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Cacao experience | Ceremonial cacao | Keith's original writings | Keith's wisdom | Shamanic journey

Cacao Synergies: Combining Cacao with Other Substances

This blog post is an extract from the original writings of Keith Wilson, the Chocolate Shaman. For more recent info on all things Ceremonial Cacao, visit our main blog For the Love of Cacao.

Cacao with Psychedelics

Cacao is an excellent synergistmost known for combining well with psilocybin mushrooms. There is much evidence on the historical, anthropological, and contemporary usage of Cacao with psychedelics in southern Mexico. t I have met many people who use Cacao to extend the deeper portion of their plant-medicine journeys. I recommend taking Cacao about 30-45 minutes before you would begin to surface from inward depths. 

Cacao is rarely used by the ‘Ayahuasca’' shamans. They tend to separate themselves from the ‘Cacao Shamans’ in the Amazon. However, as Cacao has significant MAOIs, some people take Cacao mixed with Ayahuasca to reduce the DMT degradation in the stomach. We, in fact, know of many people that use Cacao instead of the typical MAOI-based plant that is combined with the Ayahuasca-containing plant. The subsequent journey tends to be grounded and profound. To extend this journey, it is advisable to take additional Cacao 30-45 min before one begins to leave the depths of this voyage. Replacing the MAOI-based plant in Ayahuasca with Cacao is bound to become much more common because it works! Some use a full ceremonial amount of Cacao the next day to facilitate recovery and integration.

In general, larger amounts of Cacao taken with Ayahuasca, Peyote, or San Pedro (even an hour later) may add to the purging process. An increasing number of Westerners use Cacao this way, though few indigenous teachers do. 

Dosage Recommendation for Psychedelics

Portion size is to be taken into consideration when combining Cacao with psychedelics. A full dose of both a psychedelic and Cacao together can easily lead to an overdose due to 40% more psychedelic-saturated blood pumping around the body from the Cacao. We recommend trying 1-1.3oz (28-38g) of Cacao or less while also considering using a reduced dose of the psychedelic until you know your own experience. Alternatively, begin with a full ceremonial amount of Cacao and less psychedelic for a harmonious balance.

Many opt for microdosing with Cacao and very low doses of a psychedelic to expand insight. If you wish to do this, we recommend taking the Cacao with whatever you use to microdose - or up to 40 minutes later.

A Note on MDMA

Medical literature says that taking stimulants or MDMA (Ecstasy) with MAOIs can lead to a severe high blood pressure crisis. However, the MAOIs in Cacao come with a ’vasodilator’ and therefore do not cause these high blood pressure problems.

Cacao and Vervain

I have been offering Vervain tea as an optional addition to the Cacao in ceremony for quite some time now. Vervain is a local, small, white-flowered weed here in Guatemala (though a European adventive of disturbed soil). Well-known as a medicinal herb, I have also found it to be an excellent spiritual synergist with Cacao. There seems to be a consensus among those familiar with Cacao that one feels the energy from ceremony much faster when taking Vervain simultaneously.

Just before the ceremony, I will mix a bunch of fresh vervain flowers from the garden with water in the blender, then strain. This I add to the Cacao brew after any sweetening is dissolved, as Vervain cools the warm Cacao brew.

If you purchase Vervain as dried leaves or powder, I recommend using a rounded teaspoon of Vervain per person, made with the water that you're going to use for the Cacao. Then, allow it to steep (with the dried hot chili if you are adding any) and strain the mixture to remove the particles. Reheat only if it's not warm enough to soften the Cacao. When the temperature is high enough, add the Cacao. After a minute, as the Cacao becomes soft, whisk to break it up and then add any optional sweetening. Vervain, like Cacao, is a bitter plant, so some people avoid using it due to its taste. 

Most store-bought Vervain in North America is sold as Blue Vervain (Latin: Verbena Hastata). The European species is called ‘Verbena Officinalis’. Both work perfectly fine.

A segment from ‘The Spiritual Properties of Herbs’ by Gurudas states that:

"Vervain helps to attain a deeper understanding of what occurs on the fourth dimension and how you interact on such a level, particularly with energy patterns that are formed on this other-dimensional plane before they come into physical existence. When Vervain is used, many processes of interdimensional energy transmission, reception, and utilization take place. Individuals who understand manifestation or work with creative visualization will benefit from using Vervain as it provides a greater understanding of your world, teaches you how to coexist with other levels of existence, and how to work, in many ways, on the fourth dimension. Attunement to such higher energies affects one’s psychic gifts and energy on the purer, undefined level of the intuitive process. In Lemuria, it was seen that, in mankind's future, the full understanding and vision of interdimensional energy would not be easy. The ‘Devic’ order associated with this plant was assigned to aid in this understanding, and the plant willingly took on this stimulation and focusing of energy from other dimensional levels."

