“Thus it is said: 'I take cacao. I wet my lips. I refresh myself."
- BERNARDINO DE SAHAGÚN,
Historie General de las Cosas de Nueva España, 16th Century
The Food of the Gods
Cacao, cacahuatl, or kakaw as it was once called, is not only the main ingredient in chocolate, but also an extraordinary plant medicine; a “food of the gods” (theobroma) that was regarded as sacred and used for ceremonial purposes by the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica (the Olmecs, Aztecs, and Maya).
During a cacao ceremony we create a safe space where we can honor this ancient legacy of the cacao and receive its invigorating properties. Depending on the occasion a cacao ceremony will usually involve sharings, sound journeys, music, poetry, and songs.
Besides being one of the richest containers of magnesium and antioxidants, Cacao is known to be the source of a mysterious and little known drug “theobromine”, a close chemical relative of caffeine. When ingested in this rather unprocessed form (and in the right dose) cacao has shown to have a stimulating effect on our nervous system and neurochemistry, generally increasing our blood flow and thus enhancing our sensitivity. This makes cacao a great ally when it comes to working with our emotional life, our creativity and imagination.
Cacao and Alchemy
Among the Maya and Aztec cultures cacao served as an all-purpose vessel for administering medicinal preparations. Because cacao, among other things, increases our blood flow it acts as a powerful synergist, providing a sort of base material, or “prima materia”, in which other plant remedies might come to their own right.
When I prepare cacao I regard it is an alchemical practice, mixing in different ingredients such as chili, ginger, turmeric, lemon balm tea. More recently I have begun to discover the amazing properties of medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, chaga, turkey tail and cordyceps.