When it comes to superfoods, cacao can’t be left out. With more than 1,200 different chemical ingredients, cacao beans are one of the richest and most complex foods man know. We have collected 10 health facts about this powerful beans you should know:
Cacao consumes serotonin, dopamine, tryptophan and anandamide. All of them have a mood-lifting effect on us humans and can enhance our sense of well-being.
The flavonoids in cacao dilate blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure and increases energy. They also help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels and are a weight loss approach that improves cardiovascular health.
Cacao as a superfood contains 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries. They can protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals, known as oxidative stress.
There are also huge amounts of Phenylethylamine (PEA) raw cacao. PEA serves as an energy booster and increases alertness and concentration.
Cacao increases high-density lipoprotein levels(HDL).HDL, the so-called “good cholesterol”, and the higher the level, the lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Raw cacao has more calcium than cow’s milk, up to 160 mg per 100g. Quantitatively, calcium is the most important mineral in the human body. Almost 100% of calcium is contained in bones and teeth – it keeps bones and teeth stable.
The alkaloid theobromine, found in cacao, is thought to block the action of sensory nerves and interrupt the cough reflex. In addition, it also has a similar effect on the human organism as caffeine, which boosts alertness.
Cacao beans are by far the highest vegetable source of iron, containing 46.8 mg/100g, while spinach, which is said to be rich in iron contains only 4.1 mg/100g.
Cacao is also among the top performers when it comes to magnesium. It contains up to 500 mg/100g which is why cacao can also relieve the symptoms of PMS.
When we are talking about ceremonies, the term rituals often comes up as well. Many of us think a ritual and a ceremony mainly describe the same, but they don’t. There is a small but subtle difference between both of them. In the following blog post we will explain to you the meanings of each term. After that you may also understand why we talk about a cacao ceremony and not a ritual.
First of all let’s clarify the term “ritual”
Broadly spoken, a ritual is an action which will be repeated over and over in a consistent way. Unlike habits we all have integrated in our daily lives, rituals are meant to have a positive impact for you and your inner peace of mind. They bring inner peace, support and stability. In order we can center ourselves and gain strength for our everyday life.
For closer understanding here’s a little example:
If you get up every morning and put on your bathrobe first, brush your teeth and then do your hair, it’s more a habit than a ritual. On the other hand, if you go sit down on the terrace with a cup of raw cacao after getting up in the morning, spend 20 minutes enjoying nature and breathe in morning air while listening to the wind and birds around you, it is a ritual. By performing rituals like this, you become more focused and rational to manage your everydays life.
However, a ceremony is a festive act. It follows a set order or a rite* which usually has a symbolic nature, such as a wedding or a welcoming ceremony at state receptions. It is usually performed with a certain intention to request a specific result. In many cases it is also built on one or more rituals. But even if it is repeated now and then, a ceremony will never become a ritual. Even though one and the same person repeats it.
A ceremony always stays a ceremony
While a ceremony always stays a ceremony, an everyday ritual on the other hand can transform into a ceremony. You just need to attach a larger ceremonial value to the action and celebrate your ritual as a feast. For example: If we shape our morning ritual more festive by making preparations, drumming on a pow wow in the beginning. And if we also do it for a special reason on a specific day – such as the first morning after new moon to thank nature for it’s beauty – our morning ritual becomes a ceremony.
In conclusion to all of that, you can say that rituals and ceremonies have an important healing function for each one of us but also for society. That is why it is so important to integrate them in our lives.
*A rite essentially describes a settled order of performing mostly ceremonial or religious actions. They fall into three major categories: rites of passage, communal rites and rites of personal devotion.
Create a comfortable and relaxing space somewhere in your home where you won’t be disturbed. It is essential to create an environment where you feel safe. Make your space personal, choose objects that inspire you to help you get into the right setting. Find inspiration of what you love, you can have a deck of oracle cards, essential oils, crystals, your favorite music, a journal, some fresh flowers, candles, just anything that supports you to relax and feel connected to yourself. You may even like to smudge your space with a sage stick or palo santo.
Now it is time to prepare the cacao. You can find our recipe here. Take your time and start thinking about your intentions as you prepare it. Mindfully connect with every element of the cacao- making process. Feel the structure of the cacao and smell the cacao while you pour it into your favorite mug.
