“Chocolate is a divine, celestial drink, the sweat of the stars, the vital seed, divine nectar, the drink of the gods, panacea and universal medicine.” – Geronimo Piperni 

Since ancient times cacao has been used ceremonially to connect with the infinite presence of love. Jaya Lakshmi and Ananda’s Cacao ceremonies are a coming together to open the heart, express creatively and rejoice with the spirit of the cacao. Woven with heart songs, prayers and laughter, the ceremony is a time to express gratitude for the cacao spirit and allow for that spirit to blossom infinite possibilities within you. 

The Cacao that will be used is a very special type that a cacao shaman selected personally for its energetic qualities. It comes from Guatemala, the heartland of the Mayan people who have used it for millennia. We’ll learn about cacao’s origins, history, heath benefits and energetic/spiritual qualities and get to experience pure cacao with new levels of awareness and appreciation.

 Purpose of Cacao Ceremony 

“A cacao ceremony is an opportunity to connect to yourself and open your heart. Because of cacao’s ability to increase your connection to your inner self and your heart chakra, it aids in any transformational shift you are working towards, whether you are looking to deepen your understanding of who you are, release old patterns and traumas, or move into a more self-confident space. Whatever your path, the intention is yours to set, and the cacao allows you to the insight and awareness to move towards that goal.” Ruby Warrington 



Cacao can open the heart and allow you to connect with yourself and others in a deeper, more loving way. 


Cacao enables you to connect with your inner spirit and wisdom, allowing for more profound meditation. It allows you to focus more on the present moment and its remedying properties work on your body, mind and soul. 


Cacao can help build a bridge to inspiration, creativity and new ideas. You’ll find new meaning and purpose begin to flow with ease. 


Cacao can help you find mental clarity and balance. You can be reminded of your talents, skills, creative ability and life purpose. 


The light amount of caffeine in Cacao helps boost energy and mental clarity. 


Cacao can lift the burdens of life and the stresses of the day from your shoulders. You will find yourself more in tune with your positive side and more able to face difficulties and hardship. 


The spirit of cacao is said to show you where your heart is blocked. It is a gentle teacher and does not force you into healing. It can lead you to a healthier lifestyle in body, mind and spirit. You will become aware of things that have been keeping you from living the life you love and receive strength in letting them go. 

*Excerpts from Emilyn Gil 

Interested in a deeper dive?  Considering joining us for 7 days in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.  Known as one of the wonders of the world and rich in Mayan culture, this stunning place is perfect for an immersive and cultural experience of Mayan ceremony and cacao. For more info, CLICK HERE


Cacao has been used for centuries to heal the mental, physical and spiritual body. It is a natural and ancient plant medicine with a high concentration of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Cacao increases blood flow (oxygen and nutrients) to the brain as well as induces the release of feel-good endorphins.  

Cacao ceremonies are a type of shamanic healing which is one of the oldest holistic healing practices used by indigenous cultures all over the world. These types of healing ceremonies work with rebalancing energies in the body to regain health and wholeness. However, unlike other shamanic experiences or ceremonies, drinking cacao will not make you hallucinate or produce psychotropic experiences. Cacao ceremonies are more commonly used to connect one to the heart and guide the consciousness inward. That journey ultimately leading to a deeper sense of wholeness and connection.  


  • A heart opening journey of oneness, love and ecstasy  
  • Healing therapy – releasing blocks, recognizing patterns, following your heart  
  • Finding a connection to your highest self, your own power and truth  
  • A shamanic or spiritual journey  
  • A space to enter into meditation – being able to silence the mind, connect to the wisdom and spirit within you  
  • A balance of masculine and feminine energies in the body  
  • Enhanced creativity  

*Excerpts from Maeve Nelligan  


Cacao ceremonies that are popular in modern/western culture do not have a particular rigid format, but there are some common themes they typically involve. This is the way we hold our ceremonies and elements of this can be seen in many ceremonies that others hold.  

