I’ve been on this journey, taking timid steps, for a couple months now so I am still really learning what it’s all about and how it fits in my life and exactly where I want to take this journey to. During the process I have mentioned it a time or two on facebook and have had a number of people ask me about it. The stars have aligned and circumstances have occurred that are allowing me the time and space I need to really delve in to this sacred cacao stuff for a few days and I am going to share my experiences with you, Constant Reader.
So firstly I think it best if I try and explain what exactly cacao is, and perhaps what it isn’t. For starters, it’s isn’t modern day chocolate as you know it, with the additives and the sweetness. That kind of chocolate comes from Theobroma cacao, however the difference between commercial chocolate and ceremonial (super-healthy!) cacao is like the difference between chalk and cheese. Theobroma is a greek word and is translated literally to mean “god food”. The genus Theobroma has been traced back MILLIONS of years to the east of the Andes in South America. The first recorded use of cacao was dated back to around 2000BC.
The Aztecs called the cacao bean Cacahuatl. Their sacred cacao drink was called Xocoatl which is where the word chocolate was actually derived from. Cacao trees only grow within a 20 degree direction either side of the equator and are a tropical evergreen species. Possibly one of the few things on the planet that don’t need bees to pollinate it, relying instead on tiny flies! They produce flowers, beans, seeds and nibs. It’s the beans that are harvested to produce chocolate.
The cacao bean is a revered and magical gift believed to be granted to mortals by the gods. Cacao was a sacred elixir, a ritual aid, powerful medicine, a source of economical exchange and an indicator of spiritual standing. The Aztecs and Mayans believe cacao was discovered by the gods in the Mountain of Sustenance (which some mythologies indicate is likely near the Andes), along with many other nourishing life-giving foods. Quite possibly of the sort we now call “super foods”. Interestingly, considering the society stigma between women and chocolate in the modern world, it was said the sacred knowledge of how to prepare, roast and press the cacao beans in to the sacred chocolate elixir (which was believed to have gifted wisdom) was very specifically given to women as divine instruction.
An early, traditional recipe of the cacao elixir, Xocoatl, was for it to be mixed with roasted corn flower, chilies, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and pepper. This made it a bitter, savoury and very spicy drink, not at all like the sweet and creamy hot chocolate we consume today. It’s most common use was for medicinal, ritual, shamanic use and as a spiritual aid, mystical practice and religious sacrament. There are those who believe a powerful blend of cacao and psychedelic tryptamines were ingested with great appeal and reverence specifically for significant spiritual rituals and celebrations.
Cacao was deeply revered as a sacred plant medicine and healer. It’s healing and medicinal properties include, but is not limited to, aphrodisiac properties, longevity benefits, assists with an array of internal bodily pain, external wounds and burns, various disease, lung and abdominal issues. It was also given to warriors to help with courage and sustenance. Spanish priest, Bernardino de Sahagun in 1590AD, over a 60 year period, put together a codex listing around 300 medicinal uses for cacao. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that the processing and production of chocolate began to change, no doubt at the hands of a man! (Don’t get me wrong, I am not a man-hater, I love men, however I do think the masculine energy has destroyed a lot of what was once held sacred)
Cacao in it’s rawest form is an ancient super-food. The super-food of super-foods! It is completely riddled with essential minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants. It is also known to be packed with naturally-occuring, consciousness altering, significant components like endorphins, magnesium, histamine, serotonin, dopamine, tryptophan and more. Most people will have at least heard of a number of these but the most significant (for me) is probably the magnesium. I’ve been doing some research on magnesium over the years and discovered that a large chunk of the population is severely deficient in magnesium. It does so much for our bodies yet things like stress deplete it far quicker than what most of us are consuming to replace it. It is essential for memory, concentration and has a capacity to help relax the muscles and regular progesterone, the hormone responsible for mood-swings. It’s highly likely cacao’s super-high content of magnesium is a big reason for a woman’s body to intuitively crave chocolate around menstruation. In my personal experience I have noticed less migraines since I have begun to regularly experiment with ceremonial cacao.
There is so much amazing information about this god-food that I could likely write a years worth of blog posts about it. But I’m not a scientist and I’m not really interested in delving that deep in to the scientific nature or even the mythological nature of cacao – though I am very interested in mythology, so perhaps one day I will explore that aspect some more. For now though, for today, this moment, this coming week, I will be writing about going on a cacao dieta.
So now we know what cacao is, let me tell you what a cacao dieta is about.
Basically, I have been ‘tinkering’ with cacao. Getting my toes wet, seeing how it feels, experimenting, playing. A dieta is about deepening the relationship. You could think of it as immersion work or a cacao retreat. I will be ingesting cacao every single day for the next 5-6 days and devoting time to myself and my experiences and journey with ceremony and self-connection. I will be using it to help me heal some past wounds that desperately need healing so I can let them go and move forward without the baggage weighting me down. In a way I will be using it, also, as a regenerative.
During this week I will be detoxing. I will be getting synthetic sugar out of my system. I will be getting gluten out of my system. I will be filling myself with as many fresh and healthy nutrients and vitamins as possible. I will be paying particular attention to how my energy levels have been recently and how they are when I get to the end of the week and I am going to really focus on how much better I feel every time I go to reach for a coke at the supermarket, or go to buy a packet of biscuits or cake or get fish and chips for dinner cause I’m too tired to make something better. I will remember how much better I feel when I reach for the mash potato or the white bread or the pasta. I am using this week to kick-start a new lifestyle for myself. I’ve even got a friends xtrainer I will be borrowing!
A traditional plant medicine dieta is considered a form of apprenticeship and intensive training. Essentially it’s a commitment to a period of time where the primary focus is on deepening, exploring and learning from various plant medicines through personal retreat and extended ceremonial depth work. This intense form of work is best done with the use of other healing modalities, so I will be laying on my crystal bed a lot, surrounded but supportive crystals and giving myself reiki treatments. I have organised for myself at least 4 days of retreat conditions where I can withdraw or semi-withdraw from my normal everyday life. By allowing myself this container I am hoping to engage in transformational work and conscious integration and I am inviting you to witness this journey through my blog posts.
I hope this has been at least a start for you to understand what this cacao thing I keep going on about is all about 🙂 I’m really looking forward to going inward and giving myself some time and space to shift some old, dug in conditioning and festering wounds. I’m ready to become all I can be. I’m ready to be healthy and in love with myself. I am ready to stop being so affected by other people and their criticism. I’m ready to surrender all that I am to all that is. I am ready to be that which I am.
My future blog posts probably won’t be as structured or knowledge based as this. Mostly it will be a story-telling of my journey, what I did, what insights arose, what healing took place, etc. Just for this post I wanted to help people really understand what sacred ceremonial cacao is and what it is used for. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer about it please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer them in following blog posts if I can.
In Joy! I love you. You are welcome here in your true form of authentic self-expression. You are beautiful.