Holding your cup of ceremonial cacao in both hands, it is now time to connect to the feeling of gratitude and set your intention. Look at the cacao in your cup. Ask yourself what no longer serves you in your life and let it go. Subsequently, invite into your life a wish, a desire, a heart-longing (ask yourself; “How do I want to feel? What am I ready to call into my life?”). Intentions are a wonderful way to help you reconnect with what matters most. Trust that your intuition and the spirit of cacao is guiding you.
Bring your cup to your heart space, perhaps you can visualize sending your intention into the cacao or whisper your intention into the cup. Smell the aroma and take your first sip. Close your eyes and taste it fully, feeling the liquid travel down your throat and through your body. Release expectations and listen to your body as energies begin to shift.
Allow for deep introspection, emotions to unravel and new ideas to come. Let your heart open and your creativity flow. Journal, meditate, listen to sacred music, dance. Do whatever feels right to you.
Take as much time as you need to mindfully drink your cacao. You can finish your cup, or not, it is totally up to you.
Once you are ready, it is time to close the ceremony. You can close the ceremony by repeating your intention one more time and sending your gratitude to the cacao and its spirit.
When creating a ceremony or ritual for yourself, trust your intuition and do what feels good for you! Don’t forget to drink some water.
We truly hope you enjoy creating your own sacred cacao ceremony at home and we would love to hear all about it.
Do you want to dive deeper into moderating a cacao ceremony? Maybe you are interested in our Cacao Facilitator Course.
Have you ever tried to replace your cup of coffee for a cup of cacao? For all of you who are hooked on your morning lattes and afternoon espresso’s will find this an interesting read.
Research shows that cacao is a healthier alternative. So, if you love the way coffee makes you feel, you will get a similar effect from drinking cacao, but with many more health benefits.
While the caffeine in coffee is intense, strong, fast acting and can be addictive, the theobromine in cacao is gentle, mild, long lasting and non-addictive.
The theobromine in cacao is a mild stimulant that last for longer than caffeine, it gives a softer and longer sustained focus and energy. While caffeine is an alkaloid that works on the nervous system and this can result in a more nervous energy.
Not convinced yet?
Here are some additional benefits to start drinking cacao as a healthy coffee alternative:
Cacao contains a large number of minerals with high amounts of iron, copper, manganese, and zinc. It’s an excellent source of magnesium, a mineral that is essential to most of the body’s important biological processes. Cacao also contains antioxidants to keep your cells healthy and support your immune system.
Cacao contains anandamide ((the “bliss” chemical in our bodies), serotonin (the “feel-good” chemical in our brains), and tryptophan (a natural antidepressant amino acid).
Just a small serving of raw cacao triggers the brain to release feel-good endorphins and increases blood flow to the brain. It provides you with naturally occurring mood-enhancing compounds that have been shown to improve focus, mood, and energy. In contrast to the caffeine in coffee, which increases a neurotransmitter that signals the release of the stress hormone cortisol.
Despite being a stimulant, theobromine can actually help you to sleep at night as it helps to balance brain chemistry. While caffeine can make it harder to fall asleep.
Ancient Mayan texts described cacao to be “heart opening” and even modern research shows that the active ingredient theobromine widens the blood vessels and stimulates the heart.
Cacao opens the heart and allows you to deeply connect with yourself and others in a deeper, more authentic loving way. Fear and anxiety will be replaced with love and joy.
Sun and moon. Light and dark. Day and night. Inhale and exhale. There are binaries that exist in nature. They are each essential and fundamental for the existence of the other. There is no daytime without the nighttime. There is no exhalation of breath without the inhalation of breath.
Everyone has masculine and feminine energies. Cacao is known for gently balance both energies, allowing us to live life more effective, filled with complete harmony. The female energies allow you to receive inspiration and the masculine energy allows you to act on it.
Cacao enables you to connect with your inner spirit and wisdom, allowing for more profound meditation. Meditation will be easier and more beneficial, quieting the mind becomes easy and it allows you to focus more on the present moment, gives you mental clarity and it works on your body, mind and soul.
Cacao can help you find mental clarity. The medicine can help you change your perspective, enabling you to recognize and let go of limiting beliefs, outdated patterns, past traumas and old habits that do not serve you any longer. You can be reminded of your talents, skills, creative ability and life purpose.
Cacao invites us to slow down and intentionally set time aside for ourselves. Stepping out of our daily hustle to connect with our higher self.
