Ceremonial cacao | Keith's original writings | Keith's wisdom | Spirituality
This blog post is an excerpt from the original writings of Keith Wilson, the Chocolate Shaman, which were first published in 2012. For more recent info on all things Ceremonial Cacao, visit our main blog For the Love of Cacao.
Years ago, while living in Guatemala, a visit from the Cacao Deva or Spirit inspired me to go into an exploration of Cacao. She reminded me of what I knew from almost all guidebooks, that Cacao was one of the most powerful deities in ancient Mayan cosmology. I knew that chocolate was yummy, but a god? Surely someone here didn't know what they were talking about...
In my exploration, I reached out to Mayan Shamans who used alcohol and tobacco to induce altered states in their student trainings but came back with nothing. I talked to a local anthropologist who, in his 50 years in Guatemala, knew of no peoples using Cacao for ritual purposes. Friends apprenticing in Mayan Shamanism in the Mexican Yucatan knew nothing about Cacao, and neither did their teachers. Anthropology databases suggested Cacao was a stimulant but nothing more. Despite extensive web searches, I found nothing on the spiritual or ritual use of Cacao. The discrepancy between Cacao being held sacred by ancient spiritually focused cultures and the lack of information on contemporary spiritual use became obvious. Even Martin Prechtel's books, from his Lake Atitlan shamanic training in the 70s (his teacher used alcohol), reference nothing on spiritual Cacao. There was nothing out there that I could find.
I told the Cacao Spirit I had drawn a blank, but the adventure energy was clear! Two weeks later, I was volunteering on a botanist's project in a small community, 45 minutes sweltering walk up into the coastal rainforest mountains on the other side of our lake volcanos. I recognized Cacao growing on the walk into the community from all the web illustrations. After our day's activities, I asked our hosts, "Can I buy some Cacao?" "No," they said, "but if you come back in a week, we will have some made for you. How much do you want?"
I took the buses and the pickup trucks back a week later, walked into the mountains, visited, bought my 5 pounds (2.3 kg) of Cacao, and returned to the Lake. The next day, I took half of what the Deva/Spirit had suggested, as it seemed like a lot.
A few minutes later, I had finished washing the previous day's dishes and could feel Her in my body and field. It was clear that Cacao was an overlooked teacher and that I could play with it as a facilitator for the personal inner-work and processing that I had been trained to do and teach. We have been having fun ever since. I often go deep without Cacao – which I now know to be one of this world's most wondrous assistants – but I enjoy using and re-introducing Her in this way through my work. In the same way, She will partner with you in yours.
"My partner and I just spent this afternoon experiencing our first cacao journey and are both amazed and touched by how powerful it has been. We are both long-time meditators and inner explorers."
"Magic is becoming the fabric of everyday....with the help of the Cacao Spirit, doors are opening, and connections are happening fast. I literally feel like I am surfing a magical wave these days... Loving it!"
"I can't tell you how much the Cacao spirit is helping me. And I don't crave normal chocolate anymore, not even when it's my moontime! I have been addicted all my life. Thank you so much for bringing her :-).”
For me, a major advantage to ceremonial Cacao is that participants, once beyond the novelty of having their brain flushed with the 30-40% greater blood flow that Cacao brings, are able to hold a good multidimensional focus for at least 4-5 hours, allowing more time for deep work with much less mental or emotional fatigue. Many find that as their meditational focus-holding ability improves and they learn to work on other levels, a full ceremonial dose is no longer necessary. This same focus-holding ability is increasingly being used by artists, writers, coders, and anyone who needs to be productive, inventive, or make decisions in the workplace.
I haven't used a full ceremonial dose in years, not even when I test a new batch of Cacao for public sale. In the first years, I would drink a full ceremonial dose along with everyone else; now, I take 1/3 of what others are drinking, and often less on non-ceremonial days. As I write this, I am taking a break from international ceremonial travel, delighting in my own inner work, which is frequently without any Cacao at all. I often use 1/2 to 3/4oz (14-21g) with food to spread out the effect, perhaps in a green smoothie or fruit bowl. That's my flow.
Another significant advantage is that Ceremonial Cacao makes it much easier (for those who are willing) to deeply access the emotional body, pain-body, or density on the dark shadow side, or ready expansion and higher dimensional connection on the light shadow side. Especially in a vibrationally supportive, non-fixing, and non-judgmental setting, many go considerably deeper than they otherwise would. And understandings tend to lead to more permanent changes than those of many psychedelic trips. But because Cacao doesn't actually 'take' you anywhere, you must be willing to go there by your own choice. The heart-centered anchor that spiritual Cacao is, makes it much more likely that wherever one is going, it is with more love and less fear.
I know a fellow with an Ayahuasca website who ordered my Cacao and wrote back that he took it according to my website directions, and nothing happened. He was expecting to be taken somewhere and so went nowhere himself.
"…it was PHENOMENAL! I was able to journey deeper, with powerful insights, clarity, and stamina for the entire day."
"Mama Cacao is teaching me so much as I sit with her, and even when I'm not drinking her."
"Today's New York Times has an article citing a journal that shows an unusually high correlation between Nobel Prize winners and countries that consume a lot of chocolate!"
For those with an agreement to teach and heal with love, and who will therefore not allow themselves to progress without that love, sacred Cacao makes it easier to set down the big stick cultural paradigm of going within to eradicate whatever is wrong with them. Consider this: if there is a frightened kitten or puppy under the sofa, a big stick will only make it more fearful. In the same way, even 'positive affirmations' just exacerbate our inner conflict. Go find the 'negative' and put your arm around it instead. Expect that there is a gift within, or you wouldn't have put that negativity there in the first place.
Cacao, as a spiritual tool, is also helpful for assisting one beyond the cultural conditioning that pushing down and remaining in denial of negativity is the way to happiness. This belief is prevalent both within the believers and users of medical antidepressants and within the 'New Age' understanding of negative emotions as 'undesirable'.
You know the value of asking for help. When you try Cacao with clear intent, you will experience the cooperative partnership of 'The Food for the Shift'. Experience cacao with the meditation or journeying you do. Use, rather than judge. Trust where this teacher takes you! Use Cacao to foster deeper intimacy with your mate – as a connection and partnership facilitator. Use it for a stimulating buzz, a good social heart-centered interaction or conversation; great yoga, meditation, or ecstatic dance; for good sex, emotional or energetic intimacy; for journeying or other shamanic connecting, for dealing with addictions, or for taking breathwork to a whole other level. Use it for its excellent ability to foster emotional release or to facilitate creativity and to change your reality on inner levels, to get high, to go deep – the choice is yours! Explore it as a fantastic facilitator in any group activity, from therapy to a wedding. Bring it into your business. From corporate work to writing to music - Cacao is the best productivity and focus-enhancer around, as it connects one to wherever they source their insight, inspiration, and ideas, all flowing with an open heart. This teacher will take you to any place where you have an inner business and help you with the relevant issues when you get there. This is 'the food for the shift'!
Yes, Cacao is a 'drug', as are all medicine plants. And, like anything else, it is not for everyone. I get occasional e-mails from people, often people who are into raw foods, explaining that drugs aren't necessary or desirable for spiritual purposes - that the body can do this on its own. And that's fine for them, but I don't work like this.
Whether such a statement is a high truth or a belief system judgment isn't the issue for me. If Higher Self gives one the impulse to use Cacao - as a tool - be that for spirituality or to deal with addictive tendencies - that individual guidance takes precedence. I follow, having no right way to tell anyone. Of course, at some point, one needs to discriminate between the voice of Higher Self, the voice of a belief system, and the voice of addiction…