Ceremony and ritual have been a part of every culture since the beginning of time. There are many types of ceremonies and rituals, and they all carry a process of preparation, experience, and integration, whether we realize it or not. In order for us to fully access the potential of connection and expansion that Cacao offers us, there are certain steps we can take to receive all the benefits on a physical and energetic level.
According to Andrew Huberman, an American neuroscientist, the preparation process for a good quality sleep begins with the amount of light we receive first thing in the morning. In the same way, to fully access all the benefits of a Cacao ceremony, we must begin preparing before we even enter the ceremonial space. In this journal series, we will go through the steps on how to prepare for a Cacao ceremony, what to expect from the person who is facilitating the journey, and how to integrate the experience. Today we will focus on the preparation for the ceremony. If you are beginning to work with Cacao with more frequency and are incorporating it into your daily rituals, many of these suggestions can be incorporated into your daily life.
Preparing for the body for ceremony
Let’s begin with the physical aspect. When we have a clean vessel, our bodies are able to digest and absorb the vast benefits that Cacao offers us. If we come into ceremony with a full stomach and overstimulated from energy drinks or caffeine, it will influence both the absorption of Cacao and its effects. For all medicinal plants, it’s important to have a clean diet on at least the day of consuming the plant. In the case of Cacao, it is recommended to avoid alcohol and caffeine (or any caffeinated drinks for that matter) for at least six hours before and after consuming ceremonial Cacao. Especially if you are having a full ceremonial dose of Cacao (about 40-50g), make sure you avoid caffeine and alcohol. Cacao is a vasodilator that stimulates blood flow, so on a physical level, anything that we consume with Cacao will access our bloodstream much faster and speed up the process of absorption. From my sitting with the Mayan communities, they have also shared that alcohol carries a spirit and Cacao carries a different spirit—these two energies clash when consumed together.
It is also important to eat light the days we consume Cacao, especially if we are just beginning to work consciously with the plant. We recommend having a light meal up to 2 hours before the ceremony avoiding fried foods, animal products, and heavy foods. I personally don’t consume gluten and find that those who avoid gluten the days of ceremony also have a much more pleasant experience. It is also important to stay hydrated prior, during, and post the consumption of Cacao.
If you are under any medication, especially antidepressants, SSRIs, and high blood pressure medication, we encourage you to let your facilitator know prior to the ceremony so they can offer a dose that is in alignment to what you need.. I usually serve 30g of Cacao. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you can still consume Cacao, but we recommend an even lower dose: 15-20g.
Preparing the mind for ceremony
Now that we are physically prepared, we must put ourselves into the right headspace. At the beginning of every ceremony, we set an intention. Although the spirit of the plant will guide us into what we are needing to see, when we are clear about an intention, our journey is much direct because we align ourselves to the experience. I see setting an intention as creating a commitment with ourselves and allowing the process to flow with grace. It is like a cosmic GPS that gives us direction and clarity to our path. Before heading to the ceremony, take some time to journal, to tune into how you are arriving into your day. If you have a lot on your mind or have had a busy day before the ceremony, take some time to clear your mind before arriving into the ceremonial space, so that you are not bringing all of that into your journey. Some ways of clearing the mind are:
- Physical movement
- Walking in nature
- Relaxing music
Just as we suggest a clean vessel of the foods you ingest, observe also what you are taking in through your social media, tv shows, news, music, conversations, thoughts, etc. All of these have an impact on how we digest our experience. It is something that we may not always be aware of, but this can influence us in a big way. The days (or at least the day) leading up to the ceremony, pay extra attention to how you are preparing energetically for this. If our minds are distracted with negative thoughts, the time we would be using to connect with Cacao would be now be used to clear away negative thinking, the baggage of overconsumption, or propaganda and distractive entertainment. In short, as you endeavor to clear your body of toxins, also endeavor to clear your mindspace a bit, too. This allows both these elements to work in concert with your inner connection to Cacao, not against it.
If you are dealing with something specific that is taking up a lot of space mentally, invite this to be the focus of the ceremony to receive clarity on it. You can also take some time (15-20 minutes of exploration) before the ceremony to review the process you are going through in your mind, give it space to be observed, and then ask yourself to leave it aside until you are done with the ceremony. If you find yourself becoming fixated on these thoughts still, set a mantra to help bring your attention back to the moment:
Enjoy the connection!
We can receive such a different experience when we take the time to consciously prepare for a Cacao ceremony and take the necessary steps to show up fully open and clear. As anything else in life, the work begins before the event, so keep your mind and body clear, focus on your intention, and enjoy true connection in the ceremonial space!