Chocolate as a Spiritual Partner?

cacao bagging 42 pounds of warm semi-liquid chocolate in a 5 gallon bucket

Photo provided by Keith Wilson, Cacao Tribe image
Keith Wilson's Cacao Tribe bagging chocolate to ship to buyers

Chances are, you love chocolate as much as I do. You’ve also probably heard of the health benefits of cacao, often labeled a “superfood.” But have you ever considered the idea that cacao may enrich your spiritual life?

After visiting the Ecomuseo del Cacao outside of Uxmal, Yucatan this weekend, I wanted to learn more about chocolate as a spiritual and creative facilitator. I contacted two members of the Cacao Tribe: Keith Wilson, also known as the Chocolate Shaman, and Brenda Larsen, who has participated in over 500 cacao ceremonies.  Both are based in beautiful San Marcos la Laguna, Solola, Guatemala, though Keith is currently in Greece on a cacao ceremony world tour.

The team had the opportunity to interview Keith and Brenda to find out more about their spiritual experiences with ceremonial cacao.

Please tell us about yourself. Keith, how did you end up becoming a chocolate shaman, and Brenda, how were you introduced to cacao?
Keith: The Spirit of Cacao (the consciousness behind the form) contacted me while I was living in the Guatemalan highlands and pointed me in the direction of exploring the use of traditionally processed cacao that has the original compounds and energies. After a few months of using this medicine plant and understanding that it was overlooked in the ‘60’s because it isn’t a psychedelic, I began sharing it with others. Everyone thought using chocolate as a spiritual facilitator was a joke.  Now I get several emails a week thanking me for introducing cacao as an amazing facilitator in individual and group work, from artistic creativity and productive workplace focus to shamanic journeying, meditation, yoga, and deep inner-work of all types.

Chocolate Shaman, Keith Wilson

Photo provided by Keith Wilson, Cacao Tribe image
Chocolate Shaman, Keith Wilson

Brenda: I was born in the mid 1950s in the western United States, raised in a very conservative, fundamentalist-like Christian home, living a life filled with strict rules, people pleasing, and seeking approval, while at the same time struggling with hidden self-hatred, steeped in guilt and shame because of my shortcomings. I spent 29 years as a professional software engineer, working for a high-end system software company, earning big bucks, trusting that my life would forever be comfortable. But in 2005, one day as I was driving home from work, I heard what felt like a voice in my head, literally speaking to me. I don’t know if it was an actual voice, but it felt like one.

“You’re going back to school to get a Masters Degree in counseling,” The words undeniably paraded through my head.

“The hell I am,” I responded aloud, as I simultaneously began to sob.

I literally had to pull my car to the side of the freeway several times on my way home, because I could not see the road through my tears. I knew the voice was right – I knew I had to follow it – and I was terrified of what that would mean. It meant giving up all of my financial security, my possessions, and starting all over with a job that at best would begin with intern wages. I had financial obligations and imagined my life crumbling around me.

I fought the feeling for a few days, but within a week, I signed up for a night-school masters program in Mental Health Counseling. Two years later, I volunteered to be laid off from my job; nine months after that I sold my house, and less than a year later, in June 2009 I graduated.

Ten days after graduating, I boarded a flight with a one-way ticket to the island of Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico. A series of dreams and subsequent meditations made it quite clear to me to pack up my belongings, pull up all my roots, and to set off on a journey of self-discovery – writing about it every step of the way. It was then that I began my blog “Brenda’s Bicycles” in which I have documented my entire journey of the last four years.

Following more synchronous events, I ended up in San Marcos La Laguna, Solola, Guatemala,with intentions to check out “Las Piramades Del Ka” – the local meditation center. I thought I might stay a few weeks, but ended up doing the entire Moon course (one month) and then the Sun course (three months).
During my Moon course, I saw a grey-haired old hippy drinking chocolate with three people over in the corner of a local restaurant. I felt deeply curious.

“Who is that guy, and what are they doing over there?” I asked a friend who had mentioned that she knew him.

“He is leading a chocolate ceremony,” my friend had replied. “You should try it sometime. It can be an amazing experience.”

“Yeah right,” I laughed while pondering silently, keeping the judgment to myself. “The last thing I will ever do is pay some old hippie to drink chocolate with me. It is absolute nonsense to think that chocolate could be spiritual in any way.”

Less than two months later, during my Sun course, the rest of my group decided they wanted to do a ceremony together with Keith. Expecting absolutely nothing, I went along for the ride, just to be a part of the group.

