The Healing Power of Ceremonial Cacao: Exploring the Spiritual and Physical Benefits

We’ve all heard of hot cocoa, that delicious chocolate-y drink that is even better with marshmallows on top, but did you know there is another chocolate drink that has major health and spiritual benefits? Introducing cacao, cocoa’s….cousin? Cacao (pronounced ca-cow) is the pure, unprocessed form of chocolate and it has been used for centuries in Central and South America for its medicinal and spiritual properties. While cacao may have a slightly bitter taste compared to the chocolate we are used to, its numerous benefits make it stand out as both a plant medicine and a superfood.

Ceremonial cacao is a beverage made from raw, unprocessed seeds. It is often consumed in a ceremonial setting, in combination with meditation, intention-setting, celebration, or other spiritual practices. A ceremony can be a group thing, but cacao can also be used individually, as part of a meditation routine or other personal practice. I have been able to sit in both a group and private ceremony at our very own Inspiring Actions with Rihannon from Sacred Heart Medicine Woman and I found it so beneficial that I started incorporating cacao into my meditation practice!

It’s important to note that this plant is not a mind-altering substance. Instead, it is referred to as a heart-opener, known to evoke feelings of connectedness, healthy vulnerability, and emotional awareness. This was my experience, and I discovered that by consuming cacao over time, it’s possible to develop a strong connection with it, almost like working out a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. In this post, we’ll learn more about cacao and its many physical and spiritual benefits!

Picture of harvested fruit from the cacao tree, the seeds of which are used to make ceremonial cacao.

What is Ceremonial Cacao?

Cacao is the raw, unprocessed form of cocoa, the chocolate we all know and love. Unlike regular chocolate, which contains sugar and other additives, ceremonial cacao is free from any processing or additives.

Cacao beans are actually not beans at all, but rather the seeds of the fruit of the cacao tree, grown primarily in Central and South America. The trees produce pods which are harvested and split for the fruit inside, which contains the seeds.

The seeds are fermented, which activates the plant’s beneficial nutrients. The seeds are then ground into a powder or paste, and made into a warm beverage, similar to hot chocolate. Because of its pureness, cacao has an earthy, bitter taste, and numerous benefits!

What are the Benefits of Cacao?

Mood Enhancer

Cacao contains a chemical called theobromine, a natural mood enhancer that can increase feelings of happiness and well-being. In other words, it gives you the warm fuzzies. This is why cacao is often referred to as a “heart-opener”. When consumed mindfully and with intention, cacao can bring us to a more peaceful and present state. Participants in a cacao ceremony often feel a sense of connection to themselves, others, and the world around them.

High in Antioxidants

Cacao is a superfood that is high in antioxidants, which have many health benefits. Antioxidants are substances that protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are produced by our bodies and can cause cell damage and aging. The high antioxidant content of ceremonial cacao helps to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, and boost our immune systems. Research has shown that consuming cacao can also contribute to improved cognitive function and memory.

Anti-inflammatory/Anti-cancer Properties

In addition to its high antioxidant content, cacao is also rich in flavonoids which are a type of plant compound that have been shown to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral effects. They help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are known to contribute to the development of many chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The flavonoids found in cacao have been found to be particularly beneficial for heart health, as they can help to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.

Harvested pods from the cacao tree, the seeds of which will be used to make ceremonial cacao.

Spiritual Growth and Healing

Perhaps most importantly, ceremonial cacao can help to facilitate spiritual growth and healing. It is often referred to as a “plant teacher” or “plant medicine”, as it has the ability to aid us on our spiritual path. Because of its ability to open and soften the heart, ceremonial cacao is a powerful tool for meditation and mindfulness practices. It can help us to connect with our intuition, release emotional blockages, and gain clarity on our life purpose.

When consumed in a ceremonial setting, cacao can help to quiet the mind and deepen our connection to the present moment. This can be especially helpful for those who struggle with meditation or find it difficult to stay present. Cacao can help release spiritual inhibitions that hold us back from connecting with our higher selves, and open us up to the wisdom and guidance that comes from that authentic connection.

What is a Cacao Ceremony?

Attending a cacao ceremony is a unique and spiritual experience. Participants typically sit in a circle, each with their own mug. After the cacao is served, the ceremony usually starts with a brief introduction and meditation. During the ceremony, participants sip the warm beverage and are encouraged to connect with their inner selves, release negative emotions, and focus on intentions for healing and growth. There may be chanting, drumming, and other rituals involved, depending on the tradition and the facilitator.

If you’d like to experience a ceremony with this sacred plant medicine, you are invited to try it with us at Inspiring Actions! We partner with Sacred Heart Medicine Woman several times a year to offer community cacao circles at our studios in Hudson and River Falls! At Inspiring Actions, we offer so much more than yoga. Drop-in for a healing sound bath, meditation workshop, and or course, all the yoga classes you could imagine. From beginner-level classes to somatic therapy to a heated vinyasa flow, we have something for you!

Take a look at our schedule of weekly classes, as well as all of our upcoming events! You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you at Inspiring Actions!


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