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What happens in a Cacao Ceremony?

Cacao Ceremonies offer a deeper connection to our self, our humanity and our greater interconnectedness. In this article, we will discuss the structure of these sessions in detail.

Reverence Events Co-Founders, Catherine and Willow Francis, have been conducting Cacao Ceremonies in Perth, Western Australia since 2010. Drawing from their backgrounds in medical training and a strong commitment to wisdom traditions and holistic health, they skillfully blend science and spirituality into all the events they organise.

A Long and Sacred History

Cacao ceremonies have been part of the human experience in a number of parts of the world for millennia. These ceremonies, rooted in the ancient traditions of Meso-America and South America, have, what we can call “ceremonial cacao” at their core. Read our blog post on ceremonial cacao here.

In modern times, there are many ways to offer what can be called a cacao ceremony, but all sessions should contain the following elements. Let’s go into each of them now.

Preparing Sacred Space

Creating a sacred space for a Cacao Ceremony

In every cacao ceremony, the journey begins with the facilitator(s) making sure that the ceremony location has a genuine and tangible sense of the sacred imbued into it.

This requires the facilitator to be aware and skilled in preparing the environment with special regard to cleanliness, subtle energetic and aesthetics. These play a vital part in a ceremony.

There also needs to be a posture of reverence and devotion to The Divine (in whatever capacity is authentic).

The deliberateness in which a space is set up is vital in order for participants to feel safe (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) and nurtured. It fosters their capacity to let go of gross and subtle guards/limitations in order to have a genuinely transformative experience.

Ceremonial space is generally set up in a circle lay-out, nourishing us to cultivate a sense of unity, equality and connection.

Preparing the Cacao

Crafting the Cacao elixir in preparation for the cacao ceremony

At the heart of every cacao ceremony lies the cacao itself. Cacao has its incredible array of supportive neuro-chemicals and minerals (read more in our blog on the nutritional benefits of cacao here). These assist us to physically relax into a sense of well-being, connect with creativity and a flow state-type focus. It also supports us to connect with our humanity (qualities such as gratitude, compassion and forgiveness) and what we call our “OK-ness” (“I’m OK, it’s OK).

We work with ceremonial cacao – cacao that has been grown, processed and prepared with integrity in a mindful and ethical way – and create a drink that nourishes us physically and takes the form of a sacrament.

This sacrament is often made with warm water, is sweetened and sometimes infused with spices such as cinnamon, chilli, or vanilla. Preparing the cacao is a mindful and reverent practice.

Setting Intentions

Before consuming the cacao, participants are encouraged to set and articulate an intention for the ceremony. This pivotal step serves to guide their internal experience through the journey and also provides an anchor for their thoughts.

If you aren’t familiar with the term intention, another way to describe this part of the ceremony is “why are you here, and what do you want to transform, experience, heal, or receive insight into during the ceremony?”

This might be in regards to self-love, forgiveness, creative blocks, life direction, or a deeper connection with their true self or spirit.

Opening the Ceremony

Invoking the cacao ceremony

With the space set, the cacao prepared, participants seated and intentions set, a ceremonial guide steps forward to formally open the ceremony.

This opening typically involves spoken words, chants, or guided meditations designed to set a larger group intention as well as connect and invoke more directly the spiritual aspect of cacao.

The invocation is a pivotal moment that sets the tone for the ceremony and deepens a connection to the sacred.

Drinking the Sacrament

Drinking the Cacao

Participants receive their cacao and are encouraged to slowly, mindfully and deliberately drink this. They may be invited to connect with their intention and the more spiritual aspects of cacao.

The physical sensation of this rich chocolatey brew is often warming, grounding and can also feel stimulating for some (an initial increase in heart-rate can occur, especially if chilli is also used in the brew).

Heart-Opening and Healing

Heart opening and healing

One of the most researched effects of cacao both within a ceremonial context and in general consumption is its heart-nourishing quality.

The theobromine compound present in cacao stimulates the heart. Flavonoids (anti-oxidants) clear blood vessels and lower blood pressure, and neuro-chemicals such as anandamide (the bliss endorphin) and dopamine (joy) can result in a sense of emotional openness, a more direct connection with one’s own heart, and a sense of being less emotionally guarded.

During a cacao ceremony, participants frequently experience an enhanced capacity for self-love, forgiveness, and the release of emotional blockages.

It’s not uncommon for tears of healing, unexpressed sadness, and joyful gratitude to be present.

This gentle openness can foster an unspoken sense of connection between participants.

Inner Journey and Insight

As the cacao ceremony progresses, participants are guided to turn their attention inward. The heightened state of awareness facilitated by the cacao can lead to profound insights, visions, and a deeper understanding of oneself. Participants may feel an expanded consciousness that enables them to access layers of wisdom that are not always easily accessible in everyday life.

Music in some form generally plays a role during this part of the ceremony.

Emotional amplification

The Cacao Connection

The cacao connection

For those who have a more spiritual or shamanic world-view, the cacao itself is regarded as a sacred plant teacher, offering lessons and guidance to those who find they experience a connection with it in ceremony.

