As soon as the hot cacao hit my lips, I felt a rush of serotonin flood through my body. After a long day of hiking through the Sierra Nevada mountains in Santa Marta, Colombia, our tour ended with steaming cups of cacao to send us on our way. Being an avid Whole Foods shopper, this wasn’t the first time I had heard of cacao, but it was the first time I experienced it’s astounding neurological effects and learned just how super this superfood is.
The History of Cacao
Cacao is regarded to be of divine origin for tribes throughout the Tayona region of Colombia and is known as “the drink of the gods.” It has been used for thousands of years in Mexico, Central and South America for divine and sacred ceremonies as a sign of respect for both life and fertility. As a powerful aphrodisiac, the ingestion of cacao triggers the release of endorphins and pleasurable opium-like neurochemicals while dilating and increasing blood flow. Through ritualistic ceremony of drinking the hot cacao, indigenous tribes practice sacred tantric sex and opening of the third eye to find a higher state of consciousness and honor their gods.
The third eye, or pineal gland, is a tiny endocrine organ in the forehead that you may know as our sixth chakra. With countless meditations and yogic practices built up opening it and actualizing our consciousness, it is no surprise my attention was caught when our tour guide, Jungle Joe, spoke of the ceremonies the tribes held honoring cacao and the third eye.
Over the centuries, the pineal gland has become more of a “fad” to those disconnected from its revered power, but the tribes today in Tayrona continue to celebrate its mysticism and ability for leaders to forge a conscious connection to the gods. What the tribes lack in written accounts, they make up for in a bountiful supply of spoken stories passed from generation to generation of tribe leaders to keep their ceremonial cacao rituals intact.
The Benefits of Raw Cacao
There are three side effects on humans when consuming raw cacao. The first being that it acts as an aphrodisiac, which is why indigenous use it in ceremonies as a practice prior to sex. The second is that it releases serotonin and endorphins, creating feelings of happiness and a relaxed state of mind. The third side effect of cacao is that it dilates the blood vessels, making its consumption incredible for your cardiovascular health.
Outside of these side effects, 100 grams of raw cacao has over 100,000 units of antioxidants, magnesium, copper, zinc, potassium, natural fats and fibers, and iron. This superfood is one of the richest in the entire world – but only when cooked right.
During our tour with Jungle Joe, the emphasis on preparation of raw cacao was key to their culture. In each family, only the grandmother has the knowledge and ability to prepare the bitter drink, a tradition that has been passed down for thousands of years. Most chocolate you’ll find in the states has only 5% of the rich benefits of raw cacao, but when cooked traditionally and served as a hot drink, you can receive an astounding 27% of its benefits. This idea alone made me curious as to how we can truly incorporate this superfood into modern society.
Using Cacao In Modern Day
Since the beginning of its use, cacao has fostered a connection with consciousness through ceremony and the release of “happy” endorphins. With its rise in western cultures, we benefit from learning how ancient cultures honored this sacred food and how we can now use it in our own practices.
While the indigenous tribes used cacao ceremonies as a holy practice before performing sex, we can adapt this sacred ceremonial practice in a way to foster a greater connection to self and our community. Across the globe, cacao ceremonies are beginning to pop up, offering a place for those interested to learn about this divine food and take part in a specially-curated cacao ceremony.
Because the consumption of raw cacao promotes feelings of openness and ecstasy, it allows the consumer to access a vulnerability within and connect to a source of self-love and understanding. There is increased blood flow and nutrition to the brain, heart, and skin leaving the whole body nourished while awareness and focus are heightened and sensations are intensified. By working with the heart and third eye, cacao ceremonies can provide a path of self-transformation through meditation and reflection of your higher self in a safe and sacred community.
By passing down the spoken stories of raw cacao from Mexico, Central, and South America, we guide our modern day usage of the superfood to be one of a spiritual and ritualistic practice. While the context of the ceremony has begun to shift from its indigenous use, as a community we can come together to maintain the sanctity and the divination of its original purpose and respect all that have practiced before us.