In every culture, since the dawn of time, humans have come together in ceremony to celebrate and honour our connection to the magnificence of creation.
When sourced thoughtfully, prepared ceremoniously and enjoyed with intention, Ceremonial Cacao is a potent entheogenic tool that has been used in ceremony to expand consciousness, deepen meditative experiences and connect to the energetic space of the heart.
Ancient South American cultures have traditionally used cacao in ceremony to travel inwards and to strengthen their connection with the higher realms.
Within our modern lives, we can prepare and enjoy ceremonial cacao as a tool to complement our own rituals, helping us to reconnect with our heart space, express gratitude, channel insight, enhance intuition and connect with spirit.
What Is Ceremonial Cacao?
Ceremonial cacao differs from your everyday drinking chocolate. It is 100% Cacao in its purest form and is never tampered with. Ceremonial cacao is the initial form from which cacao powder and cacao butter are separated from.
Ceremonial cacao is made from whole cacao beans which undergo a fermentation process necessary for cultivating their flavour profile and activating certain natural compounds.
The beans are then roasted in the sun at low temperatures, cracked, and stone ground by traditional means to create a paste. Roasting at low temperatures ensures that the nutritional properties of cacao remain intact. During the roasting period, each bean is turned and sorted every couple of hours, allowing only the best of the fruit through and ensuring only the highest quality.
Once ground, the bean’s fat remains intact, helping to balance its stimulating properties and facilitate absorption into the bloodstream over a longer period.
Ceremonial cacao is a powerful stimulant, however not in the sense that coffee is. Where coffee’s stimulant effects stem from the caffeine content which activates the nervous system, Cacao contains Theobromine which works by stimulating the cardiovascular system. These are the physical aspects that are thought to assist us with energetically connecting with our heart space.
The Importance Of Sourcing
When selecting a Ceremonial grade cacao to work with, the sourcing and cultivation process is significantly important. Ceremonial cacao needs to be consciously cultivated with intention, and in alignment with the Cacao spirit.
The Criollo species of cacao tree is the most revered for its nutritional properties and delicate yet complex flavour profile, with only 5% of the world’s cacao trees of the Criollo variety.
Cell Squared’s Ceremonial Cacao is cacao with a difference as it is sourced from Bali, Indonesia as opposed to traditionally from South America, where this heirloom cacao initially originated.
Many years ago, the prized South American Criollo Cacao trees were brought from South America to Java, Indonesia and soon after they were adopted in Bali. At first they did not prove popular, so in the absence of commercial plantations, the tree spread informally and evolved into a unique, high quality cacao, called 'light breaking Java's' because they still have the famed Criollo low pigmentation when cut open. Bali proved to be a perfect growing climate for the heirloom cacao.
Now in the mountains of West Bali, local smallholders grow our cacao in sustainable and diversified 'food forests' alongside coconut trees and banana trees. Food forests are real forests that don’t require any work as they self-maintain. This means no need for pesticides, weeding, crop rotation, mowing or digging. The forests are left for mother nature to nurture them in the most natural way possible.
The Balinese organic farmers that cultivate our Cacao are also landowners. Rather than mono-cropping cacao, their trees are grown together alongside coconut and banana, which complement each other and have different harvest times.
Cell Squared Ceremonial grade cacao is raw and unaltered in any way. Our cacao is delivered to us in its most natural state, as a block of cacao paste, which we then break down into large, rough pieces and packaged for our community to journey with.
Bali’s Unique Energy
Not only is Bali the perfect physical climate to nurture this sacred plant, it also holds unique energetic characteristics.
Bali, Indonesia, falls upon two intersecting Ley Lines and is said to be the location of Earths’ Kundalini energy. Ley Lines are lines of energy that span around the earth, passing through mother earth’s chakras. The places around the earth where they intersect are believed to hold a higher concentration of electrical charge, making them significantly energetic points.
Bali’s energetic centre is thought to purify the blood of the earth and ultimately aid in the purification and rejuvenation of our physical and metaphysical selves.
In Bali, ritual and ceremony are intertwined in everyday life, with offerings to the gods bestowed as a part of all aspects of family, village and working life.
Each morning, the Balinese farmers pray to their gods before and whilst interacting with the cacao trees. This devotion gives Cell Squared’s Ceremonial Cacao its medicinal healing power and extraordinary potency, which is unlikely to be found elsewhere. Blessing’s are continuously bestowed throughout the cultivation process from planting, growing, harvesting and fermenting.
Once ready, the best quality, freshest pods are selected and the beans are removed and fermented for five days to optimise flavour. A natural low temperature air drying process, ensures all vital minerals and nutrients are locked in, leading to some shamans declaring our cacao as one of the most effective for ceremonial use.
