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What is Cacao? and why is it so popular now?

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

My name is Nicole O Kelly and I am a cacao circle facilitator and yoga teacher from Offaly. I

have had many people asking questions about Cacao and I am so delighted Christine has

offered me a space to share with you. I hope this answers some questions you may have.

Cacao is a sacred plant medicine well known for its energetic link to the heart, building

connection and many medicinal benefits. Ceremonial cacao is grown on farms in Central

and South America and Mexico, with a lot of the ceremonial cacao available to us here in

Ireland being sourced directly from Guatemala and Peru. Ceremonial cacao is grown on one

farm, unlike commercial cacao that can be bought in the health shop or what is used to

make chocolate. These are grown in many other places across the equator that the cacao

tree is not native to and the product generally comes from a mix of farms and places. Cacao

has been used by the Mayans for many centuries and is continued to be drank today in its

native countries as a support to fire ceremonies or as part of a celebration.

Cacao drinking has taken a rise in popularity in recent years with more people taking an

interest in personal and spiritual enquiry and development. Whether it be in a group cacao

ceremony/circle or a personal ritual or practice. Many people ask me what a cacao

ceremony or circle is, and this depends on the facilitator holding the space. Some of these

spaces may include a sharing circle, meditation or shamanic journey, movement, journaling

… however different facilitators share cacao with many different practices. Intention setting is

usually always involved. I feel some important things to look out for is that your facilitator

has a knowledge of where the cacao comes from as well as their own personal connection

with Mama Cacao. And that the space is held in gratitude for the earth and cacao and with


Cacao carries the energy of the feminine hence being referred to as Mama Cacao. In Mayan

tradition she is represented by Ix’cacao a goddess of abundance and fertility. Also there is

deep connection with cacao and Mother Earth. Cacao is known as a heart opener as it

brings you into the energy of the heart - expansion, love and connection. Drinking cacao

brings our attention into both the light and the dark, maybe bringing our awareness to areas

that need more attention or that we need to delve into deeper.

Medicinally cacao has so many benefits. It contains Theobromine known for its energy and

mood boost similar to caffeine but lasting much longer and without the caffeine come down.

The anandamide - bliss molecule, magnesium and iron in cacao are great supports for the

menstrual cycle. Personally I find cacao a great support in my luteal phase as my body is

preparing to bleed.

As with all plant medicines and spiritual practices, cacao is not for everyone. Always check

in with yourself and your body and if you hear the call of cacao go from there. If you have

any queries ask your known facilitator no question is silly. There are also contraindications to

be aware of with cacao. People with heart conditions, on antidepressants, other medications

or are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to consult their doctors and let your facilitator

know. If attending a ceremony a lower dose if suitable or a herbal tea is often offered as an

alternative to the cacao so you still receive the energy of the circle experience.

I hope this introduction to Cacao has been of benefit to you. I am always happy to answer

any questions so please reach out.

I also have a Cacao Circle coming up in YoGrá Studio on Sunday the 14th August if you feel

the call to join.

Find me at @nicoleokellyyoga on Instagram or email at for

booking, any questions or if you wish to purchase Cacao.

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