21 Day Cacao Challenge – The Importance of Ceremonial Cacao (Day 13)


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Why ceremonial grade Cacao…?

As mentioned in my previous blog, the industrial revolution would change how cacao would be processed and eventually go mainstream.

It was in 1828, that the Dutch Chemist and chocolate maker, Coenraad Van Houten, discovered a way to treat Cacao beans with alkaline salts to remove the bitter taste and make Cacao easier to dissolve in water, thus creating the ‘Dutch Process’.  Later, Coenraad’s father then developed an inexpensive way to separate cocoa butter from the cacao liquor, producing a cake that could then be pulverised into fine cocoa powder. 

Today, Cocoa powder is processed at high heat, destroying much of the nutritional value of the cacao bean.   It is then milled into a powder and often alkalized during processing (Dutch-process) to reduce acidity, resulting in a less bitter and more palatable taste.

The way cocoa powder is manufactured, means it has lost most of its medicinal properties, by the time it reaches you in the form of a bar of chocolate or a cup of hot chocolate.  Over time this powerful superfruit and master plant teacher has been confined to the confectionary section of the supermarket having been commercialised and commoditised.

Ceremonial-Grade Cacao…

Ceremonial-grade cacao is made by fermenting and lightly toasting organic cacao beans.  The fermentation process is necessary for cultivating the flavour profile and activating certain natural compounds.  The beans are then cracked and peeled, (usually by hand), then stone ground by traditional methods to create a paste which is then set into a block.  Nothing is added, nothing is removed. The bean’s fat remains intact, helping to balance its stimulating properties and facilitate absorption over a longer period of time.

From tree to cup, ceremonial cacao is cultivated with intention, it is energetically pure and in alignment with the spirit of Cacao.

The hidden ingredient in your chocolate…

It is sad to say that the more cacao has become commoditised, exploitation has increased and the hidden ingredient in your chocolate is child slavery.

Big chocolate manufacturers signed up to a pledge to stop the extreme levels of child slave labour that was being seen in the chocolate industry.   In reality, they have broken their pledge and Mars, Nestlé and Hershey now face a child slavery lawsuit in the US.

Conscious Chocolate…

There has been a growing trend over the years for more ethical sourcing of cacao beans and creating sustainable relationships with suppliers. 

I was having a look for conscious artisan chocolatiers and came across Conscious Chocolate and I loved that their business model ensures the welfare and health of their workforce.  The founder has strong values concerning the environment and health benefits of less processed diet.  Check them out… I know that's where I will be purchasing my decandent delights from!

Cacao is an essential aspect of my life and has played a large role in facilitating deep change over the last two years.  Her heart opening and grounding medicine is what we need to reconnect with ourselves and find balance in these challenging times!

#incacaowetrust

Cacao is a space holder for what you’re meant to bring into the world – Erin Eber

Enjoy life… eat ethically sourced chocolate!

Daily Intention:

To be creative.

What am I Grateful for today?

I am grateful today for my editing skills, not only in Photoshop, but my newfound video editing and podcast editing skills!

One thing today that made me feel ‘I Love my life’:

The sunshine!  It was glorious to sit outside and soak up this life-giving source of energy,

How did I follow my intuition today (with what results?)

I decided to take a break from the slog of sitting at my laptop and head outside to lie in the sun.

What Physical Changes are taking place?

I have noticed my memory is much sharper and I feel more energised.

Daily check in questions:

What difference did this Challenge Make to my day?

I love the immediate sense of stillness and connection I feel when I start to prepare my cacao and then mindfully drinking my cacao with gratitude for the journey she has had to be here in her re-discovered form.

How is this challenge helping me achieve my goals?

I have stepped away from doing.  Whilst I still have things that need to be done, I believe she is teaching me not be distracted and to focus on the things that add value.

How is this challenge impacting my relationships with nature, myself and other relationships?

Whilst I still have moments of stress or stress being triggered by others, I am now able to shake it off quickly and refocus.