Brenda Larsen bagging ceremonial cacao

Photo provided by Brenda Larsen
Brenda Larsen bagging ceremonial cacao

What was your first experience with ceremonial cacao like? How has cacao been a part of your life since then?  
Keith: The Cacao Spirit first took me into a background download of understanding, and then stepped back to allow me to experience her partnership in my usual inner-work.  That partnership has continued, contributing significantly to my personal journey and allowing me to reach many more people with my fun.  After all, chocolate has lots of buzz!  My first interest continues to be the transformative processing that changes inner reality so the feedback called your life can change.

Brenda: Eight of us did the ceremony with Keith. I found myself (and my spiritual ego) feeling quite humbled as I listened to Keith’s introductions about cacao. I quickly sensed that my unfounded judgments were wrong, and I had a beautiful experience with the cacao. I cannot say that I had any out-of-this-world energetic experiences in that first ceremony, but something opened in my heart and touched me deeply, quietly whispering that Keith and cacao were going to play a bigger role in my life.

For me, that first ceremony was more of a trust-building experience. I felt a beautiful heart-opening connection with the cacao spirit, but did not experience anything that at the time I would classify as a mystical experience. I deeply resonated with Keith’s spiritual background and wisdom, and the familiar whispers in my heart told me that the inner work we were doing was real and significant – not just some woo-woo spiritual silliness like I had originally suspected.

Cacao is a powerful heart opener. It helps one get in touch with the heart energies in magical ways. Keith occasionally shares an indigenous myth that says: “Whenever the balance between humans and nature becomes threatened, cacao comes from the rain forest to open people’s hearts and returns us all to harmony.”

Other people find that chocolate is also an amazing creativity facilitator, connecting creative people with their inner guidance. I find that it helps me in my writing.

I need to add that not just any old chocolate will do. The processing of most commercial chocolate has removed most all of the health and consciousness compounds. Some Raw-foods and organic chocolates could actually be used for ceremony, but even many of them vary dramatically, depending on the source of the cacao, whether hybrid beans were used, etc… Keith very carefully sources his cacao from the wild varieties of cacao that have been bred by shamans on the pacific coast of Guatemala, for thousands of years.

No one knows exactly what the ancient Mayans, Aztecs, and others did with cacao. It is common knowledge that the ancients worshiped cacao as a Deity, and even the name of the main ingredient “theobromine” or “thebroma” literally means “Food for the Gods.”

In 2003, while living in San Marcos, Keith was contacted by the cacao spirit and began his journey. In all of his original research, talking to shamans and anthropologists, doing extensive web research, etc, he found absolutely nothing about traditional indigenous uses of cacao. It was only in the few years that followed, that Keith had private, synchronously-arranged encounters with a couple of indigenous groups (elsewhere in Central America) who wish to remain anonymous for now – both of which still use cacao as a tool for shamanic journeying. And in the last several years, Keith has also learned that there are a few chocolate shamans in South America, but they get little attention.

cacao pods

Photo provided by Keith Wilson
Cacao pods

How has cacao changed your life and your understanding of the universe?

Keith: Other than as an international seller of ceremonial grade cacao, cacao didn’t change my life.  I changed my life.  I teach others to do the same for themselves, accelerating the process everyone is already in.  Cacao does not work in the old shamanic model where the work is done to or for you, empowering the therapist.  Chocolate of the right type assists in connecting to whatever You want to connect to… to your sweetheart, your yoga, meditation, creativity, journeying, magic… ‘chocolate brings the door but doesn’t push you through it’.  Sorry, but “nothing changes until you do”.

Brenda: During the last three years, cacao has been an amazing partner in my life. I began this journey thinking I was a very right-brained, intuitive individual; but in retrospect, I was still very much stuck in my head (and still am to a lesser extent). During those first two years, I processed through many layers of extremely repressed emotional density, core beliefs, inner child stuff, past life stuff, inner masculine/feminine, and many deep ego patterns that are behind the separation. But during those first two years, I did most of my work on what Keith calls “The Hard Bus”. In many ways, during those two years, I feel as if I earned my PhD in Spiritual Psychology. I do not have a piece of paper from an accredited school to show for it, but I have the personal experience of doing the work myself, which, in my opinion, is far more valuable. Rather than reading about this stuff in a book, I put it to practice on myself (and helping others) … and the shift was (and continues to be) amazing.

But it was not until this last season of inner work that I finally began to understand what Keith calls “The Easy Bus” and “The Magic Bus.” In my cacao ceremonies this year, I have finally understood just how stuck-in-my-head I have been – how dependent on my head I have continued to be. I am finally learning to allow real Higher Energies – energies of light and love – to flow through me and to release emotional densities in magical ways. I still have to feel the emotions, some of which are quite agonizing, before I can ask the light to transmute them (and that is not always fun). But I have learned that as soon as I feel a deep layer of repressed emotion, that the Higher Energies literally can, and DO, come in and make the emotion vanish, replacing what was there with giggles of joyful love. Another thing I have learned is that none of us are ever completely done. Our pain body is in layers, and things come up when they are ready.

