Cacao Medicine & creating a Cacao Ceremony

cacao pods from theobroma cacao

One of the herbs that has been my biggest support through post-partem and beyond as a busy working mama is Theobroma cacao.

The beans from this wonder-plant are processed to eventually become the main ingredient of chocolate. The cacao in commercial chocolate, grown as a commodity on a large scale, purely for industrial chocolate production brings with it all the ecological implications of any large-scale farming; biodiversity loss, soil degradation and pesticide-use. There are many aspects of the production line that sever our ties to the spiritual and physiological medicine that the plant Theobroma cacao offers us.

Ceremonial grade cacao is a cacao paste from the beginning of the harvesting process - cacao beans that have been fermented in the sun, lightly roasted and then when these beans are ground, the naturally occurring fats create a paste which is then solidifies into a cacao block. The trees are grown in bio-diverse forests by farmers working to enhance and not degrade the land. Ingesting this cacao keeps us closer to the mother plant and all the medicine she offers.

Since my pregnancy, I regularly make myself a bitter drink using ceremonial criollo cacao and have found it to give me deep, nourishing support that my body and soul needs. With over 700 known compounds, cacao’s medicine is broad and complex. Here’s a snapshot: Cacao is a cooling stimulant. It triggers your body to release endorphins and dopamine and its naturally high levels of tryptophan potentiate the activity of seratonin. It stimulates your nervous system, releasing tension and easing pain. Cacao provides us with flavanols, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and other minerals and anti-oxidants that support our immune and nervous systems and boost our circulation. It contains anandamide, the endocannabinoid known as the ‘bliss molecule’ since it induces feelings of happiness. The theobromine it’s named for opens the circulatory system, supporting heart health.

These mood-enhancing and energy-giving properties have really helped me navigate being a tired mama. When I feel happy and like I have energy to give, I can negotiate with a toddler with so much more grace! It was no surprise to me that in Central America it is very common to administer Theobroma cacao as a medicine to help nursing mothers with lactation and nourishment. In the early days of nursing, I found myself naturally drawn to drinking cacao and was so grateful for the steadying strength that I felt it gave me.

As with all plant medicine, there is medicine for the spirit as well as the body. It is this medicine I turned to as I navigated my pregnancy and birth approached. It is this medicine I turn to again as I reconnect with myself now the dust has settled and my daughter becomes more independent each day.

Cacao’s stimulating, joy-bringing power opens you up. It has a powerful effect on your heart and the endorphins and neurotransmitters that it stimulates all contribute to a natural feeling of being high. With an open and joyful heart, cacao creates space for healing and cultivating love. Either in ceremony with other people where authentic, open connection can be shared, or in ceremony with yourself, focusing inwards and listening to the whispers of your heart.

Working with Cacao medicine can help us to release emotional blockages, shift patterns or addictions that we may be stuck in, help us to forgive ourselves and others, and bring clarity to life decisions that might be difficult to take, revealing a path forward. To access all this potential, we need to:

  • prepare our cacao drink with love and with intention.
  • Create a quiet, sacred space where we can invite cacao to join us
  • Be open to receiving her messages and medicine
  • Give thanks to this beautiful plant spirit for her generous medicine.

cacao pod from theobroma cacao

Creating your own cacao ceremony

A Recipe

20-30g Cacao
200ml Oat milk
1/4 tsp cardomon
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
Pinch of sea salt
1tsp Maple or rosehip syrup

Chop your cacao and add with all the ingredients to a small saucepan. Heat gently, continuously stirring. Keep your milk below 45ºC. Whisk thoroughly once cacao has dissolved until it is creamy.

A Ritual

Find a quiet place to sit bring your cacao drink and a journal and pen. You might also want to light a candle to support your clarity and focus.

Start by holding your cup of cacao next to your heart. Give thanks to Cacao and ask her for guidance.

Close your eyes and begin focusing on your breath. Slowly drink your cacao. Paying attention to its taste, to where its energy flows in your body and to any images, thoughts, smells or memories that the drink evokes.

Spend at least 5 minutes in quiet meditation. Bring all your focus to your breath. Become aware of the flow of your in-breath - through your nostrils, down through your lungs and let it fill your belly. And as your out-breath flows in reverse bring your focus on the flow of breath up from your belly through your heart and send the breath energy upwards through your crown chakra.

Allow your breath and the energy of cacao to radiate through every cell in your body from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and the tips of your toes.

Turn to your journal. Record any visions, messages, or insights that you received in your meditation time then let your hand write freely without too much thought and answer these questions:

  • What do I need to forgive myself for?
  • Where can I bring more love?
  • What can I lovingly and easily offer as help today?

When you are done, give thanks to Cacao for her medicine and close your ceremony.

Ceremonial cacao a beautiful medicine to share - for example, I have recently gifted cacao in a baby-blessing ceremony for a friend about to give birth and in a womb blessing ceremony for a friend about to have a hysterectomy. I also shared cacao with friends at my own birthday breakfast.

I am a big supporter of using plants that we can grow or harvest local to us, but cacao has given me so much over the last three years, that I made an exception with this plant because I really want to share this medicine with you. You can now buy ceremonial grade criollo cacao (sourced from farmers’ co-operative in Peru) on my website. You’ll find the recipe for making brewing your cacao to drink on the packet.

I wanted to let you know that there’s an alternative to commercial chocolate available for you that can help you connect to your heart, feel energised and envigorated and deeply connected to the incredible web of life that we call home.


300px cacao pot