Do sign up for The Owl and The Wolf Newsletter, to keep posted on when we will be hosting our next online Cacao Ceremony or check out our website here.

Wise and Untamed

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21 Day Cacao Challenge – The History of Cacao (Day 12)


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Chocolate has a 4000-year history and has come a long way to reach you… intrigued?

Cacao is legendary.  It has a rich history in Mesoamerican native cultures and was seen as a gift from the gods.   Cacao was honoured as a sacred and powerful food and medicine for thousands of years.  It was used in ceremonies, rituals and offerings.  It was also used as a sacred drink to connect with the divine.

But where did it all start…?

The Olmec were one of the earliest civilisations (c1200-400BCE) to turn cacao into chocolate and consume this fermented bitter drink as part of ritual practice or as a medicine.

Later the Mayans praised Cacao as the drink of the gods.  Mayan ‘xocolatl’ (bitter water) was highly revered.  ‘Xocolatl’ was made from roasted and ground Cacao beans, then they added water and chillies.

During the 15th century the Aztecs used dried Cacao beans as a currency.  They also believed that cacao was a gift from the god Quetzalcoatl and drank Cacao as an aphrodisiac and even when preparing for war.  During this time, Cacao was only drunk by high-ranking officials, priests and great warriors.

In 1492, Columbus was one of the first Europeans to learn of Cacao and sent beans back to Spain, however, no-one paid much attention to the beans as they were thought to be only a currency… little did they know, they could also eat it!

It was later in 1519, when the Spanish explorer / Pirate, Hernán Cortés, was introduced to cacao, whilst visiting the formidable Aztec Emperor Moctezuma.  Moctezuma had such an insatiable love for Cacao he drank a gold pitcher of it daily, for energy and vitality.  It was during this meeting that Cortez discovered that Cacao was considered a potent stimulant and in some cases an aphrodisiac.

Chocolate reaches Spain…

It is said that it was the explorer Hernán Cortés who brought chocolate to his homeland, Spain, in 1528.

Cacao was still served as drink; however, they started preparing their Spanish Cocao with cane sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to make it more drinkable.  This chocolate elixir was heavily taxed, so only the wealthy can afford it.

Monks were appointed as the processors of the cacao beans, in order to keep chocolate a secret.  They were successful for almost a century.  The Monks even used cacao as part of their religious practices.

Chocolate-mania develops in Italy…

The more widespread appreciation of this chocolatey drink is credited to an Italian traveller named Antonio Carletti, who in 1606 fell in love with the divine elixir.  He then took it back to Italy, where Chocolate-mania develops, and it is from Italy that chocolate spreads to Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Europe is seduced by Chocolate…

The Spanish had managed to keep this divine elixir secret for almost a century before the treat reached neighbouring France, and then the rest of Europe.

When King Louis XIII of France married Anne of Austria, daughter of Spanish King Phillip III, in 1615, she brought decadent samples of chocolate to the royal courts of France to celebrate their union.

London’s hot chocolate craze began, in 1657, with the opening of one the first chocolate house.  Chocolate was still considered an exclusive beverage… following on from the Aztec Elitism of the 15th century.

In the meantime, Chocolate incites controversy…

By 1624, Cacao had become so popular that the Catholic Church had adopted it as beverage for fasting clergy, however, they did a 180, proclaiming cacao as an inflamer of passions and declaring it sinful to drink Cacao. 

After years of debate the Church finally agreed that if Cacao was consumed medicinally, it could be used as a substitute during fasting.

Cacao heads to America ….

Cacao arrived in the USA from Spain in 1641.  It is believed that one of the first American chocolate houses opened in 1682, in Boston.

By 1773, Cacao beans had become one of Americas major trade imports and chocolate was enjoyed by people of all classes.

