5 Things to Know Before You Share Cacao
Here at Cacao Source, our mission is to honor and share cacao. Cacao medicine has travelled vastly through space and time to be with humanity. The story of cacao is complex, often misunderstood, and even more often vastly overlooked. Cacao was once depicted as the Tree of Life that raised civilizations, and through terribly dark times of colonization, cacao was one of the few cultural relics that survived. Cacao grew in infamy through the diaspora of the dessert-food many of us know and love as chocolate, and today is both grown around the entire equator and consumed around the world.
So though many people may consider this plant medicine to be no more than a joyful casual encounter, we’re here to offer a different perspective. “Cacao ceremonies” are breaking out all over the world, most of them for good intention, of course. This raises the question: Who can share cacao? Can anyone host a cacao ceremony?
Here are 5 things you should know before you go on to share cacao.
1. Learn from Cacao Medicine
Plant medicines are here as teachers and guides. It is an absolute phenomenon that though we may lose scriptures and teachings, the plants have been stewarded and their messages to us can be passed down despite thousands of years of changes.
Some people are under the illusion that drinking cacao is equivalent in experience to drinking hot chocolate. Pleasurable in itself, but nobody comes to hot chocolate probing for the deeper questions in life.
Cacao is a powerful medicine teacher that has many beautiful gifts to offer us when we have the patience to sit with it and listen. For that reason, we highly recommend that anyone who shares cacao considers themselves to be a student of cacao. We are never masters of medicine, we are always learning.
Take time to drop in with the medicine. Turn your phone off, grab a journal to take notes, sit with the medicine and just be. Set an intention before drinking cacao to listen for a message that’s just for you. Ask questions. Notice how you feel, what comes up, what thoughts pass through your mind. Allow cacao to guide your consciousness.
Spend at least an hour in this space where you can truly tune in and listen to the Cacao Spirit.
2. Know the History of Cacao
Before you share cacao, take time to inform yourself about it’s history. Who are the cultures and people who have stewarded and protected this medicine? This is important, as these are clues for what Cacao is here to offer humanity. Many of the cultures who have cultivated intimate relationships with cacao and uphold these traditions with the highest degree of strictness.
You should also know the dark side of foreigners becoming involved in this medicine. In 1521, Spanish conquistadors seized Tenochtitlán, the capital of a thriving Aztec culture. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed by colonial brutality, and many more of disease. When Tenochtitlán fell— including a rich, diverse, and beautiful culture— Cacao continued to pass through the hands of colonists as a form of currency. Even today, many lands and people are exploited in the cultivation of Cacao. We invite you to acknowledge these wounds that collectively are still being healed before embarking on the path of sharing medicine.
If you’re called to learn more about the history of cacao, we invite you into our online learning portal or in person offerings.
3. Cultural Appreciation, Not Appropriation
Cacao has passed through rituals and traditions from the Olmecs, Mayans, Aztecs, and Mexica to name a few cultures who have held cacao in the blood and their hearts with reverence.
Culture has been passed down as a means to create order and balance in the world – between ourselves and nature, elders, and each other. Culture is important, as within culture there are codes for appropriate conduct. Much of Western culture has lost these deeper roots in pursuit of materialism and modernization. It is important to note that many of the cultures who have preserved their heritage is not something we can understand at face value– there are profound ideas and concepts interwoven in the simplest of rituals.
Please, do not imitate the things you see the keepers of this medicine do. It’s best to ask the deeper meaning of certain rituals, and ask for permission to do something in your sacred spaces before assuming that it’s alright.
Traditional clothing and sacred objects are not something at your disposal for costumes and props. Again, learn their meaning and ask permission to use them.
Ask questions about who have been the stewards of this medicine and where it has come from. Appreciate these facets of the medicine, and don’t try to teach something you don’t understand.
4. Know the Source
Where does the medicine come from? Does it honor the land? Does it honor the hands that brought it to you? Was it medicine for every person who was involved in bringing it to your communion with it?
If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know”, then we highly recommend you make a deeper investigation on your sourcing. As a Cacao sourcing company, we’ve put a lot of intention into creating systems of fair share for the land, farmers, and women’s collectives we work with. You can also learn more about our offerings to experience our sourcing at the bottom of this article.
5. Reciprocity: Give Back to the Medicine
What’s here today is only thanks to those who cultivated yesterday, and what’s there tomorrow will only be thanks to those who cultivate it today. If we are just taking, we are not honoring the medicine. Honoring means giving back.
This “giving back” can take many forms. It could mean offering some with loving intention to the Earth before you open sacred space. In traditional lineages, the first year of sharing the medicine is done without receiving funds. The first “fruits” of your labor are given back to Spirit in loving reverence. If you do collect funds for your offerings, send a portion back to the guardians of the medicine. This could be the Elders, the land, the farmers, or the women’s collectives.
Here at Cacao, we’re excited to announce the founding of our NGO: Give Back to the Source. This allows the broader community of cacao lovers to make a direct contribution to the lands of cacao and the people who steward this medicine. Our first fundraiser will be directed to a women’s gathering center in La Union that will bring about the cultural revival of women to learn and share their gifts with the community.
Thank you so much for taking time to understand more deeply the dimensions we attune to when we share ancient medicines. It’s important that we look at the big picture when handling sensitive topics, and doing so with love and respect within our hearts. Though there is a broad spectrum of ideas, we choose to walk the Middle Path, proceeding with mindfulness and grace, to connect this medicine to the world.
We have many offerings to help bring about deeper transformation with your work with Cacao.
Join our next training program in Guatemala to connect directly with the lands, plants, and people from whom we collaborate with to make this medicine possible. https://sourcecacao.lowthian.org/offerings/cacao-source-training/
If you can’t make it out abroad, we are hosting an 8 week journey where we connect to the many dimensional aspects of cacao through knowledge, wisdom, and various space holders. https://sourcecacao.mykajabi.com/live-cacao-source-online-course
To make a donation to the lands of cacao, follow this link for a crowd-funding campaign. Our first project is to build a learning center for Eco-artisans in La Union, Guatemala.