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The time I went to a Cacao Ceremony

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The time I went to a Cacao Ceremony

The first I heard about Cacao was during the lockdown, I can't remember which one as they have all blended into one at this stage.

My friend and colleague @yogawithorlaith was beaming from Instagram, sipping on what looked like a delicious hot chocolate that had a few dried leaves sprinkled on. She posted that she had taken part in several Ceremonies online. She said that these were usually facilitated by a teacher who would lead a guided meditation that would begin with the drinking of the magical plant drink Cacao. Apparently this offered an opportunity to connect with not only yourself but also with the plant spirit of Cacao and a deeper connection with mother Earth. Sounded good enough to me, so I instantly logged onto @soulfullyaisling, paid my €25 and ordered up 200g of ceremonial grade cacao all the way from Guatemala.

Once it arrived I was surprised at how strong it smelled. It was a rock hard disk of darkness with a slightly bitter aroma. I had a little lick- it was vile!

I got to work preparing my ceremony, full of expectations. I followed the instructions on how to cut the cacao and weigh it in preparation for the next step. 15g with 200ml of water for complete beginners- that's me! Aisling advises that if you are new to drinking it you need to start with a low dose and then work your way up to a maximum of 40g.

I had seen lots of people online using plant milks, honey and spices so I decided to use oat milk and a bit of honey for my maiden voyage. I set up my space and sat with the warm cup in my hands. Closing my eyes, I focused on my breath, after a few moments of centering I drank my first sip….. It was not what I was expecting! Bitter, thick, gritty and strong. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn't this. OK so I probably made it wrong. So I tried again. No. Still not great.

I tried a total of 4 times and then I gave up. The poor cacao which had been hand picked and the beans lovingly roasted and hand peeled by the indigenous Mayan women was banished to the back of my cupboard and I forgot all about Cacao…..

That was until over a year later @nicoleokellyyoga popped up on my newsfeed to announce that she was hosting a real life “in person” Cacao Ceremony only an hour from my house. She promised connection, earthing and magic as well as sea swimming, so you guessed it, I booked! Nicole holds a very special place in my heart as she was a student of mine a few years ago and I felt a deep connection with her from the moment we met. Her work as an Menstrual Cycle Awareness educator and women's circle facilitator astounds me for a woman of her young age and I felt drawn to learn from her and share this experience. I reached out to my best friend and spiritual seeker sister Kate and we set off on our journey to Wicklow to discover the magic of Cacao together.

We reach the beach at Maghermore quite early, of course we get a little lost on the way. We park up in a lush field with the cows and make our way down a long tree lined avenue to the most beautiful beach on the East Coast of Ireland. White sand and blue skies greet us despite the bitter cold chill in the air. I have packed a swimsuit and de fuzzed my legs the day before in preparation for my first sea swim of the year. Kate has packed a full wetsuit with long arms and legs. As we are the first there we kick off our shoes, roll up our leggings and run straight into the icy waves. Dear God it is freezing!!! Right I'm thinking it'll be grand in a while and I’ll get in once everyone arrives.

The other participants soon join us on the beach. Nicole introduces the group to each other and then leads us in a short centering meditation where she speaks of the elements- The water of the sea, the cool air around us, the earth under our feet and the fire that we would meet very soon. At this stage it is getting colder and the sky has turned grey so the ladies strip off and run stark naked straight into the sea! My teeth are chattering at this stage and Kate and I have a quick discussion and decide that it was probably best if we keep our wrinkly nips rolled up inside or jackets for now, I didn't want to risk hypothermia after all.

Watching the wild women in the water makes me wish I had loved my body more in the past. All of the days and nights I covered up, ashamed and embarrassed of my body, thinking it was a sin to show my flesh. I felt bad for this fleshy vessel that has brought me through my life, born into this world without clothes but told to cover up and not to be showing off. I watched those gorgeous beings with wide eyes- envying their freedom, their confidence, their sheer love for themselves and nature and I wish I was more like them.( I also wish we had better weather!!)

As soon as everyone has dried off we make our way to a tiny cabin that Nicole has rented a few miles from the beach. It is hand built and made from all natural materials. A large stove stands in the middle of the back wall and flames dance inside as the warmth of the cabin greets us. Nicole has lovingly laid out an altar on the floor for our ceremony and I add my offering, a red piece of thread. Symbolising my bloodline, all of the women and wombs that came before me. I visualise this red thread weaved from the past to this very moment carrying the hurt and pain but also the joys and love.

We sit together in a circle on cushions, wrapped in blankets looking down at the beautiful array of cards, stones, crystals and other offerings. Nicole opens the ceremony with a meditation. Her words were like balm on my skin, her voice so pure and calming. She tells us to let go of any expectations and I immediately do, she advises us that the Cacao is a plant medicine and not just a hot beverage, it is to be drunk with an open mind and a willingness to let your heart open and the magic to unfold.

Holding the warm mug in my hands I look deep into the rich brown liquid. I visualise where it came from, the soil the trees have grown in, the people who picked the pods and the women who have handled each bean with prayers and respect along the process to bring it here into my cup. I can feel the love as Nicole blended it with spices and the intentions that were weaved into the very molecules of this magical drink.

I sip it. It is warm, and slightly bitter. Not offensive like the last few times. Something is different.

It is me.

After we have finished sipping our Cacao Nicole plays music and beats a tribal drum, some of the participants sing along, it is magical. We close the ceremony with a sharing circle and offer our gratitude to one another and to the Cacao. I can feel Kate beside me, we don't need words to communicate to each other what we feel.

When the ceremony is finished we sit together and chat, we eat home made banana bread and drink herbal tea. A circle of wild women, sharing, laughing and loving. Open hearts and open minds.

Nicole will be hosting a Cacao Ceremony at YoGrá on Friday the 8th July at 6pm. Contact Nicole at to reserve your space

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