Updated: Aug 15, 2022
Ceremonial Cacao has been a backbone of my daily diet for over 6 years. This is author is also the owner of Island Sharks. As such, I am able to bring you my own 'brewable', ceremonial cacao bar I always feature in my posts about #cacaoceremonies.
Here is a story of how ceremonial cacao was further established as my daily ritual.
Ending first, with me alone, on a road, in the dark at 3000 feet near Quito, Ecuador. I couldn't see down. There was a sheer cliff along side the road I walked. I didn't sense danger. Here are the views during day light. I felt called to have gone to the #cacaoceremony despite the danger.
I had come from about 500 feet below. Although Ecuador is coastal, where I was there was no ocean access. I was near the cloud city. the capital, but all I could see was dark. Everyone else was still below. Here are more day light views of where I was at night. Oh and there was no cell service.
I was waiting for a cab and there was no one else around on this dusty, black expanse. No cabbie. The potential fall and the absence of the moon were my only company. My phone had died after calling the cab. It was late and I lamented to be waiting in such a vulnerable place. I was on some road on some old volcano and everyone I just shared a beautiful cacao ceremony were all about 500 feet away below at the venue! Also, the parking lot was there. It was useless to me as I didn't drive. Unrevealed was that I didn't know anyone there either so I couldnt ask for a ride. After the event, and a shockingly pitch black wait in the woods, the cab home eventually came...I was taken back to my yoga school, Durga's Tiger School, where I would eventually earn 300 hours of kaula tantra yoga teacher training.
Earlier, I had arrived by cab and jaunted down a long curvy driveway towards the event space. The structure was gorgeous and built by a couple giving off very safe vibes, the owners of the space. I said, "hola and aloha", to all the guests and settled into a spot I found. Looking around I saw and admiring the handmade wood work, I notice her - the host of the cacao ceremony. The community was kind and open and she was the one who brought us all together. She embodied all the vibes. We meditated in silence to begin with and let our minds settle. Then, we went around and shared a bit about ourselves. I was excited to learn about everyone's very different background. Afterwards, we all did some movement then settled back down. Fully attentive now, the shaman began to speak of wisdom keepers, tribal ceremonies and ancient cultures. While speaking she lifted up her laddle and began serving the room temperature cacao beverage. We passed them around and all took time to set an intention before drinking. When the 1,200 or so flavors hit your palette, the eyes almost automatically closed. In silence we slowly consumed our delicious beverage until everyone was done. Out of nowhere and with my eyes closed, I heard a voice that rang out in song. Chanting in spanish, a little guitar and some drums were all brought to the moment. They old songs in traditional tongue carried us for what seemed like hours. Some danced to the hand drums, while I just sat in appreciation toward everything. More prayers were said and everyone expressed their voices, desires and passions to the beat. It was moving. I would do it again in a heart beat. Look for the priestess/shaman on instagram @cacaoamor Thats where I found out about it.
You see I had no fear. No fear of animals (coyotes?) or strangers. It was the wilderness of backwoods and rural Quito and I felt (almost) at home. During the ceremony I was nervous. Arriving I was scared. Cacao made me fearless and speaking spanish, a second language, began to feel like my first
Meeting new people, in a new land, in a new language is hard enough without social anxiety and anti-social tendencies. I had nothing but the calling to be there and the purpose of being there to to find confidence. The host, also @cacaoamortantra on Instagram, did an exceptional job of keeping me comfortable while she guided us. She spoke English, but I asked to leave to the experience in Spanish. This 'ceremonia de cacao' would be my first but not last in Ecuador. As a host of cacao ceremonies in Hawai'i, this writer has to admit that he began hosting cacao ceremonies of his own after going through events similar to this. I even held ceremony at the Portugal Spirit Festival, Tokyo and several other countries.
I let go of all expectations as a peer or colleague. I joined her cacao ceremony as a student or 'estudiante'. No other substances were consumed expect water and bliss was attained. That implies we drank only the cacao and it affected us.
Pineal glands secreted the substances usually reserved for church or weddings and people felt their sacred nature return. We all shared after imbibing the cacao, how we felt. I translated well, y ahora yo hablo espanol mejor (and now I speak Spanish better). But, more importantly I learned cacao ceremonies better. I learned not to be afraid of new places, better. I learned to be pro-social (not anti-social) and share, with or without cacao.
The most important thing I learned, or realized, was that all cacao ceremonies were originally in Spanish! Maybe Peruvian or 'Quetchwa' was spoken. Definitely Mayan and Olmec languages were used too. But thats it. Not English. Even chocolate is, or comes from a Nahuatl Indian word.
It felt so authentic to have a cacao ceremony in espaniol and in Ecuador! I have to say that although the cacao flavor was delicious, I have an affinity for Hawaiian cacao. I learned how much has changed in the world of cacao ceremonies and it seems, well, its all changed!
While I was in Ecuador it was discovered that the oldest cacao in the world actually comes from Ecuador. Previously it was thought that the Mayan's were the first to cultivate cacao. I was shocked and stunned that this revelation was discovered just miles from where I stayed in Ilalo, Ecuador at the time I was there! We now, in Hawai'i, make ceremonial cacao for an actual Mayan haman. They can be found on Instagram @4manosy5volcanes_cacao where they teach and instruct students from around the world on Traditional and Ancient Mayan Cacao Rituals. The author and his team are so honored and humbled to work for such a noble, authentic and gifted shaman. If you want a discount on her 'bean to disc' cacao, made by us, use code: Hawai'i. If you want to do some self-care with some of our brewable bars of 100% Pure Hawaiian Cacao just go shop here! After traveling the world entering authentic cacao ceremonies and holding my own cacao ceremonies, I still continue my daily ritual. There are many companies making ceremonial cacao these days and more are to come. But to be some of the first people ever in human history to consume Hawai'i ceremonial cacao, I am proud. To bring a renaissance to the Hawaii chocolate industry requires omitting sugar and adding prayers. I am honored and humbled to be a part of this movement. I am grateful and continue to pray that everyone enjoys ceremonial cacao all over the world. I'll be back to post more stories and adventures in cacao and cacao making (and chocolate making) here at least monthly! Sign up to get the updates and discounts! Until then, read these with a cup of ceremonial cacao -- Ethan, the owner of Island Sharks.
I don't typically write about prayers, but when I do, its from drinking ceremonial cacao. I'm drinking some while I write and edit this. It's so delicious. Of course from your own cacao ceremonies and chocolate rituals, moods will be lifted. If you would like to share your cacao ceremony experience or rituals I would love to listen. Feel free to share your journeys in the comments.