CACAO CEREMONIES

Upcoming 2019/2020 ceremonies in Devon:
If you'd like to be the first to hear about my cacao ceremonies, please ask to be added to my mailing list. I will be adding more dates & venues throughout the year.
2019 dates:

Winter Nurturing Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
Sat 30th Nov 2-5.30pm
Lotus Loft, Exeter
£30 earlybird/£35 full price

(You might also be interested in my yoga workshop HAWAIIAN HEARTWARMING YOGA CACAO NIDRA on Sun 8th Dec - more info here)


2020 dates:

Wolf Moon Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
Sat 11th Jan 2 - 5.30pm
Yoga Torquay
£30 earlybird/£35 full price


 New Year Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
Sat 18th Jan 2 - 5.30pm
Lotus Loft, Exeter
£30 earlybird/£35 full price

 

Imbolc Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
Sat 1st February 1 - 4.30pm 
Angel Gallery, Totnes
£30 earlybird/£35 full price

Spring Equinox Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
Sat 21st March 2 - 5.30pm
Lotus Loft, Exeter
£30 earlybird/£35 full price


 Eostara Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
Sat 4th April 2 - 5.30pm
Yoga Torquay
£30 earlybird/£35 full price

 

Beltane Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
Sat 2nd May 1 - 4.30pm (date TBC)
Angel Gallery, Totnes
£30 earlybird/£35 full price

Summer Solstice Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
June (exact date TBC) 1 - 4.30pm
Angel Gallery, Totnes
£30 earlybird/£35 full price

Summer Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
Sat 11th July 2 - 5.30pm
Lotus Loft, Exeter
£30 earlybird / £35 full price


Lammas Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
August (exact date TBC)
Angel Gallery, Totnes
£30 earlybird/£35 full price

 

Autumn Equinox Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
Sat 19th Sep 2 - 5.30pm
Lotus Loft, Exeter
£30 earlybird/£35 full price

Samhain/Full Moon Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
S
at 31st Oct 2 - 5.30pm (2020)
Totnes or Torquay - TBC!
£30 earlybird / £35 full price

Winter Nurturing Women's Sacred Cacao Ceremony
Sat 21st Nov 2 - 5.30pm (2020)
Lotus Loft, Exeter
£30 earlybird/£35 full price

​​​*** For most people, ceremonial cacao is totally safe, but like any medicine it might not be appropriate for everyone. Before booking, please scroll down to read about contraindications for drinking a full dose of cacao - and contact me if you have any questions. ***

Please note: All bookings are non-refundable & non-transferable to other dates, but you may gift your place to a friend if you are unable to attend. By booking your place you acknowledge & agree to these terms. Thank you for respecting this policy.

 FEEDBACK FROM PREVIOUS PARTICIPANTS... 

"What a powerful and enriching experience! Feel very blessed to have been there...The ceremony was an extremely nurturing and powerful process within a safe, beautiful group of women. You held and supported us as a group with such grace, it was a truly empowering and life-changing experience." - Sarah

" Big thank you for an amazing experience. So rewarding to have a safe place to share honestly without judgement. Good to have time to reflect...It felt very positive and gave clarity to thoughts. Personally I feel I gained a great deal from Saturday's cacao ceremony." - Rachel

WHAT IS A CACAO CEREMONY?
Contemporary cacao ceremonies take many forms - my way of working with cacao is rooted in my training as a plant medicine practitioner, a deep personal connection I have cultivated with the cacao plant spirit, ongoing personal explorations and studies, and over seven years of experience holding safe, sacred space as a yoga teacher. I work with profound respect for this ancient plant medicine, offering you a chance to dive particularly deep within during a guided journey in a format inspired by traditional Amazonian plant medicine ceremonies, adapted for cacao.

 

Everyone comes to the ceremony with a heartfelt personal intention, and after some simple rituals to open the ceremony, we begin with a sharing circle where you state your purpose for coming to the ceremony. In this way, we begin the process of opening up and drawing on intuition, before consuming a powerful dose of pure ceremonial-grade Peruvian cacao. You will then lie down & be guided on a deeply meditative inner journey - you may experience this journey as relaxing, healing, spiritual...(do not expect a big psychedelic trip - this is not about hallucinations & thrillseeking.) The field is open but the space will always be held lovingly as I guide you through the various stages of the journey.

 It can be a powerful, blissful, spiritual, moving experience. We drink cacao as a gentle yet potent plant medicine which can facilite deeper heart-opening & emotional release, help us to cultivate greater intuition, and tap into our potential to experience greater joy and let go of old stale emotions.

WHY MIGHT YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN A CACAO CEREMONY?

Maybe there's a particular issue you wish to look at in your life, something you can't let go of, an experience from the past or a pattern you keep playing out in your life...
Perhaps you are seeking guidance or clarity & perspective, & would like to find a way to access greater insight on your situation.