  1. Create a sacred space with an altar in the middle. Sit in a circle with whomever is participating.  
  2. We like to start with saging everyone in the circle and singing ceremony/heart centered songs. Then we move on to opening with an “Om” or an invocation of some kind. Honor and bless the cacao.  
  3. At that point we pass the cacao around and everyone takes a scoop of the cacao paste and holds it in their hang. We ask people to connect with the energy and spirit of cacao. Then Jaya Lakshmi calls in and honors the directions while Ananda typically drums or uses a shaker. For each direction, people partake of one seventh of their cacao scoop, so that the last direction finishes the scoop.  
  4. The first round of talking is to have each participant say their name and intention for communing with the Spirit of Cacao. This and the passing of cacao is always done to the left as to honor and flow with the energies of the circle and ceremony. Depending on the size of the group you may need to downsize to a single word/s. The cacao is not passed until the person speaking is done. The person sharing can eat their cacao once done speaking. After everyone has shared, we typically break up the talking with another song.  
  5. The next round is fairly open. We typically choose themes that will help facilitate the opening of the heart. Some themes include: honoring animal or plant spirit/s and a short reason for it, the meaning of love, a favorite flower and reason, etc. The same protocol is done as is done in the first round with the cacao and sharing.  
  6. The last round we allow for anyone to share from their heart. It is a time to tune in to how the cacao has softened their body and mind and opened their hearts. It's a time to inspire creativity, gratitude, and prayer. It can also be a time for healing and release. We like to do it popcorn style, where whomever is feeling the inspiration to share. We typically ask people to only share once and to hold space for others when they are sharing.  
  7. To close, we share a song and then have everyone bring their hands together with the person next to them. The fingers are pointed upward by the sides of the body. We then do a series of 4 “Om's”. One in that same position. Then one after we have raised the hands to the sky, hands still together. Then release the hands as they come to the earth along with the forehead and again chant “Om”. And the final is bringing the hands to the heart in prayer mudra.  

Emotional Benefits of Cacao Ceremony  

“Due to the euphoria inducing ingredients, the emotional impact can be profound. Everything feels heightened within the physical and emotional body, including your awareness to your deepest sense of self and to your heart. The experience of love and empathy, particularly for yourself, can literally feel as if your heart is opening like a flower. With this, the body can become flooded with the many emotions stored in the heart, some of which can be painful. It is not always an easy experience, and I have seen many tears shed as people peel away old layers of hurt. But as the cacao facilitates a deep sense of self-love, tears are always followed by smiles of deep gratitude. In other moments, the sheer ecstasy felt from the cacao can be described as nothing other than a divine experience.” Ruby Warrington  

“Working in a ceremony with the spirit of cacao means having the ability to travel to our inner self and reach our wisdom. This ceremony reconnects us with beauty, sweetness and love that lies within. Therapeutically, it helps us regain our power in relationships and to serve others.” Sara  

Health Benefits of Cacao  

Cacao has enormous health benefits for the physical, mental, emotional and energetic body. Physically, cacao enhances the immune system, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, increases vitality, creativity and concentration. Cacao is often used to change perspectives, enabling one to recognize and let go of repeated patterns or bad habits, release energetic blockages and what no longer serves. Naturally packed with theobromine, cacao gives a burst of energy that helps the mind focus and aids in memory. It is a creativity enhancer and facilitator of deep inner meditation and connection. *Excerpts from Maeve Nelligan  

A single cacao bean contains 54% fat (that’s the cacao butter), 31% carbohydrates (mainly fibre with a tiny amount of sugars), 11% protein (including arginine, glutamine and leucine), 3% polyphenols (flavonols and proanthocyanins) and less than 1% trace minerals including magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. (realfoods.co.uk)  

Cacao is rich in antioxidants and contains over 300 nutrients including magnesium, large amounts of iron, omega-6, vitamin C, chromium, trace elements, sulphur, zinc & copper to name just a few. Raw cacao contains nearly four times the antioxidant content of regular processed dark chocolate and 20 times more than blueberries.  

Raw Cacao vs Roasted  

The cacao shaman we work with has shared that the Spirit of Cacao prefers a slight roasting in order for better integration. In addition, it also kills off any harmful bacterias or funguses that may be on the raw beans. He recommends adding cayenne pepper to speed up digestion and integration. Sweetening is a personal preference. We typically do not sweeten.  

For general consumption, many health practitioners still love raw cacao. Many argue that you get more health benefits from consuming it raw. One thing that is agreed on is commercial processed cacao significantly eliminates these compounds. Studies have found that by adding dairy this actually blocks the absorption of antioxidants in chocolate. In addition, the cacao shaman that we have worked with says dairy significantly reduces the effects of cacao and is not recommended.  

Key Compounds in Cacao  

With over 1200 chemical constituents, the beans from Theobroma cacao is the most pharmacologically complex food in nature. Here are just a few that make cacao extra potent.  

-Theobromine: Has a stimulating effect of the central nervous system, similar to caffeine. Other plant sources of theobromine include kola nut, guarana, tea, and yerba mate. It can also help to dilate constricted blood vessels, which means it could have therapeutic use in treating high blood pressure.  

-Anandamide: A neurotransmitter produced in the brain that produces a state of heightened happiness. It’s synthesized in areas of the brain that are important in memory, motivation, higher thought processes, and movement control. It plays an important role in pain, appetite, and fertility. It also helps put the brakes on cancer cell proliferation. By increasing neurogenesis-the formation of new nerve cells-anandamide exhibits both anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties. Anandamide, like all neurotransmitters, is fragile and breaks down quickly in the body which is why it doesn’t produce a perpetual state of bliss.  