A Shamanic user told me, “The blue Vervain has been a wonderful addition to my journey work. You speak the truth about this plant medicine! My friend and I have tried many varieties of Vervain, and it is exactly how you describe it to be. Vervain is an extremely powerful friend to work with during these times, and I send much gratitude to you for the work that you do.”

Lately, we have also been adding a common edible garden weed, ‘Galinsoga’ or ‘Gallant Soldier’ (Latin name: Galinsoga Parviflora), to the blended Vervain. We really enjoy the subtle yet high energetic ‘opening’ that occurs.

Cacao and Maya Nut

Cacao synergizes exceptionally well with Ujuxte/Maya Nut/Ramón (Brosimum alicastrum). The two grow together in the same ecosystem, the Maya Nut as canopy and Cacao as an understory. The Maya Nut provides a connecting base to support and stabilize all the Cacao upward expansion. 

The Maya Nut is the seed of the fruit of the largest canopy tree in the Central American rainforest. It was a staple food of the lowland Mayans before they became corn planters. It has only recently been discovered as a superfood, largely thanks to The Maya Nut Institute, one of the most needed and cleanest rainforest and people-saving environmental organizations around. 

The roasted-to-brown nut tastes a bit like chocolate or coffee. It makes for a great smoothie ingredient and is notable for its high calcium, tryptophan, high antioxidant content, and low glycemic index. Also great as a minor component in any baked good: bread, cake, muffin, brownie, and my favorite chili cornbread. I brought down a mill from the States, and we may ship finely ground smoothie-grade Maya Nut as we do the Cacao. I am sure you will feel more from this in a smoothie than with the equivalent amount of Maca! 

Maya Nut is by far our favorite synergist/superfood to mix with Cacao. I have seen many energetically sensitive people who would typically quickly down a cup of Cacao, get about halfway through a cup with a couple rounded teaspoons of Maya Nut in it, stop, and settle into a deeper energetic presence.

Cacao can also be combined with other superfoods, notably Maca. For me, an even better combination is Cacao with Mucuna Pruriens, especially a concentration like that from Ultimate Superfoods. 

Cacao and Milk

Scientific research suggests that cow's milk blocks the intestinal assimilation of flavonoids. Therefore, the ‘Cacao Spirit’ doesn’t welcome the combination of Cacao and cow's milk. If you wish to enjoy a milky flavor, use vegetable or grain-based milk. In my public ceremonies, the concoction shared is simply Cacao in hot water with concentrated chili-pepper ‘tea’ and a choice of sweetening available. A spoon incorporates the sweetening and helps to keep the Cacao particles in suspension while drinking. For some people, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger are a delicious addition.

Cacao and Coffee

Avoid coffee or other caffeinated drinks in the hours before taking a full ceremonial dose of Cacao. Caffeine can leave you feeling too ‘buzzy’ with little focus to sit for an intentional ceremony. Combining coffee and Cacao as a mocha drink is okay but not recommended for ceremonial purposes. 

Common hybridized varieties of Cacao tend to have more caffeine than native Central American varieties found north of Costa Rica. Some people prefer Cacao with more caffeine for physical activity and workplace purposes or for staying awake and focused while driving. I, and many others, prefer the Guatemalan varieties, which have lower caffeine content, and it's what we sell for inner work or Shamanic journeys. But, of course, it is always entirely your choice!

Cacao and Food

Taking Cacao with food or on a full stomach will slow down its assimilation, which may sometimes be what you want. Slower assimilation works well when engaging in activities such as hiking and dancing or when you must stay focused, creative and productive for long hours. Cacao has long been considered a great trekking nourishment. However, it’s good to remember that as a vasodilator, it may lead to extra heat loss in hypothermia conditions. Also, don’t forget that Cacao is a diuretic, so it’s essential to drink water following Cacao consumption, including the next day. 

Cacao is also a food and therefore acts like one! Very few people feel like eating if they have Cacao during their standard mealtime unless they eat food for emotional reasons. Leaving a Cacao ceremony early "because I had to eat" is a great indicator that the teacher, Cacao Spirit, has brought some uncomfortable emotions to the surface, which the participant may feel the need to push back down with food or other substances. 

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