Perhaps you wish you could be more intuitive, connecting with your intuition & tapping into the "higher" levels of awareness which our everyday overactive, analytical, rational minds often prevent us from accessing.

You may be seeking a way to open up your heart - perhaps you sense that constrictive emotions such as pain, sadness, fear, anger, grief & anxiety are stopping you from being as open, joyful, honest, loving, expressive & brave as you would like to be.

Or...maybe you are in a good place and are simply curious about plant medicines - maybe you've heard about cacao specifically, or else you might have heard of other medicines, but are wary about the possible effects of taking a strong psychoactive which might require a long, tough journey to integrate afterwards.

Maybe it's all of the above!

Cacao is both safe and legal. It is not only recognised as a nutritional powerhouse (a true superfood); since at least ancient Mesoamerican times, cacao's heart-stimulating properties have been known to humans, and ceremonial-grade cacao possesses an energy, a vibrancy, an essence not present in more processed  cacao-derivatives (including "raw" cacao powder & paste, which is not as raw as you might think, though still very nutritious as a food rather than a plant medicine). With cacao & all other plant medicines, when consumed intentionally, in a sacred space, we can connect with the spiritual essence of the plant.

 

Everything about the ceremonial space I create is intended to cultivate an experience of being safely held and guided, so that you can relax on all levels, feeling able to share & be open to the experience, open to what arises when you relax and allow the rational mind to switch off so that the more intuitive, expansive states can be accessed. In this state, we call on the energy of the cacao to assist us on our journey of heart-opening, intuitive insights and emotional release.

 

For some, this opens into a profoundly spiritual experience, though I would always advise participants not to place particular expectations of what their personal journeying experience will be (eg expecting to have visions), particularly if this is your first experience with ceremonial cacao. Some participants form an instant & powerful connection with the spirit of the plant, for others it may take more time & journeying. Being open to the experience as it unfolds is a good approach to life in general, and for a cacao ceremony in particular!

THE CONTEMPORARY REBIRTH OF CEREMONIAL CACAO

The tradition of drinking cacao (the pure, raw, least processed form of chocolate - from the ground/pressed seeds of the cacao tree) as a plant medicine with heart-stimulating power dates back several thousand years, to the Americas - the most recent research shows people in Ecuador consumed it 5000 years ago! (Read more about cacao's history here.)

 

Contemporary cacao ceremonies can take many forms. I received my cacao initiation in 2017 and apprenticeship training  in early 2018. I was trained in a ceremonial style based on Amazonian plant medicine ceremonies,  and over time I continue to develop & evolve my own style rooted in this powerful approach, allowing participants to dive really deep, into a guided, meditative, heart-opening shamanic journey. (Cacao is subtle yet can also be very  powerful in her own way, but the journey and integration of cacao medicine  will be much gentler than more psychoactive plant medicines.)  
 

In recent years there's been a revival of the ancient Mesoamerican (& perhaps also South American) tradition of drinking cacao as part of a sacred ceremony. Modern western cacao ceremonies are perhaps not so much a continuation but a new creation, a fusion inspired by these ancient traditions: probably the main connection is the cacao itself, since what we share in a cacao ceremony is the same drink, a very pure, unprocessed form of cacao, which Mayans & moderns alike recognise as being both a super-nutritious form of food and also a powerful, sacred plant medicine, with the ability to release blockages from the heart and  connect us to more intuitive, "higher" states of consciousness when consumed in an intentional way, in a ceremonial space.

LET GO OF OLD PAINFUL EMOTIONS

Contemporary cacao ceremonies use cacao to facilitate deep heart-opening (you may already have some experience of the joyful release experienced when we open our heart-centres, through certain yoga practices). When the heart centre is unblocked, we can experience greater joyfulness, and often when we've experienced pain, trauma, sadness or fear, these emotions cause subtle blockages which can prevent us from experiencing joy or moving forward in our lives. When we start to release these blockages around the heart centre, we often shed tears: this is how we purge our pain, and also can be how we simply let go and open up in delight - have you ever been so happy you cried, or have you ever been moved to tears by the sublime beauty of a  piece of music or a sunset?

So it's not unusual to shed a few tears during or even after a cacao ceremony. If you feel yourself starting to well up, let them flow - it means your heart is opening up! Welcome these tears as washing away pain, and expressing greater joy. It can be an incredibly liberating, joyful experience to release all the old pain you've been storing in your body in this way, and the particular power & beauty of a cacao ceremony is that you get to do this is a safe, structured, guided way, in a safe, supportive, nurturing environment.

