We had a chat with Kasia, of Wild Cacao Magic and our Events Manager at 42 Acres Shoreditch, about the wonders of cacao, and how it can be an active plant medicine when experienced ceremonially. Kasia hosts cacao ceremonies around London, holding a space for people to connect with themselves on a deeper level, and create some profound bonds with one another.
What is cacao good for?
Cacao is the raw form of chocolate and a powerful plant medicine. While it is often grouped with other plant medicines that induce a more altered state, cacao is only mildly psychoactive and you don’t get high from consuming it.
Cacao was considered more valuable than gold in some ancient South and Central American civilisations. Often referred to as the ‘Food of the Gods’, we now know cacao is packed full of incredible nutrients and chemicals that are really beneficial for our physical and mental wellbeing.
Cacao contains those feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin, as well as anandamide (the ‘bliss molecule’). It is also the most nutritious superfood (sorry blueberries!) containing antioxidants, iron, magnesium and zinc; adding cacao to your diet can be a fantastic way of supporting your health.
Cacao is often referred to as a ‘heart-opening’ plant medicine. What does this mean? A vasodilator and mild stimulant, it encourages the dilation of the blood vessels, encouraging blood flow around the body. Aside from the fantastic health benefits, Cacao helps induce a deep meditative state, enabling us to dive deep into our inner wisdom, without the outside noise of the rational, left brain. Using Cacao ceremonially and with ritual helps create a sacred and safe space for deep self inquiry and exploration. We already have all of the answers within, a Cacao ceremony should be a place for you to explore rather than be ‘fixed’ or ‘healed’ by a facilitator. The medicine is a way of empowering yourself to access your true Self, something we allow ourselves such little time for.
Why Cacao? Why do you think it’s become so popular now? What is it people are yearning for.
Cacao is a very safe and accessible plant medicine. There are few contraindications and it is generally suitable for most people. Other, more intense plant medicines require serious medical consideration, diets and often trips to far away places, while cacao is safe and easy to use on a regular basis, at home or at a guided ceremony. Cacao also grows in abundance, which is nature’s way of telling us that we can use or consume something regularly!
I believe the time of the guru is over, yet people are still looking for meaning, purpose and truth, and are turning to alternative routes and means. Cacao supports access to personal wisdom, as well as healing and growth, making it an ideal way of finding answers or clarity without having to search outside of yourself. Many people experience an incredible emotional release with cacao: like any plant medicine, it comes with a purge. It’s a good idea to keep some tissues handy. I have personally experienced some amazing emotional releases and realisations of clarity, and have processed some really big emotions during cacao ceremonies.
Where do you source your cacao?
I only source my cacao from Ritual Cacao, a company owned by my teacher, friend and mentor Rebekah Shaman, who I was blessed to apprentice with. The cacao comes from one of two locations, either from the Ashaninka tribe in Peru or the Tsatsayaku tribe in Ecuador. I tend to use the Tsatsayaku cacao more, it’s so creamy! There is a co-operative set up over in Ecuador which means the families who are part of this manage the cultivation, harvest and export of the cacao. It’s fair trade and the community is able to work in harmony with the land. If you buy any kind of cacao from Ritual Cacao, 10% of the proceeds go to the Amaru Fund, set up to help support and protect the rights of indigenous communities, wildlife and rainforest. It’s really important to me that is no suffering as a consequence or side effect of this spiritual practice that I share with others.
Tell us about your first ceremonial experience of cacao
My first experience with cacao came after another plant medicine experience, as I was looking for a way to integrate the experience that I had. I went to a woman’s womb healing cacao session in West London and the experience was so beautiful, connecting and profound. I was surprised at the depth, clarity and the emotion of the session, and I was sold immediately!