Some participants describe an experience of communication with the cacao spirit itself, receiving guidance and insights that resonate with their personal journeys. This profound connection can lead to a greater understanding of one’s life path and purpose.

Participants do not need to adopt this world-view or narrative however, to experience the benefits of a ceremony.

The Collective Effect

Having cacao or sitting in meditation on your own at home can be very beneficial. Coming together as a group in a ceremony that is well facilitated does tend to amplify the beneficial outcomes.

As the cacao ceremony continues, there is a shared sense of human connection that can be very therapeutic. Feeling that you are among friends who understand you at a deeper level is often an existential relief!

A metaphorical oasis amid an often superficial, fast-paced and chaotic society.

In some ceremonies, you will also have some practices incorporated into the ceremony that facilitate this genuine heart-felt connection with oneself and others.

Participants can also experience a profound sense of unity and a greater interconnectedness. It’s not uncommon for participants to feel as though they are part of a greater whole, transcending the boundaries of the individual self.

Journeying with the Senses

A collective energy flow in a cacao ceremony

Engaging the senses also remains a fundamental aspect of the cacao ceremony throughout its duration. Participants are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the sensory experience.

The pharmacology of cacao enhances our senses, particularly our sensitivity to touch (increased blood flow to the skin) and our hearing (making our experience of listening to music richer).

The Inner Healer

Cacao is revered for its potential to facilitate emotional healing. During the ceremony, participants may encounter unresolved emotions, or emotional blockages. The gentle, heart-opening quality of cacao can assist in allowing participants to release and find resolution in emotional wounds, providing an opportunity for profound inner transformation.

Revealing Visions


In some cacao ceremonies, participants report experiencing vivid visions or inner journeys. These visionary experiences can be highly personal and symbolic, offering insights into one’s subconscious mind. Visions may provide guidance, clarity, or a deeper connection to one’s inner wisdom. Cacao has been said to de-calcify the pineal gland, which can make it easier to access these visionary states.

Integration and Gratitude

Carrying the wisdom forward

As the ceremony approaches its conclusion, the guide will close the formal part of the ceremony as a mirror to the opening invocation, generally focused around an expression of appreciation and gratitude.

Participants will then often come together once more, this time to share insights and experiences in some capacity. This collective exchange of authentic insight promotes integration, allowing participants to reflect on the lessons learned during their cacao journey and to allow others also to benefit from lessons learned.

Please note though that shared reflection should not be compulsory. Make sure you only share what you feel comfortable to, and only share from the heart. This is a part of the ceremony that needs to be mindfully and skillfully facilitated.

Gratitude for the cacao, the ceremony, and the connections forged becomes a central theme, fostering a sense of closure and completion.

Continued Transformation

The effects of a cacao ceremony extend beyond the ceremony itself. Participants generally report a lasting sense of clarity, increased self-awareness and self-care, and enhanced connections with others.

The practice of connecting with ceremonial cacao both in daily life and in regular ceremonies becomes a valuable tool for continued transformation and self-discovery.

It is important to mention at this stage that we always recommend participants organise to have some quiet time after the ceremony (whether in actuality they need it or not on the day) as individuals can sometimes feel a little sensitive, vulnerable or tired. Some find they sleep well after a cacao ceremony, and some find they are too excited and stay awake until late.

If you decide to embark on a journey with cacao in ceremony, you will find your own way and connection with this special plant medicine.

In Conclusion

Inner journey

A cacao ceremony is a multi-layered and personally sacred experience that transcends the physical act of consuming the cacao. It is a journey of connection—with oneself, with others and with our humanity and spirit.

By engaging in the process, intentions, and practices that unfold during a cacao ceremony, participants embark on a voyage that has the potential to transform themselves and their lives.

Embark on Your Cacao Journey

An invitation to experience a cacao ceremony

A cacao ceremony is a multifaceted journey of connection, self-discovery, and transformation. It invites participants to explore the depths of their inner world, fostering emotional healing, heightened self-awareness, and a sense of unity with others as well as a larger understanding of interconnectedness. Whether you’re drawn to cacao for self-exploration or seeking to deepen your connections with those around you, a cacao ceremony offers a unique, sacred (and delicious) path.

So, if you feel the call to attend, before you book in, make sure you do your research. Use your discernment as well as use your intuition to pick the right ceremony for you. What is your intention, and what ceremony structure will best meet that intention?

As mentioned early in this article, the facilitator plays a vital role in the cacao ceremony. Your capacity to feel safe to be vulnerable, able to let go into the process as it unfolds and trust that you have a loving, reverent and skilled guide is paramount.

If you do find your way to a great cacao ceremony for you, you will most definitely not regret it! Cacao is an incredible plant medicine, giving us so much in so many ways and so perfectly suited to human physiology and pharmacology to help us on our life’s journey.

And….if you are in Perth, WA….we can’t wait to see you at one of our cacao ceremonies soon!

Unlock the magic of cacao ceremonies

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