On a warm Summer afternoon I headed to my first Cacao Ceremony held at the blissful Nadi Wellness yoga studio. Anna Chaparro and Emily Ruygrok – two beautiful Goddesses in their own rights, welcomed each participant as we arrived. I joined the growing circle in the studio, finding mostly woman and one guy chilling out on pillows. Cacao is a potent plant medicine – Anna describes it as a “nature based conscious connection” as she begun the ceremony by explaining how she came to understand more about this plant.

Indigenous cultures have used Cacao for thousands of years and for many reasons, among them for sustenance and to access higher realms of consciousness as well as to open the heart center. This has been a term understood by many who have been on a journey back to themselves and it was this description of the ceremony that attracted me the most. Connection being a theme that Spiritual Seekers Guide to Queenstown & Surrounds is exploring over this year, heart connection through the Cacao Ceremony is a powerful way to dive deep into this layer of experiencing. For me, I felt called to explore this connection to my heart space and to my innermost self, after having focused much of my attention on an outward connection with others.

Emily explained how the science now backs up the theory the ancients held about Cacao opening the heart with the plant literally being a vascular dilator, increasing blood flow to the heart region. When taking it, people can feel their heart stirring but it is of a more gentle nature then what one may experience from coffee. The feeling of being ‘blissed out’ has been said about taking Cacao and it is now known that it induces this state through the releasing of neurotransmitters known as PEA – “a neurotransmitter of bliss” says Emily. The indigenous name for the Cacao tree translates to ‘Food of the Gods,’ being recognized as so sacred as to give mortals a bridge to the state that the Gods knew. Sounds pretty great right?

Anna opened up to us about more personal reasons for why this plant medicine is known to be such a potent part of living consciously and connecting to ourselves.

Everyone struggles with aspects of themselves which may hinder or block our joy for living. One such example is the state of Anger, while useful in some ways this can be a destructive trait to carry when it begins to affect everyday life. This I could relate to. We were encouraged to set an intention for the ceremony. Anna spoke about how this practice has been one of the most transformative that she has come across when confronting the traits that can hold one back in life. Taking the plant medicine with a conscious intent to unravel these blocks and to change them into the trait you wish to embrace more of, is the alchemy of this powerful plant. Often the trait we wish to see more of is the antidote to our not so helpful traits. For me, I wanted to let go of Fear. A big one which encompasses much, I found this deeply related to the trait I wished to move towards, which is the state of equanimity.

Writing this down, speaking about it and working with the consciousness of the Cacao was extremely powerful stuff. Doing this with a group was also a part of the transformation. Taking the Cacao and holding it close to our hearts we drank of its deep, smooth magic. Not long after having my first few sipsI felt met with a loving force. My body felt relaxed and felt warm, my anxiety – a constant – died off. I closed my eyes and felt as though I was being hugged by a wise elder. This brings in the close relationship Cacao fosters between us, the participants of the ceremony and our ancestors, from our heart connection to theirs.

This part of the ceremony caught me by surprise, but it made sense as I realized the indigenous connection with the plant meant that the world of the spirit, or of ones who have passed over, would be an integral part of such a ceremony. And they were. We were asked to close our eyes and seek them, I felt the power of my linage at my back. Honoring our ancestors and our loved ones who have passed away felt reverent and it was incredibly special to have a safe space in which to do this, as we do not have this in our everyday modern way of living – where we are disconnected from our ancestors. Having lost my Father in 2019, this part of the ceremony was the most powerful and overcoming. I had a huge amount of emotionan come up, lodging as a painful rock in my throat area. I let the tears fall as I acknowledged and felt into my Fathers presence and his love for me.

Cacao had a healing and releasing effect for me. It bought clarity for that I wish to nurture moving forward. It was connecting to be with others who shared this experience and were brave enough to be vulnerable with strangers. Because of these aspects of the experience I felt deeply connected to a part of myself I don’t often visit, my very heart center where my pain may be kept, as well as my joy and inspiration for life.

Many thanks to Emily and Anna who facilitated a healing journey, along with deep heartfelt thanks to the spirit of the Cacao plant – I felt as though we were held with a loving, supportive and conscious guidance as provided by these women and the plant herself. Bless!

There was mention of this event running more regularly, perhaps every couple of months, a powerful offering in our community so keep an eye out for event listing!

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