-Tryptophan: L-tryptophan is considered an essential amino acid because our bodies can't make it. It is important for the development and functioning of many organs in the body. After absorbing L-tryptophan from food, our bodies convert it to 5-HTP (5-hyrdoxytryptophan), and then to serotonin, melatonin, and vitamin B6 (nicotinamide).  

-Phenylethylamine: An organic compound that acts as a neurotransmitter in the body. It is a byproduct of the amino acid phenylalanine, which studies show improves focus, mood, and energy. Improves athletic performance, depression,weight loss, and to improve mood and attention.  

-Serotonin: An important chemical and neurotransmitter in the human body. It is believed to help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function.  

-Magnesium: Good for heart health, bone health and formation, calcium absorption, diabetes,migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome, relieving anxiety and muscle tension.  

-Polyphenols: Cacao contains natural antioxidants, phenolic compounds, suitable mainly for protection against heart disease. Usually present in plant foods, polyphenols also help prevent degenerative diseases, aging and even cancer cells. In a cup of Cacao you can find up to 100 mg of polyphenol antioxidants.  

-Neuromodulator Phenylethylamine (PEA): Helps the body create feelings of excitement and euphoria. It also assists us to pay attention and stay alert. With healthy amounts of PEA we stay focused, time slows down and we are not distracted by hunger or excess stimulation from the ‘outside world’. PEA also increases the effectiveness of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter related to joy.  

For many, cacao also stimulates the pituitary gland, which is located in our sphenoid bone in the brain. It is the principal gland of the body and rules many activities of the endocrine glands. These glands secrete hormones that regulate body functions.  

*Excerpts from Sara Gasparotto/Carlos Bobadilla  

Interested in a deeper dive?  Considering joining us for 7 days in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.  Known as one of the wonders of the world and rich in Mayan culture, this stunning place is perfect for an immersive and cultural experience of Mayan ceremony and cacao. For more info, CLICK HERE

Making Cacao   

There are five general steps to making cacao: fermentation, drying, roasting, peeling, and grinding. Once removed from the pod, the seeds are placed in wooden crates where they sit to ferment for 2 to 7 days. After the process of fermentation is complete, the farmers lay the seeds in the sun to dry for about a week. Once dried, the beans are transported to a processing facility where they are roasted, peeled and ground into a paste.   

Why is ceremonial cacao better?   

The main difference between conventional cacao and ceremonial cacao is the quality of the beans. Ceremonial cacao is made from heirloom varieties and special attention is placed in each step of the process, prioritizing quality over mass production. The result is a very unique product that tastes amazing and is also incredibly nutritious. *Excerpts from Eric and Florencia Fridman   

Ceremonial cacao boosters:   

Some of our favorite ingredients to pair with ceremonial cacao are rose, honey, maca, ashwagandha, medicinal mushrooms like Cordyceps, Rishi and lion’s mane, mesquite, cinnamon and cardamom. Cacao is a powerful adaptogenic and helps in assimilating medicines/foods that are combined with it.   


“Cacao beans grow in pods on trees of the Theobroma cacao species in tropical environments within 15 to 20 degrees latitude from the equator. During harvest, the pods are opened, the seeds are kept, and the empty pods are discarded. The seeds are then fermented, during which the cacao beans lose their purple hue and become mostly brown in color.   

According to fairtrade.org.uk, 90% of the world’s cocoa is grown on small family farms by about 6 million farmers who earn their living from growing and selling cocoa beans.   

Worldwide only three major species variations of Theobroma Cacao are cultivated: Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario. Arriba Nacional is the most delicate species, cultivated mainly in Ecuador. The name Theobroma Cacao, literally food of the gods, was given by the scientist Carl von Linnaeus in 1753. Cacao grows 20 degrees north and south of equator. This is called the 20/20 zone.   

Cacao loves well drained soils with a high content of organic matter and grows best in the shade of larger trees. Each cacao tree delivers a specific composition of nutrients, depending on the soil, the climate and the trees that are neighboring cacao. It goes along well with avocado trees, mango trees, bananas, coconut palms, coffee, pineapple trees and durian. Permaculture and diversity is naturally encouraged by cacao.   

In a good environment a young tree can bear fruits within three to five years. A mature cacao tree will produce about 50 fruits, which are harvested twice a year. The fruits develop into red, orange, yellow, blue or purple varieties. In five to six months a fruit pod ripens, containing 20-50 seeds, surrounded by a sweet pulp.   

