Death by chocolate - often considered a legit (and pleasurable) way to pass on. We’re kidding of course. But chocolate certainly plays a huge role in our lives no matter what community you come from. We give chocolate to our lovers and people we care about. We eat it for comfort. We share it at times of happiness and as a treat. But why is chocolate so tied up with good feelings (or trying to feel good)?
The Mesoamericans of the past, considered cacao sacred and drank the bitter liquid daily and during rituals. It is believed to have heart opening properties - which is probably why we associate chocolate with matters of the heart. While the current incarnation of commercial chocolates, might not have the full benefits of cacao, there is still enough in each chocolate bar, for us to experience a fraction of its potential.
Over the past couple of years, cacao ceremonies have become popular. More people are realising the benefits of the cacao bean, and participating in ceremonies to drink it raw - just as the Mesoamerican civilizations did. Today these ceremonies are being held in New York, London, Berlin, Australia and of course in Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and more.
As people experience feelings of open heartedness, and deep connections, often associated with these ceremonies, more and more are using cacao in creative ways for their own journeys. In Berlin, a monthly cacao ceremony called Lucid combines a Sunday afternoon dance party along with the sacred ritual. Belgian chocolate-maker Dominique Persoone created a device that enabled you to snort a shot of cocoa powder.
But why are we turning to Cacao?
Getting To The ‘Happy’
For one, because ceremonial-grade cacao has euphoria inducing ingredients, the emotional (and physical) impact of each ceremony can be quite profound. Participants have reported heightened feelings of love and empathy, awareness of their deepest sense of self which can feel as if their heart is opening like a flower. All this can lead to deep understanding and emotional release that might not have been achievable otherwise. But this isn’t some ecstasy-like substance from 90s raves. Cacao is considered a gentle plant, that opens the way but doesn’t force you into anything. The whole effect is much more subtle.
The Opening Heart
Realistically though, the active ingredient Theobromine, a stimulant found in Cacao, is more likely responsible for these feelings. Combine that with Phenethylamine - known to help relieve stress and depression and amino acids that facilitate the release of dopamine - the pleasure hormone - and you’ve got yourself a cocktail of feel good ingredients. But just because we know what causes these feelings, doesn’t mean it diminishes the insights and awareness gained while drinking cacao.
Can I Recreate This At Home?
We wouldn’t recommend drinking ceremony-grade cacao at home, unsupervised. These ceremonies are usually conducted with the help of experienced practitioners. However, you can still feel the stimulating effects of a cup of cocoa. Make sure you get cocoa that isn’t processed and is lightly roasted, in order to preserve as much goodness in each bean as possible. Our Boca Cocoa is a good place to start. Spice things up with a dollop of honey and a pinch of chilli (just like they did back in the day) or check out some of our other recipes, or create your own!