Working with cacao as a teacher-plant in cacao ceremony has permeated to the Western World from South America. Along with that, many different ways to work with this plant have come through. There’s no right or wrong way as long as intention is set to create space for this plant to work through you. I will provide basic guidance on the ways that have been beneficial in my practice.
I will break the ways that I work with cacao into two broad categories: casual/daily practice and more focused/ceremonial practice.
For casual practice, its like having a cup of tea for me, which is always a little ritual in itself. The dose is not super strong- an easy daily dose is approximately 1.5-2 tbsp of my cacao blend to taste.
Here are directions on how to prepare a daily drinking dose:
Heat up water or milk of choice on stove – not boil- just heat to a temperature slightly hotter than you would want to drink. Stir in the cacao blend. You can add a sweetener if you would like- honey works great! You could also add more spices or herbs. Sometimes I play with adding things like lavender or ashwagandha. A really luscious way to enjoy this drink is to froth it by simply adding it to a blender on low speed.
It’s nice to have a quite, relaxing space to drink.
For a personal cacao ceremony: (more focused than above)
It would be good to leave at least an hour between eating and sitting with the cacao. Don’t be too hungry where you feel un-grounded, but you definitely want your food to be digested and have enough space energetically to be with the cacao. You will be more sensitive to it’s effects this way- if you aren’t processing a bunch of other things.
It would be nice to set up an altar to make the space really intentional in a way that feels good to you- candles, incense, special objects that help you feel connected. Setting the space intentionally is part of the process of creating sacred space.
Then take a few moments and let yourself ground.
Sit in a comfortable seated position, where your spine is straight and aligned.
Close your eyes.
Drop out of the “doing” mode and into your breath. Really take some time to drop in. Become present with where you are.
Thank yourself for making ritual part of your life and taking this time for connection.
Thank the plants for coming to you to help you with this process.
You can have your palms down for grounding, and also touch the earth if that helps.
Then when you feel present and grounded and open,
Set your intention.
Ask your heart what you can do for it and listen.
Ask the Spirit of cacao to help you.
You can call in the Spirit of cacao to assist you by simply stating “I call in the Spirit of cacao with gratitude to assist me in this ceremony” or however it feels good to say. It is often beneficial to say this aloud. Also you can call in the spirit of the other plants in the blend: Maca, Cayenne, Reishi, Chaga.
Speak your intention either internally or out loud.
Take your time to notice the taste and feels- use all your senses, open.
After you have taken the cacao, it can be nice to move it through with a practice of song and/or breath-work. I recommend an Amazonian breath-work. The Paititi Marketplace on etsy sells DVDs of how to work with this breath-work. Doing these practices moves the cacao through your vessel.
When you have completed this practice, come back to stillness and quiet observing. Take some time to do this.
You can close in whatever way feels good- whether that be a prayer, an om- whatever seals your ceremony.
Ceremonial dose and preparation:
It’s the same way of just heating water on the stove and adding in the cacao blend, but doing it more simply and a larger quantity.
I like to keep it simple as to really let the cacao and helper plants in the blend to have their space- I just use water and the blend. Sometimes I add cacao paste too which makes the blend thicker but it’s not necessary. The dose will use a lot more cacao than a daily dose. Use about 1/4 of the container for one serving- you can start smaller and see how sensitive you are. I wouldn’t do much more as it is possible to ingest too much cacao which can make you feel woozy. A normal effect is an elevation in heart rate- you can expect this with a ceremonial dose of cacao. It is contraindicated to work with a ceremonial dose if you have a heart condition or are taking antidepressants.
Some people like to do something creative with a cacao ceremony as it opens the heart and focus-aiding creativity. There’s different levels you can get into with it:
You can have a casual daily drinking ritual like I described with a small dose.
You can do a medium-sized dose for focused heart centered conversation with someone or a creative outlet or you can do a large dose for a very focused cacao meditation or ceremony.