10 Years Into the Cacao Ceremony Movement: Reflections
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"
Well over a decade ago, we were at a fire circle gathering in Costa Rica, where we would drum & dance around the fire all night, for 3 nights. On the afternoon of the opening evening, someone mentioned that we would be doing a cacao ceremony that night. We had never heard the term before, but being chocolate lovers, the idea sounded delicious! Little did we know, this moment would be a turning point in our lives, both in our personal work, and in the path we would take to sharing this medicine with the world.
Ambe & Moses In The Early Days
Our first experience of cacao ceremony, gathered around the fire in the tropics, was magical. It felt as though we were falling in love with everyone there, half of whom we didn’t know previously ! Through this experience, we realized that there was a lot more to cacao than the chocolate we had grown up. This kicked off a couple of years of personal exploration working with cacao as a tool and ally in our healing work. We found it to be gentle and always loving, supporting us in returning to that state of wholeness without a lot of struggle.
Eventually, the natural desire to share this medicine with others grew to the point that we both wanted to both guide others in ceremony, and make sure that high-quality cacao was available to people in the U.S. And so, 10 years ago, Heartblood Cacao was born, as our way of sharing the love!
We remember the first couple of shipments we received, just 40lbs sent through the mail. We built a website (which couldn’t even accept direct online orders!) and got our cacao in a couple of local shops. When we got one sale in a week, it was pretty exciting! Back then, if you did an online search for cacao ceremony, there was virtually nothing to find. It was the early days of the movement.
Over the next few years, we facilitated cacao ceremony all around New England and were pretty much the only ones doing it! We also had our first child, Aya, who would come along with us on the cacao circuit.
Cacao & Sound Healing Journey, Sept 2014
In that time, cacao ceremony started to explode. More and more people caught on to the power of cacao, which we think has as much to do with the cacao itself wanting to share its medicine, as with the unique nature of cacao ceremony. It’s a legal, gentle, and accessible way for everyone to get support in their inner work that is non-directive and loving. Something we all need! It pairs well with so many modalities, that for many, it’s an easy step to incorporate cacao into practices such as yoga, sound meditation, ecstatic dance, women’s/men’s groups, therapeutic work, and much more.
One of the pleasures we’ve had in the last 10 years is that through interacting with our customers and training others in the use of cacao in ceremony, we’ve gotten to see all the different ways that people have been inspired to share cacao. Probably the most unique idea that we’ve heard to date, is speed dating with cacao! We love that cacao inspires people to share their gifts more fully in ways that are unique to them. It’s part of the magic of cacao!
During those years, we updated our logo, developed new websites (that you could actually purchase from!), and created training formats so that we could support others in their desire to share cacao ceremony. Not to mention having 2 more kids, Seraphina & Caspian, who all turned out to love cacao!
New Logo & Website circa 2012
We also shifted our cacao sourcing to a more reliable and transparent system that has quality control built into each step of the way. As we learned more about cacao the plant, and everything that goes into producing high-quality cacao that can be used in ceremony, we realized that this step was needed to provide our customers the long-term stability. Everything, including which seedlings are selected, fermentation protocols & rates, sun-drying methods, roasting, grinding, and packaging, are all steps that have an impact on the final product.
In the last 10 years, we’ve seen cacao ceremony go from a tiny, fringe niche, to a robust, growing field that has many well-established practitioners, communities, and suppliers. Many more people have heard of and even participated in cacao ceremonies. All indicators to us of the growing need for heart-centered practices and the desire to connect with the earth through plant medicines.
We like to think of the ripples of change that have been created over these 10 years, not just from Heartblood, but from all the awesome people who are offering high-quality cacao, ceremony and incorporating this plant into their personal practice and partaking with loved ones. We can’t even count the number of times we’ve heard some version of “this has been life-changing!”. Each time we hear that feedback, it’s a validation of the path we have chosen. And while often not conventional and with its hardships, these moments illuminate the deeper truth of what drives us. The power in this kind of transformational work is profound, on a personal and collective level.
As one of the most affordable suppliers of ceremonial cacao, one of our primary interests has been to keep our business lean and our prices reasonable. We rarely do paid advertising and have primarily grown through word of mouth. It is you, our customers, who have truly helped spread this cacao love far & wide. We love interacting with our customers, as it’s a reminder of why we do what we do. In this way, we draw our inspiration on how to run our business from the cacao itself. Share the love in everything we do. That’s why we joined 1% for the Planet, committing 1% of every dollar that comes through our door to a non-profit partner, AIR Guatemala. At each stage of growth, there are new opportunities to tackle issues of sustainability, fairness, and improving what we offer.
Announcing our Non-Profit Partner
So, after 10 years of running Heartblood and watching the movement grow, we are ready for the next stage of our growth. We’ve got some exciting plans for 2021 to take our game to the next level and finding bigger ways to continue to spread the positive impact of what we do, from our sourcing from small farms to educating people on using cacao. We will always remember our roots around the fire and that first time in ceremony, falling in love with all life around us. That will continue to inspire our next 10 years of managing a business with integrity, service & love.
Here’s to all of you for making this movement possible, for sharing cacao with friends, family, and in ceremony. Here’s to all of those small moments where you turned someone on to ceremonial cacao and the Heartblood family. May that love continue to grow, deepen and spread!
Much Love & Gratitude!
Ambe & Moses