73% of the global supply is produced by four countries in West Africa only. Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia and Nigeria produce over 90% of the global cacao supply. In March 2012 a tonne of cacao cost $2.359, in December 2015 $3.345. Europeans & North Americans consume 70% of the worlds cacao.” Serap Kara   

Interested in a deeper dive?  Considering joining us for 7 days in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.  Known as one of the wonders of the world and rich in Mayan culture, this stunning place is perfect for an immersive and cultural experience of Mayan ceremony and cacao. For more info, CLICK HERE

History of Cacao Ceremony    

“It’s thought cacao was first used as a health elixir and ceremonial medicine as far back as 1900 BC by the ancestors of Central America, the Olmec people, before becoming a ritualistic medicine used by the Aztec and Mayan cultures. Signifying both life and fertility, it was ingested by royalty in ceremonial worship and in sacrificial ritual.” Ruby Warrington    

The word cacao originated from the Maya word Ka'kau', as well as the Maya words Chocol'ha and the verb chokola'j "to drink chocolate together".    

Cacao was an intrinsic part of ancient Mayan and Aztec life, not just as a beverage or food, but as a pillar of their economies and an integral part of their religions, appearing in numerous spiritual ceremonies—even death rites and sacrifices.    

The spiritual link between cacao and the Maya is immediately apparent in their texts, although only a small handful remain of their bark codexes. The Popol Vuh or Book of Counsel, for example, includes many references to cacao. In one story, the severed head of a god is hung on a cacao tree. Another page depicts the maize god sprouting from a cacao pod. Cacao even features in their creation mythology: at another point in the Popol Vuh, when the gods are creating humans out of foodstuffs, cacao is one of those foods found in the Mountain of Sustenance (Coe 38-40).    

In Mayan creation mythology, humans are partially composed of cacao. In the Madrid Codex, an additional ancient Mayan text, four young gods bleed onto cacao pods, mingling the cacao and their blood.    

If cacao was “a sacred offering to the gods combined with personal blood-letting through the piercing or cutting of their own flesh” to the Mayans, this page is an excellent reflection of that close bond (Seawright 7).    

Cacao was prepared by priests for religious ceremonies, seeds were offered to the gods. Cacao was regarded sacred, such as blood and we find many blood offerings in the context of cacao in ceremony. Marriages required the ceremonial use of cacao due to its fertility aspects and was part of the the initiation of marriage negotiations    

Cacao was given for the birth of a child and was part of the baptism ceremony.    

“Cacao was cultivated by Mayas more than 2,500 years ago and it was called “Ku-Ku”. Ku in Mayan Language means Sacred and Ku-Ku “above sacred”. Aztecs learned from Mayas how to cultivate and prepare it, they called Cacao “Cacahuatl” and the bitter drink that they obtained from his fruits “Xocolatl”. This drink was consumed just by the emperor and nobility and is called Kakaw in some Mayan language which means “Drink of the Gods”.    

According to Mayan elders and archeologists, the spirit of cacao is one of the most powerful deities of Mayan cosmology. Mexican Shamans (Medicine Women/Men of Wisdom), cure mental, emotional and physical illnesses during ceremonies.” Sara Gasparotto/Carlos Bobadilla    

“The Aztecs learned from the Mayan how to grow and prepare it and how to make the drink of the Gods out of it. They used to call it "Cacahuat"; when they extracted the bitter drink from their seeds they called it "Xocolatl", which is where the name Chocolate comes from. It's important to mention that it was regarded as a very rare concoction reserved for and only consumed in those times by the Emperor and nobles.” Sara    

An Indigenous myth from these areas tells us that whenever the balance between humans and nature becomes threatened, cacao comes from the rainforest to open people’s hearts and return the planet to a state of harmony.    

The beans were also used as currency as a means of exchange for all types of goods. Beans have been found from New Mexico to Chile. During weddings, beans would be shared between the lovers to express their devotion and adoration for one another.    

“It’s also believed that cacao supported in the process of transcendence. When a maya leader or king died, they would place a bowl of cacao next to the body to support their transcendence. The mayas believed that when the soul left the body, one would go to the inframundo (underworld) and dwell in a battle. Cacao became a facilitator and support for the king or leader to win the battle and have the soul would enter the heavens.” Eric and Florencia Fridman    

“Weaving modern and ancient knowledge to serve the healing of Cacao on a global scale by offering heart opening, multidimensional experiences with this ancient seed. Cacao carries the blueprint of the New Earth Community. Together we are dreaming this Earth into reality. Cacao has the gift to give access to Mother Nature’s herbal pharmacy acting as a catalyst for many herbs and plants.” Serap Kara    

Works Cited and References    




Ruby Warrington    




Sara Gasparotto/Carlos Bobadilla    


Maeve Nelligan    


Emilyn Gil    




Ksenia Avdulova    




How cacao is prepared     


Cacao Ceremony    


Willow Francis and Catherine Francis    


Serap Kara