So, in these last three years I have done a crash course in spiritual psychology using chocolate as an amazing facilitator. Chocolate helps me feel the energies with less effort, and helps me access repressed emotional layers by making them obvious to me – helping to make the journey easier, and more fun (eventually).

I need to emphasize something very important here. Keith has often asked me to make it clear in my writing that not everyone needs to do their own emotional healing as slowly and painfully as my journey has turned out to be. For my writing and other yet-unknown-and-unrevealed reasons, I had a journey with needing to do everything the hard way at first so that can profoundly understand all the various healing situations of the human condition from a deep, personal-experience vantage point. Most people can simply use cacao (or other spiritual tools) to access their emotional reservoirs and then simply surrender them to the light without having to struggle to the core every time like I have done.

As far as understanding the Universe? I cannot say, in my case, that cacao itself has given me much rational mind understanding in this arena. I have gleaned countless profound insights from working with Keith, hanging on to the ones that resonate with my heart. Instead, cacao has helped me connect with the real energies that ARE the universe – the love in my heart, my guides etc… I have learned that rational mind understanding is not important at all. It is heart-based experience that is the treasure I now take with me. Yet, even after all I have done, I am still an infant in this category as well.

Toasting with chocolate at a San Marcos la Laguna cacao ceremony

Photo provided by Keith Wilson, Cacao Tribe image
Toasting with chocolate at a San Marcos la Laguna cacao ceremony

On Keith’s website, it says, “Sacred cacao/ chocolate is one of this planet’s major medicine-plant partners and facilitators, overlooked as it does not act as a psychedelic... but that does not mean it has no depth.” For those of us who haven’t tried ceremonial cacao, will you tell us what this facilitation process is like? Does cacao interact with our spiritual, physical, mental or/and emotional bodies? (Does it impact the way you feel in the body? Does it open spiritual doors?, etc.)  
Keith: This is the old-age psychedelic model through which you are attempting to understand cacao.  It is a left-brained model that is the primary addiction on this planet… one that no longer serves.  Cacao would help you get out of that fear-based culturally conditioned prison.  Cacao works with everyone right where they are.  With wherever they want to go, connect to, or understand.  If You don’t go anywhere or connect to anything, nothing happens.  “Hey Baby, I can take you to a really great place… No thanks, I want a partner, not a leader.”  Cacao doesn’t work in that old male model.

Brenda: Everyone has a different and unique experience with cacao. I have seen some amazing things in my approximately 500 chocolate ceremonies. I have seen and felt the energies of others as they connect to Higher Dimensions in profound ways, as they explore past lives, or connect to parallel realities etc. And I myself have many profound experiences that have forever changed my life.

But I, personally, am not sure exactly what the role of the cacao spirit was in those adventures. My heart tells me that cacao simply opened the door to my heart, opening my sensitivities to energies, opening the locked doors of emotional-density reservoirs, making my journeys possible. But, cacao did not actually take me on any of those journeys. Cacao was simply the partner that made them possible, holding magical space, connecting me to my emotional body, creating possibilities – but following those possibilities is my job. There is no doubt that if I had tried to use cacao by myself I might have been unimpressed at first, because I needed Keith’s energetic sensitivities to guide me into what I was feeling, helping me to understand what was happening,. etc. I was so shutdown that I did not trust any of my own feelings at first.

Now, today, I can easily make profound use of cacao’s facilitation, and I love it. When I drink cacao, I often feel a rush of energy in my body – that comes up in various areas depending on what I need to work on. One of the first things we usually do in a ceremony is what Keith calls “The Glow Meditation.” During that meditation we ask the smile in our heart to find us, we fill with light, and we follow whatever happens.

Sometimes it is time for more dark-shadow, inner density work. If that is the case, I usually feel some form of pains surfacing in my body. These pains are subconscious metaphors, “flags waving saying dig here,” designed to show a place in the body where emotions need to be explored. There are no formulas for this type of work. The key is to connect with the pain and to follow inner breadcrumbs, wherever our subconscious mind may lead us. In this process, cacao is a profound partner in making these intuitive connections come much more easily.

Other times, cacao opens up the possibility of beautiful expansion and healing in the light-shadow, light-expansion side. If this is the case, I usually feel beautiful energy flowing here or there, as well as certain body metaphors that I now recognize as a type of tightness that wants to release and expand.

