When we first heard “Cacao Ceremony” we weren’t quite sure what to expect having never heard of such a thing, but after living in a place like Bali where terms like “ecstatic dance”, “water keifer”, and “Chakra massages” are the norm, you begin to get use to it. While I have yet to try the Chakra massages here, the ecstatic dance and water keifers have proven to be solid experiences, so we thought “what the cacao” let’s give it a try.
We arrived at the ceremony venue at dusk, a beautiful Balinese style villa located just outside central Ubud situated in the middle of rice terraces. Before you could enter, you were fanned with smoke from burning sage and Paolo Santo to cleanse and purify your body and spirit. We stepped out side to the pool area where others had begun to gather, all sitting comfortably in lotus pose (cross cross apple sauce), and for a second I thought there was about to be some sort of spontaneous group meditation session (which has been known to happen here).
But as people filed in, we realized the main event of the evening was inside, in a dimly lit room with what looked like a band set up at the front, except instead of a drum set or any of your typical instruments, there was a large collection of crystal bowls. We waited in line for a cup of the revered cacao, and while it smelled amazing, think spicy dark hot chocolate, we were told not to drink in yet. Once we found an empty yoga mat on the floor and took a seat, the sound healing portion of the evening commenced.
The band was like nothing we’d ever heard before, mixing in crystal singing bowls with ukulele and various other instruments we had never seen, but we ended up really enjoying it. We waiting until the leader of the music group deemed it an appropriate time to drink the cacao, and all together after giving thanks to the cacao, we savored the rich, slightly spicy and delicious drink.
From a nutrition standpoint I knew some of the health benefits that accompany cacao, but I had never thought about cacao as a mind altering or spiritual substance. As it turns out, medicine men, shamans and healers of the world have been using cacao in spiritual practices for thousands of years, originating in the ancient Incan and Mayan cultures. Cacao was thought to initiate healing through opening the heart and allowing you to cultivate self love and a greater sense of connectedness. Ceremonial grade cacao is highly concentrated and if you drink enough, it can produce a high/euphoric state from the feel good amino acids theorbromine and phenethylamine. Euphoric and relaxed but alert state with no hangover in the morning? I can get behind it, especially when there’s a host of other health benefits of cacao including:
Health Benefits of Cacao:
- Magnesium rich (relaxing mineral)
- Rich in Sulfer (the ultimate beauty mineral, especially good for skin)
- High in antioxidants
- Lowers LDL cholesterol
- Mild stimulant
- Natural stress reliever
- Mild pain reliever
- Contains essential fatty acids
- Improves micro circulation
- Improves insulin sensitivity
Now that we are all getting healthily high, the mood of the ceremony shifts and a DJ known as “DJ Temple Step” takes the stage and the dancing begins. This ceremony ended how most house parties do; with people stripping down to jump in the pool after dancing for hours and then heading to get late night munchies, but without the drugs, alcohol and feeling crappy the next day.
This is definitely something worth experiencing if you ever find yourself somewhere that may have these types of ceremonies. San Francisco is already jumping on the band wagon with their “Chocolate Discos” and I am all for it. If ceremonies aren’t your thing, Cacao is still a substance that you should work into your health and wellness routine. Whether it’s adding Cacao powder to your coffee/smoothies or grabbing a bar of dark chocolate (70% or up) when looking for a health dessert option! When searching for good brand, look for organic, raw and fair trade options.