The Cacao Ceremony
There are endless ways to experience cacao in its ceremonial form which can range anywhere from a simple 10 minute mindfulness ritual each morning, through to an extended group practice.
You can host a cacao ceremony at home by yourself for a more introspective experience or with friends to increase intimacy and cultivate a deeper connection with one another.
1. Preparing The Cacao
The preparation of the Cacao is the beginning of the ceremonial experience. When preparing the Cacao for ceremonial consumption, it is important to do so with intention and expressed purpose.
The ritualistic steps of preparation may vary however this is our personal method that we use to guide us:
Start by playing some soft music to help connect to your space and bring your awareness into the moment. We like to listen to some beautiful frequencies, shamanic or earthy ambient sounds.
We spend some time energetically clearing the Cacao preparation area through a smudging process. This involves burning either Palo Santo or Sage and waving the smoke locally to dispel any negative energies.
At this stage, we like to begin setting our intention. This can be internalised or said out aloud. Your intention can be as simple or as complex as you desire. Our intentions are usually based around connecting with the cacao spirit, opening our hearts and feeling our emotions.
After cleansing the space, we begin to chop and measure the Cacao. A ceremonial dose is usually 45g – 60g, however we would recommend that first sensitive or first-time drinkers begin at 20g and progressively increase the dosage each ceremony.
In a saucepan heat the water to around 60 degrees. It should be just too hot to the touch but not boiling. It is important that you do not overheat the water as this will reduce the nutritional properties and potency of the Cacao.
Add the Cacao to the water
Use a spoon or whisk to stir the brew until all the chunks are blended and you get a frothy top. (It’s helpful to have a spoon or stirring stick to keep the consistency even as you consume as the cacao will settle at the bottom over time).
If you wish, add any natural sweetening or spices to taste (optional). Refer to our recipespage for some elixir varieties.
Pour the Cacao into your favourite mug. We like to keep a beautiful ceramic mug especially for our Cacao experience.
2. Opening The Space
When honouring this sacred plant medicine, preparing and opening the space is important. We like to enjoy our cacao in the sacred space that we use for our meditation practice.
Preparing and opening your sacred space to receive the cacao is a personal preference, so please tailor this around what enables you to feel centred and connected to the present moment.
You may wish to open the space by lighting incense or a candle, or to cleanse the energy of the space by smudging yourself and your surroundings. At this time, you may also like to call in the spirit of cacao and any energies or guides to accompany you in your journey.
If it is a significant event for which you are connecting with the cacao, such as around the moon cycles or particular times of the year, you may wish to spend extra time creating an alter as a further offering of gratitude to the cacao spirit.
3. Drinking The Ceremonial Cacao
Once you have opened the space, take some moments to connect with your breath, bringing your focus internally.
Whilst mindfully smelling the cacao, reinforce your intention and give thanks to the cacao spirit. As you begin to drink the cacao, visualise drinking in your intention and that intention coursing through every inch of your body.
Cacao can take 20-30mins to take affect. As you wait for it to enter your bloodstream and flow through your heart, you may choose to meditate to connect with the energy and your emotions. Give the cacao permission to lead you wherever it is you need to go and to heighten whatever it is you need to feel.
Extended ceremonial experience
As the effects of cacao can last anywhere from 3 to 5 hours (depending on the person and dosage), you may wish to extend your experience. After meditating, there are many ways you may choose to enjoy the energy of cacao as part of a prolonged practice.
Some of our favourite activities to enjoy with cacao include:
Working with tarot cards
Reading contemplative material
Walking in nature
You will most often find us connecting with music and dancing around our space, allowing cacao’s nurturing energy to flow through us.
Make sure to drink plenty of water after consuming the cacao. You may also wish to ground yourself afterwards by eating some food.
4. Sharing With Others
Ceremonial Cacao is also a powerful tool to facilitate connection with others and you may wish to enjoy this earth medicine with friends or family in a group setting.
Preparing for a small group ceremony needn’t vary too much from that of a personal ceremonial journey. Sit facing each other, or if there are more than 2 sharing the experience, sit within an inclusive circle formation.
Before connecting with the Cacao, you may wish to go around the circle and verbalise your intent for the practice or express something you are grateful for.
5. Closing The Space
After performing the ceremony, it is good practice to mark its completion before going back into everyday life. You may wish to sit quietly in contemplation, give thanks once again to the cacao spirit or simply take a few deep breaths. This is part of the practice that you may personalise in a way that resonates with you.
We hope that these insights will assist you with facilitating your ceremonial practice and that you enjoy connecting with our beautiful ceremonial cacao.