During the Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783), soldiers were sometimes given chocolate as payment instead of money.  (Later in WWII, chocolate was provided as military rations)

The Chocolate Revolution…

Chocolate remained hugely popular among European aristocracy and was consumed for its health benefits, as well as its decadence.  However, chocolate was still produced by hand, which was a slow and laborious process.

The industrial revolution would change all that… with the innovative invention of the chocolate press.

In 1828, the Dutch Chemist and chocolate maker, Coenraad Van Houten, discovered a way to treat Cacao beans with alkaline salts to remove the bitter taste and making Cacao easier to dissolve in water, thus creating the ‘Dutch Process’.  Later, Coenraad’s father then developed an inexpensive way to separate cocoa butter from the cacao liquor, producing a cake that could then be pulverised into fine cocoa powder. 

This invention making it possible for cacao powder to be mixed with liquids and poured into moulds, where it would solidify into an edible bar of chocolate.


And just like that… the modern era of chocolate (as we know it today) was born.

Others went onto build on the success of Van Houtens invention, after his patent expired in 1838.

Chocolate goes Mainstream…

By the 19th century, European chocolatiers were finding ways to mass produce chocolate.  It is said that English Chocolatier J.S. Fry & Sons produced the first chocolate bar in 1847.  It was later that century when Daniel Peter introduced to the world, its first taste of milk chocolate, thanks to Henry Nestle’s condensed milk.  Rodolphe Lindt then invented the conch machine, turning cacao liquor into a silky-smooth velvety texture that has become synonymous with Lindt today.

And this is the story of how milk chocolate was brought to the masses and how Swiss Chocolate became famous.

It did not take long for cacao to become one of the most desired commodities in the world, with the real medicinal and nutritional value having been lost.

In Britain, we eat an estimated 660,900 tonnes of chocolate a year, which is an average of 11kg per person per year…. Equating to about 3 bars a week!


The revival of Cacao as Medicine…

After this powerful medicine has been hidden in plain sight as a confectionery, for over a hundred and fifty years, we are coming full circle as we start see the resurgence of Cacao in its original capacity of a Master Plant Medicine and a nourishing food source.

As we start to explore new ways of feeling happier and harmonious in our day to day lives, Cacao, in her form as a Master Plant Teacher, teaches us opens our hearts, calms our stress and anxiety.  When we drink Cacao as part of ceremony with others, creates a sense of oneness. She leaves us feeling loved up and awakens our consciousness.

I think it is truly beautiful that after all these years, we are beginning to seek the wisdom of Cacao and hold council for the wisdom of this powerful plant medicine, not only individually but as part of community gatherings.

What’s not to love… about feeling loved up?

#incacaowetrust

Today’s Ritual was to consume our Cacao a feel gratitude in our hearts for the Cacao spirit and the journey it she has had to get to us in this moment.  We are drinking the food of gods, a powerful plant medicine that has been revered and celebrated for thousands of years!

Daily Intention:

To let go of my frustrations and see the positives in my day.

What am I Grateful for today?

I am grateful for the spontaneous sacred time I created for myself to reconnect with my inner stillness today.

One thing today that made me  feel ‘I Love my life’:

I love that I am alive!

How did I follow my intuition today (with what results?)

Honouring my need for sacred space, gave me the much needed time to slow down and let go.

What Physical Changes are taking place?

I have noticed that I have more stamina on long walks and interestingly, I am less breathless when I have been walking at pace.

Daily check in questions:

What difference did this Challenge Make to my day?

Today the challenge grounded me and centred me, which is exactly what I needed.

How is this challenge helping me achieve my goals?

By creating this space to reconnect with myself, I was able to create some stillness that re-energised me and allowed me to let go of any frustrations I was feeling earlier in the day.

How is this challenge impacting my relationships with nature, myself and other relationships?

Over the course of this challenge my relationship with myself has deepened and I can feel myself slowing down and not always feeling the need to be doing!

Do sign up for The Owl and The Wolf Newsletter, to keep posted on when we will be hosting our next online Cacao Ceremony or check out our website here.

Wise and Untamed

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