An Introduction to Ceremonial Cacao

Cacao is a gentle yet powerful plant teacher who is here to help us reconnect with our heart-guided soul path in this life. Her  (she's often referred to as a feminine spirit) heart medicine has been honored & stewarded by indigenous Mesoamerican cultures (Pre Olmec, Olmec, Maya & Aztec to name a few) for over 4,000 years, and the Cacao bean's unique chemical makeup has earned the scientific name "The Food of the Gods."

Cacao's active ingredients increase blood flow in your body and help you reconnect with your intuition, so you can get clear on your heart's deepest desires. Drinking ceremonial Cacao releases 'feel good' chemicals in your brain resulting in an expansive, uplifted state where you can experience more love, more radiance, and more courage to fully be seen.

Cacao’s origin is from Latin America - there is a debate about whether it started in Central or South America, but we do know that there are 2 primary origin strains, one called Criollo which originated in Guatemala & Mexico. The other is Forestero which originated in Peru and South America. While Cacao grows within 20 degrees of the equator, Cacao has been found on pottery remains from all across the Americas. The cacao beans were used as currency at one time, and the Aztec rulers were renowned for drinking endless cups of the cacao beverage.

The Maya people of Guatemala have been in sacred relationship with Cacao for thousands of years. The Popul Vuh, the Maya creation story, references the Cacao tree as a sacred tree gifted to them by Quetzacoatl, the feathered serpent and their God of Wisdom. This is similar to the Tree of Life archetype found in other creation stories around the world. Cacao is still used by Maya people today in celebrations, weddings, and by midwives in preparation for labor, and is a highly revered tree.

Much of the knowledge of ancient ceremonies and rite of passage rituals was lost when the indigenous cultures were conquered 500 years ago. Cacao ceremonies in their current form have had a resurgence in the past 10 years due to an increasingly popular teacher, Keith, The Cacao Shaman, who is based in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

The Physical Benefits of Cacao

  • Cacao has more than 500 complex compounds giving many different possible flavor profiles depending on the location of the tree, the soil condition, and the plants growing around it.
  • It’s one of the strongest antioxidants and has over 600 antioxidant compounds. As a comparison, blueberries have ~60.
  • It’s a vasodilator, meaning it relaxes the blood vessels to allow more blood to move through your veins. This is a great thing for cardiovascular health.
  • In ceremonial doses (1-2oz) cacao can increase your blood flow by 40%
  • Cacao is one of the best natural food sources of magnesium, of which 80% of Americans are deficient.
  • It has multiple compounds that are mood uplifting - including MAO inhibitors allowing for more serotonin uptake, anandamide, phenylethalamine & tryptophan.
  • It’s powerful for increasing focus.
  • A stimulant called Theobromine provides an energy boost that is much more mild than caffeine.

Cacao & Opening Your Heart

  • When working with ceremonial cacao, increased blood flow means more energy is moving through your heartspace, and the electromagnetic field of your heart is expanded. The Heart Math Institute measured the diameter of the electromagnetic field of an average person's heart at 9 feet. That was limited by the equipment's measuring capacity, and it could very well be larger. Cacao can amplify one's heart field substantially, and when working with it in group settings the effect is exponentially amplified.
  • As more blood moves through you there is more energy available to break down physical, energetic and emotional barriers.
  • The ancient Aztec word for chocolate is ‘xocoatl’ which means 'heart blood'. The Mayan word 'chokolaj' means 'drinking chocolate together'. Cacao has been used to support heart connection and deepen community ties since ancient times.

Cacao & Spiritual Connection

  • IxCacao is one of the Mayan names for the Cacao Spirit.
  • Ceremonial cacao is an amplifier. It is a beautiful support for intention setting.
  • Cacao is a tree, and can be a very grounding experience depending on how it is worked with. It is a powerful bridge to allow us to connect more easily to Earth & Tree wisdom.
  • South American Shamanism attributes specific energies to different plant medicines. Cacao is a feminine energy and is here to help us rebalance the masculine & feminine within ourselves and the collective. In contrast, Coffee is a left brain energy that supports linear, logical ways of thinking. Cacao is helping rewire our brains to enhance our connection with our creativity, intuition, and non-linear ways of being.
  • Increased blood flow increases our capacity to receive information from other realms. This medicine will support your exploration of inner and outer worlds, as you wish.
  • Because Cacao is a powerful antioxidant and increases blood flow, it helps decalcify the pineal gland which is important for opening up our spiritual channels.


  • Antidepressants (cacao is often worked with as a natural antidepressant and can result in too much serotonin in the brain = migraines)
  • Epilepsy medication
  • Pregnant or breast feeding (usually a decreased dose is OK, but it’s important to consult with your doctor)
  • Low blood pressure medication, or other heart medication

Do you have anything to add that I didn't cover in this introductory overview of cacao? How has cacao impacted your life? Add it in the comments below!

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P.S. There are still some spaces left for my Summer Solstice virtual cacao ceremony on June 22nd. You can grab your spot here, registration closes on 6/7 at midnight!

*As a heart-full supporter of Firefly Cacao, I receive a commission when you purchase via the link above, at no cost to you.