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What Is a Cacao Ceremony & What Are Its Benefits?

March 29, 2023 | The Aerial, BVI

If you’ve spent any time in a yoga community or other mindfulness group, you may have heard about the wonders of the cacao ceremony. Cacao—and specifically raw cacao—has been used for centuries as part of emotional and spiritual healing endeavors, and the ceremony remains relevant and transformative even today. 

What Is a Cacao Ceremony? 

A cacao ceremony is a gathering centered around the consumption of cacao, a plant-based extract made from the seeds of the cacao tree. If you’ve ever had chocolate (and who hasn’t?), you’ve tasted the fruits of the cacao tree. A cacao ceremony is typically led by a knowledgeable facilitator who guides you and the other participants through a series of meditations and reflective exercises.

During the ceremony, you are invited to set intentions for yourself. Sometimes the intentions are shared with the group, but some ceremonies emphasize private intentions. In some cases, the ceremony may even include music, dance, or various other forms of movement and expression.

man drinking at a cacao ceremony

The History of the Ritual Cacao Ceremony 

Cacao ceremonies trace their origins to indigenous traditions in Central and South America. In these regions, cacao has long been used for its medicinal and ceremonial properties. Shamans and healers have even used cacao as a tool for gaining spiritual insights.

No longer limited to the Americas, cacao ceremonies are now more popular than ever. In fact, modern cacao ceremonies are a fixture of many top wellness programs and retreats, and some people are even bringing the tradition into their own homes. 

Ceremonial Cacao

The cacao used in ceremonies is somewhat different from the cacao you’ll find in its everyday form. Cacao is commonly prepared in a ceremonial-grade form, which involves roasting and grinding the cacao beans to produce a bitter, pure form of chocolate. While different practitioners have different preparations, a typical ceremonial cacao will be made with ground cacao, cacao butter, water (or milk), and a bit of sweetener like agave or honey. Sometimes spices like cayenne pepper and cinnamon are also incorporated. 

Cacao has long been regarded for both its nutritional and spiritual significance. The nutritional benefits of cacao are well-documented: it’s one of the highest food sources of antioxidants, which help to protect the body from oxidative stress and damage from free radicals. It’s also rich in magnesium, iron, fiber, and mood-enhancing compounds like phenylethylamine (PEA) and anandamide, which can promote feelings of well-being and happiness. So even if you’re not taking part in a full-fledged ceremony, eating or drinking cacao has definite benefits. 

On the spiritual side, cacao is regarded for its grounding and heart-opening qualities. The ceremony is designed to place you in a positive, uplifted state where you’re open to embracing spiritual intentions as you connect more deeply with yourself and with others. Cacao is a powerful plant ally that can help facilitate spiritual growth, healing, and connection, and that’s what the ceremony is all about.

Ceremonial Cacao experience at Aerial BVI

The Benefits of a Cacao Ceremony

One of the key purposes of the cacao ceremony is to facilitate emotional release, forgiveness, and gratitude. Remember that cacao is regarded for its heart-opening properties, which helps you to connect more deeply with yourself and those around you. 

The communal nature of the cacao ceremony helps to bring out these benefits on a higher level. You’re opening your heart as you engage with the participants around you. Through this practice, you’re able to connect with others on a deeper level, which can be healing on an individual level as well. 

Cacao has also long been regarded for its ability to enhance intuition and promote clarity of thought. If you are struggling with difficult decisions, unresolved conflicts, and other sticking points in life, this can be incredibly healing and empowering. 

woman meditating with a group of people

How to Plan Your Own Cacao Ceremony 

If you’re interested in planning your own cacao ceremony, there are a few essential steps to follow: 

Set your intention

Before planning your ceremony, take some time to reflect on your intention. What do you hope to gain from the ceremony? What areas of your life do you want to focus on? Setting a clear intention will help guide your planning process.

Gather your supplies

The ceremonial cacao recipe is pretty standard: You’ll need ceremonial-grade cacao, hot water or milk (you can use nut milks), and any other ingredients you want to include (such as spices, sweeteners, or herbs). You’ll also want to gather any tools you’ll need for the ceremony, such as candles, aromatherapies, or music. 

Find a space

Choose a space that is comfortable, serene, and meaningful to you—a sacred space if possible. It could be indoors or outdoors, but make sure it’s a quiet and peaceful space where you won’t be disturbed.

Prepare the cacao

Prepare your ceremonial-grade cacao. You can find many ceremonial cacao recipes online. The general process involves heating your water or milk and then gradually whisking in the cacao along with any other chosen ingredients (such as spices). Make sure that you use whole-bean, organic cacao.

Begin the ceremony

Sit quietly with your cacao and take a few deep breaths. Settle into a meditative state and connect with your inner thoughts. You may want to include other elements in the ceremony, such as journaling, guided meditation, or movement.

Close the ceremony

When you’re ready to end the ceremony, take a few deep breaths and express gratitude for the experience. You may want to close with a prayer, a song, or a simple moment of silence.

Remember that a cacao ceremony can be personalized to your individual needs and preferences. Trust your intuition and create a ceremony that feels authentic and meaningful to you.

woman enjoying the end of a cacao ceremony

A Cacao Ceremony Can Change Your Life 

Cacao is more than just the seed responsible for chocolate. There’s something transcendent about it, though it’s hard to describe until you’ve experienced the ceremony for yourself. That’s why cacao ceremonies are a staple of our luxury wellness retreats at The Aerial, BVI. 

Discover for yourself the benefits of drinking ceremonial cacao. Put your intention out to the world, consume your cacao beverage, and discover what is in store for you. Even if you’re an ardent skeptic, you might be surprised at the outcome.

aerial view of the Aerial BVI island