Food of the Gods
Ceremonial Cacao: if you’ve not experienced the wonderful healing and therapeutic powers of a cacao ceremony yet, then now is the time. By Gemma Alvino
If you love chocolate, then the chances are you will love a cacao ceremony! Experiencing the ultimate cacao bliss with the highest-grade ceremonial cacao is something to remember. That’s what motivates me here at Cacao Calling, where I dig deep into the journey, from bean to heart, to help educate and inspire others in this sacred offering.
I experienced my first cacao ceremony whilst going through a very dark period in my life where I felt completely lost and disconnected from myself. I remember taking the first sip of cacao and feeling my heart expand and a loving feeling wash over me.
A cacao ceremony is rooted in helping to re-balance the energies within us, to help find clarity and restore good health. It’s also a wonderful time to give ourselves mental and physical space and peace. You get to switch off, and retreat inwards, helping you to learn more about yourself, and gain clarity on where you are and where you’re headed.
It is through discovering who we really are that we can reach our highest potential, and create the most beautiful life for ourselves and those around us. There are so many different ceremonies in existence today. Some will lead you on a journey of dance, breathwork or yoga, while others will centre on meditation and inner reflection.
What is Ceremonial Cacao?
Cacao was something I was already familiar with from a young age, but I never quite understood the history and benefits of adding chocolate in its purest form, Ceremonial Cacao, into my daily routine until I found myself sat in a Cacao Ceremony — and my calling to share this with the world began.
Cacao beans are the primary ingredient in chocolate, but have you ever wondered where these beans actually come from and what makes Ceremonial Cacao so different? Ceremonial Cacao is the purest form of chocolate we can come across, made from a single ingredient – 100% cacao beans. Known as the ‘food of the gods’, the cacao beans found in the cacao plant, Theobroma Cacao were first discovered centuries ago and have remained a staple in many cultures.
Cacao has always been a very powerful and important food, medicine and even currency. Many years ago, cacao was seen as a gift from the gods and only people with high status were privileged enough to drink it. Cacao beans were also used as currency, so it was known that drinking cacao was like drinking pure gold!
Unfortunately, as time has gone on, the value and beauty of chocolate has diminished. Conventional cacao or cocoa powder and a lot of the ‘chocolate’ we see in shops today has been stripped of its natural goodness and compromised with fats, sugar, dairy and other processed ingredients, with very minimal pure cacao added. It is said that for anything on the shelves to be called ‘chocolate’, it only requires 20-30% of actual cacao and the rest can be made up of other ingredients! Bingo! This is what makes Ceremonial Cacao different!
From bean to heart
Ceremonial Cacao from bean to heart is much more simple and pure, and is made in a traditional way with minimal processing, which means the beans still contain all or most of their natural compounds, full of nutrients! This means that we maximise its health benefits that support both physical and psychological wellbeing when drinking. The cacao beans, which are technically seeds, grow inside pods surrounded by a white fleshy pulp known as Baba.
The beans are taken straight from the pod, fermented, lightly roasted or sundried, removed from their shells and then ground down into the ‘cacao liquor’ that becomes solid at cooler temperatures. Nothing is taken out or added during this process, which is necessary for cultivating their flavour and activating certain natural compounds. Ceremonial Cacao is cultivated with intention, and in alignment with the Cacao Spirit.
This means the lands, the farmers, the process, and the finished cacao are treated with compassion, love, respect, and reverence for you to the enjoy and journey with. In buying cacao this way, we are also supporting the indigenous communities where it is grown and keeping their farms in business. So it’s important to use your discernment when choosing where to buy your cacao from! Known for it’s mental, physical and spiritual benefits, there’s no surprise that this beautiful plant medicine is being shared far and wide.
Cacao is known for its very many health benefits. As one of the highest plant-based sources of magnesium on the planet, it is packed full of anti-oxidants and feelgood compounds, making it a delicious and natural way to boost your mood and support your well-being. Here are some of its amazing benefits:
• Heart opener and enhances meditation, yoga practices: a ceremonial dose connects people with the spirit of cacao to help release blockages around the heart and heal emotional wounds.
• Natural energy boost: no jitters or caffeine crash
• Rich in potassium, amino acids, zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium.
• Zero sugar: a healthier chocolate alternative!
• Contains chemicals that help rejuvenate old cells, thus providing anti-ageing benefits and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
• Aids with relaxation and sleep.
• Relaxes the nervous system as well as the busy ‘thinking mind’, enabling us to access the deeper layers of consciousness that often go unnoticed or neglected.
• Induces feelings of peace, calm and harmony.
• Balances blood sugar levels, and the blood flow to the brain, creating more mental agility, awareness and focus.
• Renowned for releasing dopamine and endorphins in the body, which soothe symptoms of PMS as well as depression and anxiety, by boosting our overall mood.
• Boasts its fair share of phenylethylamine, aka the ‘love drug’. In other words, it contains the same chemical our bodies release when we fall in love!
• Promotes feelings of joy and bliss: cacao contains anandamide which is known as the ‘bliss’ molecule.
• The antioxidants in theobromine have been shown to lower blood pressure, thus lowering the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Gemma Alvino is the founder of Cacao Calling, which sources ceremonial grade cacao from Peru and Ecuador. Visit: cacaocalling.co.uk
CACAO TO COFFEE CHALLENGE
For 21 days, ditch your coffee for a daily dose of cacao and see what changes happen.
Are you being called to take on the cacao challenge? Then it’s time to ditch the coffee! For many of us, starting the morning with a cup of coffee is one of life’s small joys. But have you ever wondered what happens to your body when you drink coffee every day?
Between anxiety, jitters, afternoon crashes, and a potential caffeine dependency, it can all leave you feeling pretty sluggish. Cacao Calling has an alternative — yes, adding a daily dose of chocolate into your diet! Unlike coffee, which comes from the Coffea plant, cacao results from the cultivation of the Theobroma tree. The main ingredient in coffee is caffeine.
In cacao, the stimulating effects are derived from the obromine, a member of the same alkaloid family as caffeine but instead it works as a naturally-occurring stimulant. That means you’ll get the same boost of energy that coffee gives, except it lasts longer, is softer and without all the nasty side effects. Drinking Ceremonial Cacao is a great way to slowly transition away from high caffeine drinks altogether. It’s simple: for 21 days, you just ditch your coffee for a daily dose of cacao and see what changes happen for you.
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.