There is something quite magical about chocolate. The word invokes powerful imagery in our cultural consciousness. In most cases, there is a strong connection between chocolate and the world of emotion and passion: think the sensuality of chocolates for a valentine, the comforting effect of chocolate after a heartbreak, or Juliette Binoche’s chocolate shop sparking la joie de vivre in a repressed French village in the film “Chocolat”. Digging into its long history and culture, it is little wonder why this connection between chocolate and emotion is so ingrained.
The origin of all chocolate, from deluxe fair-trade organic single-origin 90% dark to a Hershey’s bar, is cacao or cocoa – two words for the same thing – the seed of the South American plant Theobroma cacao. Consumed for thousands of years by native Meso-american and Incan peoples, the plant was highly valued for its culinary as well as ceremonial, spiritual, and medicinal qualities to the point of being used at times as a form of currency.
Even its scientific name cements the connection between cacao and divine. Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’. This transcendent quality might explain why our culture associates chocolate so strongly with emotion. In a time that often prioritizes the critical, scientific, rational, and efficient over all else, just getting in touch with one’s emotions can seem like a revelation. Cacao has a heart-opening quality, helping one experience bliss and let go of past suffering.
Studies have backed-up many of these purported effects of consuming cacao. One of the main phytochemical constituents of cacao, theobromine, has been shown to positively affect our mood and state of alertness and may have heart-protecting and anti-inflammatory qualities. What’s more, cacao contains many other health-promoting properties. In addition to being rich in vitamins and minerals, cacao is an antioxidant powerhouse.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the spiritual side of cacao with cacao ceremonies being offered to a new batch seekers in search of the divine qualities of the ‘food of the gods’. The Metta Space is delighted to offer opportunities to participate in a sacred cacao ceremony so that anyone can experience the numerous benefits of this magical plant.