Hello Cacao Lovers!
I have been asked to share my Ceremonial Cacao recipe for some time, and having held a ceremony for the New Moon just last night, I feel inspired to share it while it is fresh in my mind and still active in my body.
First, and foremost I would like to give thanks to the wisdom keepers who have preserved the sacred medicine that is Cacao.
Many people are not aware of this, but for decades until not so long ago, Shamans who served cacao were burnt for keeping their ancient practices. The only reason we still have access to this medicine is thanks to their courage.
I’d also like to say that this recipe is an adaptation of the different methods I have been initiated to, mixed with my own experience preparing cacao. I would recommend that you use this recipe as a guideline, but highly encourage you to connect with this sacred medicinal plant and experiment to create your own recipe.
Before we go into the recipe, I’d like to share that drinking Cacao has become an integral part of my personal healing journey; And it has been beautiful to witness Cacao’s healing wonders on others. Make sure to open yourself up to receive whatever IxCacao (the Mayan Goddess of Cacao) has to offer to you at the moment you are connecting with it.
- Ceremonial-grade Cacao
I like to count approximately 20g/person (20-40g is the recommended dose for ceremony). However when I make cacao for myself in the morning for example I use about 10 grams or less.
What makes Cacao ‘ceremonial-grade’ is the quality and process (including all the hands it has been through) before it arrives to you. The cacao must be 100% pure and organic and should come from Fair Trade. I buy cacao from Cacao Blessings which was founded by a Panamanian sister who works with indigenous communities in Bocas del Toro, Panama and ensures that they are paid a fair wage. However I encourage you to do a little research to find an ethical organisation that sources from a closer geographical location if possible to limit the impact on our beloved Pachamama.
Spices are known for their health benefits and I Love my Cacao spicy so I use some of these and all of them sometimes:
– Cayenne pepper or aji chombo (any chilli works) – Cacao was traditionally drank with chilli so I do recommend trying it with but it is best to add it gradually and taste it as you go because once it’s in you can’t take it out hehe!
I prefer using ‘whole’ spices but powdered spices also work.
I have not put quantities next to the spices because I don’t measure them so use your intuition and make mental notes so you know what to add more or less of for the next time you make it.
- Sweetener (some may frown at seeing this word in a Cacao recipe)
Traditionally, Cacao was prepared without sweetener, and that is how I often drink it myself and how I served it in the first ceremonies I led. I wanted to do it the ancestral way or not at all. However, I started to notice that some mugs would be left half full, meaning that the bitterness of the cacao was getting in the way of some people experiencing the magic and the benefits of this medicinal wonder. I asked myself if my need to do it ‘the right way’ was not a little ego led and if it wouldn’t be better to offer people the choice to sweeten their cacao. I still encourage everyone to try it without sweetener but I also keep a little bowl with honey or agave on the side to meet the needs of the different pallets in the ceremony.
I count 1 or 2 cups per person depending on how many grams of cacao I am making. For a shorter ceremony closer to the evening I stick to 1 cup and 20g per person (cacao is a stimulant and can affect sleep); for a longer morning ceremony you can offer 30-40g per person and then 2 cups of water per person.
- Secret ingredient
This ingredient cannot be found in the soil nor in a store and not even online. This ingredient is your intention, in other words: the energy you put into the ‘mix’ – your energetic contribution. Before you start preparing the cacao connect with ‘Why?’ you are doing it. Remember sharing and receiving medicine must be done from the Heart. And whether you are making it for yourself or to share with others remember to ask for permission and give thanks to the 4 Elements and the 4 Directions (Earth/North – Air/East – Fire/South – Water/West ) Mother Earth and Father Sky and Great Spirit, who make it possible for Cacao to exist, grow and find itself in your hands.
Traditionally, women would sing to the cacao while preparing it. You can sing or hum anything that comes from your heart and if you need a little inspiration I have put together a playlist with medicinal songs.
- First, create the space you will be working in.
I like smudging* myself, the space, the cacao and any tools I will be using to prepare the cacao. (Smudging = energetically cleansing with a smudge stick made with local plants or even incense – best to avoid palo santo as it is causing deforestation). I like having a mini altar in the space with just a few items to represent each element – can be as simple as a flower a crystal a candle and a feather.
- Put some water to boil, measuring the water with the amount of cups you want to serve (add an extra 1/2 cup or so to account for evaporation).
- Peel, cut and crush the ginger and crush the other spices in a mortar or shopping board and add them to the water.
- Grate the cacao and put it aside.
- Once the water is boiling leave it to simmer so the spices release their fragrance in the water. I have noticed that the longer I can leave the spices to simmer the more fragrant the cacao is so it’s worth starting your preparations at least an hour before you want to serve the cacao. Preparing the cacao the day before is ideal in my opinion.
- Using another pot, place the grated cacao in and start adding the fragrant water, little by little. Stirring continuously to make sure the cacao is dissolving and that it doesn’t burn.
- If you used fresh spices you may want to collect any big chunks with a spoon to make it smooth. Before serving you’ll want to whip it with a whip or a fork (I rather not use a blender to keep it hand made) this step is very important as the legend says that the goddess Ixcacao is revealed when rainbow coloured bubbles appear in the cacao.
Et Voila! You have a delicious ancestral medicinal elixir.
Remember to use all your senses to consume the cacao.
Thank you for reading and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about how to prepare Cacao for yourself or for a ceremony.