What is a cacao ceremony?
To start, let's talk about what a cacao ceremony is. Over the past decade that we've been doing this work, the interest in ceremonial cacao has exploded, and for good reason! Most of us grew up loving chocolate, but never learned about the deeper potential that cacao has.
When consumed as a drink in a higher dose, with the right set & setting, cacao can be a powerful plant medicine. It is a gentle, & accessible way to enhance our spiritual practices, daily rituals & deeper healing work.
Cacao As Plant Medicine
When approached with reverence and an open-mind, cacao can be a doorway to deeper experiences. Unlike psychedelics, cacao is an energy that is available to gently support us wherever we need to go. It won't take us on a ride we're not ready for. So it's important to take a more proactive approach with a cacao ceremony, and work with the energies more intentionally. Be sure to set up your space in a way that feels beautiful & sacred and bring clear intentions to your practice.
Used this way, cacao will offer opportunities to cultivate greater self-love, awareness and expansion of our consciousness. Cacao pairs beautifully with many other practices, including meditation, yoga, dance, community circle's and shamanic journeying, among others.
For each of the practices below, use this general structure:
- Brew up your cacao with our drink recipe
- Begin your ceremony at home, in a quiet space
- Start by offering gratitude for the cacao & state your intention for the this time
- Consume the cacao, enjoying the deliciousness
- Sit for 10-15 minutes, in meditation or quiet reflection
- Do the suggested practice
- Take some time for journaling & integration
- End at home and be sure to offer thanks!
Practice #1 - Morning Cacao Ritual
Daily practices & habits are a powerful way to start the day off right. The way we begin our day will set the tone for how we respond to whatever life throws our way. Developing healthy morning routines helps us feel grounded, balanced & in a positive state of mind. Cacao can be a game-changer for our morning rituals, so try out this practice to experience it for yourself.
Supplies: Journal & Pen
Do this practice first thing in the morning, preferably before doing much else (especially checking your phone or emails!).Do the following:
- Brew up a 1-ounce Cacao Morning Energizer
- While sipping on your cacao, do a journaling exercise called 'Morning Pages' by spending 5-10 minutes writing precisely 3 pages, long-hand. Write EVERYTHING on your mind. Don't worry about how it looks or what others would think; just get it all down on paper until you've filled 3 pages.
- After this brain dump, finish your cacao while allowing 1-2 minutes for transition
- Sit quietly & meditate for 10 minutes. Use whichever style comes most naturally. If new to meditation, just observe your breath as it comes and goes, returning your attention here whenever it wanders.
- Take a moment to stretch, and get started with your day!
For best results, try this 3-5 times in a week
The benefit from morning rituals is repetition. You'll notice bigger changes over time, so try out this practice regularly and you'll experience the difference.
Practice #2 - Cacao In Nature
We are nature. Nature literally sustains us in each moment, through our breath, the water we drink & the food that nourishes our body. When we spend time outdoors, we immerse ourselves in something vaster than ourselves, which has numerous benefits:
- Reduce stress
- Boost the immune system
- Deepen our sense of interconnectedness
- Increase our sense of well-being & relaxation
Supplies: none (that's the beauty of it!)
Prepare for this one in advance, so you have an idea of where you're going and what the weather holds. Make sure to leave your cellphone at home. Brew up the Ceremonial Cacao Drink and take it with you to your spot. Begin your ceremony there, drinking your cacao and sitting quietly. Take time to tune into your senses and shift your rhythm to that of the natural world around you.During your time outside, try one or more of the following:
- Sit Spot. Sit still & quietly, letting your energy match that of your spot. Eventually, wildlife returns to its non-disturbed rhythms, and it's fascinating to watch.
- Wander. Move about without a predetermined destination. Follow your intuition and be drawn to places and things. Let curiosity drive you and let go of the goal-oriented mind.
- Play. Take off your shoes. Climb trees. Get muddy & wet. Be loud & wild. Let your inner child take the lead and be nourished by the release into joy.
- Have a conversation with the more-than-human world. Be drawn to something, plant, rock, tree, animal, etc, and begin a conversation. Introduce yourself and learn what it's like to be that other thing and listen to what it has to teach you.
Practice #3 - Cacao With Friends
We all need connection. We all need a safe space to be accepted as we are. We need to laugh, cry and be ourselves with those we love. Our friends are a vital source of our own well-being and gathering with cacao in the mix makes that time just a little bit sweeter!
Supplies: Good Friends
- Invite your friends over for an intimate gathering at your house, and let them know you'll be making cacao drinks to share!
- Brew up a pot of cacao, with about 1.5 ounces of cacao & 7 ounces of water per person. Add any amendments to make it delicious (we love coconut milk, vanilla & cardamom for this).