EXPERIENCE THE BLISSFUL ENERGY OF THE FOOD OF THE GODS AND THE BLISS CHEMICAL
Cacao is special in spiritual terms, partly because of its powerful heart-opening properties: it is a stimulant containing
theobromine (named after the scientific name of the plant, Theobroma cacao*, as it's only found only in cacao) and caffeine, two plant alkaloids which increase the heart rate (caffeine actually stimulates the entire nervous system, theobromine just stimulates the heart specifically) - this combination is unique to cacao.  and also a great list of other compounds including: anandamide, an endorphin known as "the bliss chemical" ("ananda" is Sanskrit for "bliss"), which is produced after exercise; phenylethylamine (PEA), the chemical we produce when we fall in love; and tryptophan, a powerful mood-enhancing amino acid, essential for the production of serotonin, the "happy hormone".

* In 1753 the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus gave the plant its scientific name,"Theobroma cacao" - theobroma meaning "Food of the Gods", and"cacao" being the name the Mesoamericans gave to the plant & its seeds/nuts (which we now call beans!).

EXPERIENCE SPIRITUAL CONNECTION THROUGH A GENTLE PLANT MEDICINE

​​On a purely chemical level, cacao's heart-stimulating, mood-lifting are apparent; on a more subtle, spiritual level, this plant - like all plant medicines - has an energy, a spirit, a character of its own which we can feel when we ingest it. Cacao is much gentler than the more notorious Ayahuasca/Yage plant medicine - the spirit of cacao medicine is very loving & even maternal. It is said that cacao might open a door but she won't push you in, unlike some of the other plants! Cacao has a very feminine energy, ideal for sharing in women's sacred circles. Drinking cacao can therefore also help you connect to deeper feminine spiritual energy.

 

TAP INTO YOUR INTUITION & ACCESS YOUR HIGHER MIND
There's a wide range of contemporary cacao ceremonies out there. Mine are essentially a deep guided meditative journey into a trancelike state (not unlike the state you might experience in a yoga nidra).

After the opening of the ceremony and the sharing circle, you'll drink the cacao and then lie down for the guided journeying. We begin with a grounding process and a yoga nidra to relax you and prepare you for the more subtle inner journeying stage in which you can connect to the energy of the plant you have consumed, and from here begin to access more intuitive states of mind, to help you explore personal questions and gain clarity and insights. Some people experience this as simply thoughts or words drifting into their awareness seemingly from nowhere; some experience this as a kind of inner voice or dialogue, or even a conversation with a spirit or the cacao goddess. (The Mayans knew her and called her "Ixcacao". ) You may feel a warm, powerful, loving, even motherly energy flooding your body.

 

Drinking cacao (chocolate in its most pure, traditional form) is completely safe, non-psychoactive (and legal), and yet can, in a ceremonial, intentional setting, help you to experience some surprisingly deep, powerful states of mind. The ceremonial setting & intentions are really key to unlocking the full potential of the cacao.

You will be lying down for the journeying stage, so that you can fully relax and shift into a trancelike state, but; but this state of subtly heightened inner-awareness is one which you may come back from instantly at any time if you wish - you are still fully present consciously as well. It is the same type of journeying which may be achieved through eg listening to shamanic drumming, but the use of sacred cacao brings an extra dimension of heart-opening and the connection to the spirit of the plant. 

 

COME WITH AN OPEN MIND & NO EXPECTATIONS
That said, it is best not to come to a ceremony with expectations about what you think you will experience. Every journey is different and I find that it's best to keep an open mind, then you can hear more clearly whatever it is you need to hear, to learn from this particular ceremony. If you go in expecting to have a super-intense experience it's less likely to unfold that way! Come with some clear intentions for what you would like to let go of, what you would like some insight or clarity around, or simply with the intention to explore something new. Come with respect for the setting and the plant medicine, and then get out of your own way so that Ixcacao can do her work!

After the journey, I will gently guide you back, and then we return to the sharing circle, in which each participant shares what they have experienced and any insights or wisdom they have received. This post-journey sharing is an important part of the ceremony and allows each participant to begin the process of integrating what they have experienced on their journey. This integration process may continue well beyond the ceremony, and I am very happy to discuss things with you in person or via email afterwards. It is important for every participant to feel grounded and centred afterwards, so I'd also recommend eating a good meal after the ceremony!

WHY MY CEREMONIES ARE USUALLY  FOR WOMEN ONLY

I offer these sacred ceremonies for groups of women, so there is a supportive empathic feminine energy to these sharing circles. I'm sometimes asked why my ceremonies are for women only. There is no protocol against men consuming sacred cacao, it's simply my personal calling to share with women primarily. I appreciate that many men are in touch with their feminine side too!

Cacao has a feminine energy which can be healing to connect with if you are a woman needing to heal your own relationship to your feminine aspect in some way, or to other females in your life. (Mother & daughter & childhood issues often come up!) Participants in these ceremonies often seek healing from trauma and abuse in ways which make an all-female environment feel much safer too.

