preconception that we are all separate, because understanding that we are all so connected would surely lead us to be more cooperative with people and the rest of nature, rather than being so competitive.
And I thought how it might be nice if we could all take some time to open our hearts and feel connected with nature all around us. Maybe Cacao ceremonies are the perfect thing to help us notice.
What Is Ceremonial Cacao?
Ceremonial Cacao is made from ground up Cacao beans. Traditionally, after fermenting and drying the beans, they’d be crushed into nibs and winnowed in a big bowl. The winnowing process involves tossing the crushed beans into the air, letting the wind take away all of the light husk, and allowing the heavier pieces fall back into the bowl. Then these pieces are crushed with blunt sticks until it turns into a paste. The paste is then added to hot water and poured back and forth between clay cups until the liquid becomes frothy.
When making ceremonial Cacao today, you need to find Cacao paste (also called cacao liquor) that has not been heated to more than 200°f and has not been through any chemical processing, such as alkalization. Generally, if it’s named Cacao, you are ok. If it’s called cocoa, maybe not.
At Kakosi, we sell ceremonial cacao that is grown and harvested by small communities of farmers using sustainable methods. When you use or enjoy ceremonial cacao, you can trust the thoughtfulness of the processes that helped produce it. Click here to get to our shop page. To make the Ceremonial drink, add hot water to the paste, and if you like, some spices. Some folks also add a sweetener, such as honey I found it easier to grind up the chunks of cacao before mixing with the hot water. I added sage and cardamom, which I think is a delicious combination. I have a little battery powered frother which worked very well for mixing. You can also use a whisk, or a blender. Keep a spoon handy while drinking too, as the solids tend to settle in your cup.