Cacao + Reishi Ceremony
Preparing the Cacao
As humans, we all long for ritual space that helps us make meaning, mark occasions and life passages, and celebrate the gift of life. Learning to craft ceremony for oneself and others can be deeply fulfilling. The good news is that we can follow our intuition and creativity to create sacred space built around the unique architectures of our imaginations—it's different for everyone, and that's a big part of the beauty.
A basic framework may look something like this:
Set intentions: Feel into why you are calling this experience into being. Spend a little time with what arises. If you'll be holding space with other people, get clear on what the expectations are—times for silence and times for sharing and conversation, for instance.
Prepare yourself and the space: tidy up, gather any desired tools or sacred objects, arrange blankets or pillows for your comfort, turn off your phone, burn your favorite incense or dried plants, pour yourself some water, prepare your cacao
Open the space: Call upon something greater than yourself to be present with you during this time. Some people call upon their ancestors, the divine, the elementals, the mystery, or their own widest self. Energetically open the space by lighting a candle, ringing a bell, etc.
Drink the cacao: Offer your thanks to all of the forces and beings, seen and unseen, named and unnamed, who came together to allow for this moment. Drink the cacao.
Be with it: practice cultivating a quiet mind while the effects of the cacao begin to blossom. Perhaps you will notice when the spirit of the cacao becomes "present" for you. Lean into these sensations like greeting a friend.
Follow your intuition: Do you feel like singing? Dancing? Talking aloud to yourself? Continuing to deepen into silence? Journaling? Giving or receiving massage? There is no right or wrong. Let your heart guide you as the cacao dances with your uniqueness in ways that only you can follow. Take care that during the heart of your ceremony you do not become distracted and let the container of your experience spring leaks—this could look like checking your phone out of habit, for instance. Honor the space you have created.
Close your ceremony: Acknowledge everything that came together to help you during your experience and give thanks for any insights that came. Honor the spirit of the cacao in whatever way feels most alive for you. Energetically close the space that you opened by blowing out candles, offering plant smoke, ringing a bell, etc.
Working with Cacao + Reishi
It can be easy to slip into the dominant culture's insistence that the world is created for humanity and that we alone are gifted with consciousness. Instead, let us consider that the earth and all her beings exist in harmony, each for the other, and that life force and consciousness animates all. If we so choose, this helps us move away from the idea that we "take this plant" for "this reason." Instead, we work with plants, entering into relationship with them, inviting in their spirits and as well as their phytochemistry.
Opening our Hearts
Cacao and reishi are both medicines of the heart. While cacao enlivens, courts, and dilates the heart-space, reishi grounds and coalesces these energies. This means something different for everyone, and during cacao ceremony we can experience a broad range of emotions and states of being. From bliss and warmth to grief and release, these teachers meet us where we are.
The spirit of Cacao often moves us to express ourselves. When you are sitting with cacao, consider having your creative tools on hand. Singing, playing instruments, writing, painting, drawing, divination, and dancing are all beautiful practices to incorporate into your experience.
We recommend between 1 and 2 squares (approximately 1-2 ounces) of cacao as a ceremonial dose. Shave off the desired amount of cacao and stir or blend into 6 ounces of hot water. For ceremony, many people choose to drink the cacao unsweetened, but you may add a bit of honey or maple syrup if desired.
For those who are new to ceremonial cacao, start with a 1-ounce dosage. The effects of the cacao bloom within about 30 minutes, so wait that long until deciding to have more.
The alkaloids in cacao lower blood pressure and increase heart rate. If you feel lightheaded or nauseous, drink plenty of water and rest while these symptoms subside.
Cacao should not be consumed by individuals on first-generation MAOI antidepressants. Those who are pregnant, taking SSRI antidepressants, or have serious heart conditions should consult a healthcare provider before consuming cacao at ceremonial doses.
Remember to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout your experience.