Why am I teaching about a sacred plant medicine used by indigenous cultures in an online format?

I recently launched Open Your Heart With Cacao which is a foundational course to introduce people to working with Cacao for healing and heart opening. One of the first questions I received when I shared my course with a shamanic practitioner was around the online format.

Before I dive into that, let me explain a bit about cacao and in person ceremonies:

Cacao has been used for a documented 3,500 years, and intuition tells me much longer than that, by Mesoamerican cultures. I first experienced Cacao in an in-person group ceremony. There are different variations on present-day Cacao ceremonies, typically there is a group of people sitting in a circle around a ceremonial altar, with facilitator(s) guiding the group through intention setting, gratitude practices, meditations, etc. There is often live music, sound healing, dance, sometimes couples exercises, it’s a very versatile medicine and can be used in many ways. A common experience I’ve seen in group Cacao ceremonies is emotional release - be it tears, extreme joy, dancing, shaking, what have you. These are all ways of releasing old, stuck energy. And the special thing about in-person ceremonies is that there is a sacred space created by the facilitator and all attendees for this healing work to occur. It’s a safe place. And the energy of the group allows more deep work to be done for those who are interested.

Can this experience be achieved in an online format?

Before I answer that question, I think we need to zoom out a little bit and look at how Cacao is being experienced today. The absolutely wonderful thing about Cacao, and one of the reasons I’m so passionate about it is that it is legal in the U.S., and isn’t very controversial (until the recent snorting situation). Compared to other plant medicines such as psilocybin Mushrooms, and Ayahuasca, the general public is more accepting of Cacao; almost everyone loves chocolate.

Cacao is gaining in popularity around the world. It’s being used for dance parties, taking the place of uppers at clubs, and even being covered by Business Insider.

And in my personal experience, more people are reaching out about Cacao on a regular basis. This is why I initially started offering 1:1 in-person Cacao coaching packages, to try to support people working with Cacao in a more holistic way than I could do via an Instagram Direct Message.

So, because people are already familiar with Cacao, it’s accessible, and there's a low barrier to entry to working with it, people are starting to work with it on their own.

And this is great! And, it’s super important to me that the history and sacredness of this plant is maintained, and that people have access to this information as they are embarking on their own journeys. As an example of what concerns me, the aforementioned Business Insider article describes Cacao as a hallucinogen. This is not true, yet may now be believed by the thousands of people that read that article.

So back to the online format.

Cacao is so versatile that one can (and many do, myself included) bounce in between non-ceremonial and ceremonial uses in the same day. You could start your day with a personal Cacao ceremony and then later sprinkle some organic fair trade Cacao nibs on your morning oatmeal. You wouldn’t do that with most other plant medicines I know of, especially not the master plants (e.g. Ayahausca) which are hallucinogenic.

It only makes sense to meet the growing demand for Cacao and ritual in ways that support the versatility of this medicine. In addition to online courses I also lead monthly in-person women’s cacao ceremonies, and am considering creating an in-person version of the course and virtual coaching as well. I want to be able to support everyone on their journey regardless of their location.

And, I'm not alone. Heartblood Cacao, a popular seller of ceremonial Guatemalan Cacao has a 3 month online course to teach how to lead Cacao ceremonies. The sisters at Live A Lot Chocolate offer monthly virtual Cacao ceremonies for women.

While it's true that an online format will be a different experience of working with the medicine than is traditional, it's my wish that everyone who feels called to work with Cacao is empowered with the right tools, information and practices. My course will help you to work with this medicine with integrity and in a sustainable way, so that we can continue to share the heart healing that this world so direly needs. And, now that I have 1 completed course under my belt with 18 participants, I can confidently answer that yes, cacao can change lives, and help one learn to heal in an online format.

photo cred: Kealaopono Richardson