When the mind calms, you will create space for healing and creativity. New inspiration and creative ideas will flow with ease. Invisible obstacles will disappear, making room for new inspiration. Getting clarity on your talents and skills and connect with your creative abilities such as; writing, painting, dancing, making music. You will be surprised at how creative you are.
The theobromine in the cacao gives you a longer and softer energy without the peak and dip that many people experience from e.g. the caffeine in coffee. The cacao gives you an energy boost and grants you the energy you need throughout the day. It will even allow you to better accomplish your daily tasks.
As the cacao opens your heart (the gateway to your inner spirit and wisdom) you will experience a stronger connection with the higher self (intuition, soul, God,). This connection will guide you to follow your own path and truth. You will become aware of things that have been keeping you from living the life you love and receive strength in letting them go. Cacao can lead you to a healthier lifestyle in body and spirit.
In this article we show you how you can create your own altar for your home or any place you want to.
WHAT IS AN ALTAR?
An altar is a sacred space to connect with spirit and use for rituals, ceremonies and prayers. It has alway been used in most religions. Usually you find them in shrines, churches, temples and other worshipping places as well as known to use little home altars.
And also shamanic tribes have been using altars to focus on holding space, connect with the spirits and worshipping their ancestors during the ceremonies and rituals.
You find altars everywhere, in entries, in front of buildings, in the middle of buildings, in corners of a room, at beaches, on top of the mountains or even in cars.
WHERE TO SET UP AN ALTAR?
An altar doesn’t need to be big, it can also be just as big as a shoebox. So, don’t worry, if you don’t have the space in your room. You can also find a little table and decorate it with a sarong or piece of fabric.
As long as you have the right intention – should it be more in a quiet area in the corner, close to a window with lots of light and fresh air or in the middle of the room as the center of your rituals and ceremonies?
Find a place that resonates with you and the way you worship, pray and practise your rituals.
BUILD YOUR ALTAR
You may want to use elements that reflect and symbolize the connection with mother earth and your spirit. In the shamanic path we are usually working with the five elements earth, water, fire and air and spirit.
You may want to include all of the five elements onto your altar to include all 5 basic elements. Each element can be symbolized by certain elements from nature or with a spiritual or personal meaning.
Elements of the Earth:
Earth energy is grounding, connects us with the sacred feminine and represents our mother earth.
Elements of the Water:
Water energy is dynamic and flowing. It represents our emotions, intuition, healing and reflection.
Elements of the Air:
Air energy stands for knowledge and the power of the mind. It stimulates courage and bravery.
Elements of the Fire:
Fire energy is powerful and stands for creative energy, manifestation, inspiration, strong will power and sexual energy.
Elements of the Spirit:
Spirit energy represents our life force that encompasses and is the creator of all. It can include the spirits of our ancestors and the healing forces which can move the elements of our world and connect between different worlds.
Different tribes have different orders on how to layout the different elements on your altar.
Native Americans: Earth (north, Water (east), Fire (South) and Wind/Air (West)
Andeans: Fire (east), Earth (South), Water (West), Air (North)
Spirit is always in the center.
It’s up to you how you want to place the elements as long as you do it with your intention.
Now its your turn.
Create your own altar and post your result! We can’t wait to see your beautiful sacred creation.
A cacao ceremony is an opportunity for you to connect with yourself, your true essence and with the others around you. With the help of cacao, you will be guided to open your heart and to let go of what no longer serves you.
Cacao ceremonies have been around for thousands of years and are a form of shamanic healing. It’s believed that cacao was used by the Mayans and Aztecs in Central and South America for spiritual, medicinal and ceremonial purposes for inner awakening and creative guidance. For the Mayans and Aztecs, the cacao plant was sacred, giving the plant a Latin name Cocao meaning “Food of the Gods” and was so highly valued that the cacao beans were used as currency.
In today’s ceremonies, you will slowly sip cacao, allowing the plant-medicine to open your heart and share of what you want to let go and what you are calling in. The cacao will work gently on your body, mind and heart.
With the help of the cacao you will be able to open your heart completely, releasing and healing the energetic blockages that keep you from living up to your highest potential. The plant-medicine silences the mind and connects to the wisdom and spirit within you. Cacao brings us back to the feeling of love, oneness and connection.
Every cacao ceremony is different, some consist of sitting in circles, sharing and singing. While others let you explore through movement, in combination with yin yoga, or even ecstatic dance. The most important thing is that the ceremony gives you space to safely connect and to open your heart.
Are you ready to explore the wonderful and healing benefits of cacao yourself?