There seems to be a greater healing of the female spirit occurring in our culture now, and a great rediscovery of feminine spiritual power, after a long history of repression and abuse and diminishment of our experiences and our voices. It is beautiful & moving to be able to connect with feminine power and spirit, in a group of open-hearted women sharing their stories and journeys, being heard and held, without judgement.
 

IS IT SAFE FOR ME? WHO SHOULDN'T DRINK CACAO?
For most people, cacao is very safe! However, there are some specific contraindications so please check below. Cacao is a very loving and gentle plant medicine, and a cacao ceremony is not a big psychedelic/ayahuasca-style purging experience: you will not lose your mind! Some people feel a bit ungrounded afterwards, and I recommend starting with a smaller dose if this is your first cacao experience. Different sized bodies, different metabolic rates, different temperaments mean it's going to be different for each person, but I can advise you more on this individually.
It is important to respect the more subtle but still very profound power of the plant medicine - she is not for everyone, but she is for most people! This is one reason I think it's so good to use cacao in a sacred ceremonial setting: when we come to the plant medicine with a specific intention, and with respect for & awareness of the power of the plant to affect us, we creating the best circumstances in which to get we what we need from the experience in the most beneficial way.

Cacao is very complementary to a yogic way of life; it is said that she will open up a doorway but  won't push you through.

Cacao is, chemically, a mild stimulant, containing a unique combination of caffeine and theobromine, amongst many other components...

Health factors to be particularly aware of are:
* if you are on antidepressants, SSRIs or other medication, have a heart condition or are pregnant:   Be aware that the theobromine in cacao is a vasodilator: it increases the heart rate and lowers blood pressure.  Cacao in the concentrated doses we consume in ceremony therefore increases blood flow to the brain & heart by at least 40% so you may be better off with a smaller dose. I usually offer a half-dose to people on SSRIs. Please see below for more info...and contact me if in doubt.

* if you are taking 5-htp (5-Hydroxytryptophan) it's advisable to have a smaller dose of cacao.

* if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, again be aware that theobromine is a stimulant & increases heart rate & lowers blood pressure. Some people advise avoiding it completely during pregnancy, others suggest a smaller dose (I can discuss this with you). Cacao contains a tenth of the caffeine found in coffee so depending on your stance on coffee during pregnancy you may be ok with the smaller dose of cacao.
* If you are taking St John's Wort, please refrain from taking it for a few days before & after the ceremony.

* If you are on MAOI antidepressants, cacao (& all forms of chocolate) is contraindicated because it contains tyramine.

* if you have low blood pressure, be aware that although cacao is a stimulant, it lowers blood pressure. Depending on your condition, a smaller dose might be appropriate - in some cases it may be contraindicated eg if you have had epileptic fits triggered by low blood pressure (bear in mind that the whole ceremonial experience of lying down & being guided on a nidra &  shamanic journey is also likely to lower your blood pressure even without the cacao!). Please contact me if you want to ask more.
* some people are allergic or sensitive to theobromine - it can trigger headaches or migraines in some people. (You will probably already know if this is you.) I can give you a smaller dose of course.
* if you are epileptic, a cacao ceremony may not be appropriate for you as high consumption of cacao stimulates the brain and there is also scientific research to suggest  a possible connection between caffeine & cacao consumption and increased seizures.  Scientific research / evidence is still inconclusive, but I would err on the side of caution if you have a history of epilepsy. (It is also important for the sake of other participants  that we create a safe environment where there is little risk of disruption.)
* if you are sensitive to caffeine, it can affect your sleep - though cacao contains far less than coffee - about a tenth of the amount. People often find they actually sleep really well and dream vividly after a cacao ceremony.

The cacao we share in sacred ceremony is more pure & potent than the cacao powder you might use to make raw chocolate, a superfood tonic or smoothies (although ceremonial grade cacao can also be used for all these things). It is far less processed: ceremonial grade cacao licor is not heat-treated & retains the cacao butter as well as the cacao powder (cacao solids). I once tried using the much cheaper cacao paste for a personal  ceremony on my own: while nutritious, this paste had no spiritual energy to it; it is no substitute for ceremonial grade cacao.


We will be sharing criollo cacao grown by the Ashaninka tribe of the Peruvian Amazon. This cacao is the highest quality: raw, organic, ceremonial grade, and is very ethically sourced: sustainably grown, fairly-traded and shipped to the UK via a small supplier. Criollo is the rarest, finest variety of cacao. In the ceremony, you may choose to add a little agave syrup or cinnamon to sweeten your brew, or some cayenne pepper if you want to speed up absorption into the bloodstream like the Mayans and Aztecs did.

READ MORE ABOUT CACAO HERE

© 2019 by Tania Rose Fox