- Keep it informal, and think of it like a gathering with friends, only with heart-opening cacao, instead of the booze! Let the energy of the group & the particular relationships guide the time. Talk, share, play games, dance, and listen to music.
- If you want something more structured, try a sharing circle where each person gets a turn to share from the heart whatever is going on for them. Or create vision boards together and share what you've created.
Don't fret the details, just gather your friends, share the cacao, and let the magic unfold!
There's no need to overthink this one, as the sweetness & connection is already there in your relationships. Sharing cacao together is it's own medicine and even if you just hang or sit quietly, you'll feel the love flowing.
Practice #4 - Self-Care Ritual
We all need a little TLC! The last person we usually make time for is ourselves. A self-care ritual flips that around and makes our own needs the primary goal. When we fill up our own cup, we feel rested, rejuvenated and ready to offer ourselves more fully to the world. Cacao gives us the extra nudge we often need to take extra special care of ourselves.
Supplies: Spa products, journal & pen, music, art supplies
To begin, make sure to set aside the time without interruptions or other responsibilities, so your attention isn't taken elsewhere. Brew up the Ceremonial Cacao Drink and begin your self-care ritual by luxuriating in the experience of drinking your cacao. Take some time to connect with your body, through meditation, journaling or light stretching/movement. From there, your sole goal is to follow what feels good. Draw a warm bath with your favorite spa products and scented candle. Create a manifestation board to help you connect with your deeper desires and purpose in life. Do that yoga flow you keep meaning to do. Throw on some music and dance like nobody's watching. Snuggle up in bed and delight in the cozy warmth of your safe place. Or, doze off into dream land and get some much needed rest. It helps to have some options planned out in advance so you can follow your bliss in the moment, as you find your groove. Whatever you get up to, take some time at the end to reflect & journal on how it feels to take care of yourself and the inner changes you notice.
Practice #5 - Embodiment Practice
We spend so much of our time in our heads, thinking about this or that, planning the future, remembering the past. It can be exhausting and easy to spiral into stories that don't serve us. Embodiment practices help us connect with our body & emotions, which are always living in the present. As we do so, we feel more centered, grounded and empowered to live our life. Cacao helps us connect to our bodies more deeply and is a powerful tool with embodiment practices.
Supplies: Just you & your body (maybe some music!)
Just you & your body (maybe some music!)
- Movement practice. Yoga, ecstatic dance, stretching, Qigong or other modality you resonate with. Start slow and move deeper into the practice as you go, following the lead of your body. Sustain the practice until you feel refreshed, more deeply present and ready to rest.
- Breathwork. There are many different modalities & styles, but all help us return to deeper, healthier breathing patterns, while releasing stuck energy in the process. Check out this video for a great place to start with breathwork.
- Sound. Using mantras, sound healing tools (drum, rattle, gongs, singing bowls) or just your own voice, sound can be both grounding and expansive. Let the sounds transport you to deeper layers of your own experience, allowing the full expression of the sounds you want to make.
Make sure to leave time at the end of your session for something akin to shavasana (lying quietly on the floor, watching your breath), to allow your body to settle and to notice all the changes that have come over you.
Trust yourself & your body
If the medicine of cacao has taught us anything, it's to trust and honor that which is present in this moment. Whether it's comfortable or not, cacao helps us connect with what is real. Through this, we learn to trust our body, our emotions, and the deeper intelligence that works through us. As we come more fully into our bodies, that intelligence can flow more naturally.
Here are a few important tips, no matter how you do your cacao ceremony:
- Read over the preparation instructions, including the contraindications, so you're prepared
- Approach cacao with reverence and an open-mind. Let go of any expectations of what it will be like and cultivate presence with whatever shows up for you, in any given ceremony
- Be gentle with yourself! No change happens by beating ourselves up. In fact, we need to let go of that critical voice for genuine healing. Always return to loving yourself more deeply! Leave time after you're done to hydrate, integrate and transition into whatever is next.
- Remember that sometimes, the next few days after a ceremony can actually be harder as things are moving & settling within us. Continue to be gentle & practice self-love!
Now here are your next steps:
- If you don’t already have ceremonial grade cacao (or if you want to upgrade to the world’s best), purchase yours here: Ceremonial Grade Cacao
- Set aside the time to try out one (or more!) of these 5 practices. When we make the time & space, that's when the magic flows! Experience, integrate & repeat.
- Practices are most powerful when done regularly and this can change our baseline way of feeling in the world.
Moses Draper, Co-Founder embue cacao
I've been working with cacao for over a decade and am passionate about sharing the love & beauty that is possible with this medicine.