I again want to emphasize that this is a personal process. Everyone does it differently. Cacao simply opens the door and makes it easier for each person to connect with their own unique version of inner guidance.

For me, I would say that cacao partners with my Higher Self and/or guides to help me access whatever I am ready to do, whether it is working with specific repressed emotions, or opening my heart, etc…

On a different note, I did a single one-on-one cacao ceremony with a friend when I was in Utah during the summer 2010. My friend is extremely connected to energies, but did not know it. With a single dose of cacao, while I simply observed and filled myself with supportive loving energy (we call it holding space), she took herself on an amazing journey, connecting directly with her guides, receiving her own direct guidance, healing emotions and being given profound inner knowing. I just sat there watching with amazement while she described her experience as it unfolded.

So, again, for each person, the experience is unique and different. In fact, I would also say that in all of my ceremonies, I have never been to one that was the same, and I could never predict what I will do next. It is not about rational-mind formulas or planning. It is about paying attention to inner feelings and following a trail of intuitive breadcrumbs.

You probably read on Keith’s website that, unlike psychedelics, “Cacao opens the door, but does not push you through it.”

I have seen many people at ceremonies who were stuck in their heads – people who had no idea what was going on in the ceremony, and who felt nothing at all. Cacao does not force people to do anything. If you are ready to connect with energies, cacao will help you do that – if, and only if you are ready and willing. And you can easily shut it all down and walk away. If you do that, most people might feel a buzz, as if they drank a triple cappuccino – but nothing more.

Drinking cacao at the chocolate shaman's Lake Atitlan, Guatemala headquarters

Photo provided by Keith Wilson, Cacao Tribe image
Drinking cacao at the chocolate shaman's Lake Atitlan, Guatemala headquarters

Is there a respectful, proper way to engage with cacao?  
Keith: Nope… there is your way.  It isn’t in the Form.  And that way could be a part of the egoic new-age circus, or profound transformation.  None of it is bad.  Those who would use cacao to help others with their inner-work… without having done their own work… serve those who don’t really want to go anywhere inside anyway.  For others, cacao fosters many hours of deep connected dancing, or creative snowboarding, as that is their choice, and they clear their own energies that way.  The only improper way to engage cacao is to take too much… where all that bitter will make you really sick!

Brenda: This is an interesting question. There is no official chocolate ceremony format. As I mentioned earlier, Keith knows of a few indigenous villages (remote, hidden, don’t want publicity) who still treat cacao as a sacred journeying tool for their special purposes. But in the Mayan world today, cacao is widely an unknown entity. The dried cacao seeds are often used in certain ceremonies, but to most all of these present-day shamans (more technically Mayan priests), the ancient knowledge of cacao has been forgotten.

Keith often says that he has no ownership of cacao, that he was guided to help introduce it back to the Western World, but that it is not his job to say what people do or do not do with it.

I know of many people who have come to Keith’s porch, and after just a small number of ceremonies they’ve decided to go off into the world and be chocolate shamans themselves. It is a “buyer beware” world out there in the spiritual communities. Some of the people now sharing chocolate with others are extremely gifted in energies, but have NOT done their own inner work – and as such, they may infuse a lot of their own ego (and belief systems) into what they do. I also know of amazing people who HAVE done profound inner work and who are taking their gift out to the world, using chocolate as a partner.

As far as I know, there is not right and wrong – there is not fixed ceremony – the cacao spirit simply works with people where they are at. We all create our own reality, and we attract into our experience exactly what (and who) we need. I would say that, even in a ceremony run by someone stuck in ego, that a participant could still have amazing heart-opening experiences. Every person out there doing sacred cacao ceremonies is doing them differently, following their own path, responding to their own guidance, engaging with cacao to help them do what it is that they do.

Keith uses cacao as a profound tool to assist in spiritual inner work and energy expansion. Others use cacao as an energy enhancer in spiritual-type yoga practices; some use it as a meditation tool; some use it as a group connection tool; some businesses use it to help employees be more in a heart space; and I have even heard of a few people serving it at wedding receptions (where everyone had an amazing heart connecting time).

I don’t believe that there is a wrong way to use cacao, and I do not believe that the cacao spirit is offended by anyone’s method of connecting with her. She works with people exactly where they are at, and will always add heart-opening assistance, no matter what the setting.

Brenda Larsen with friend at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Photo by Pyper Powell
Brenda Larsen (on left) with Pyper Powell at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

You talk about cacao as “food for the shift.” Please tell us more.
Keith: Cacao fosters an open-hearted focus. When I first began working with the Cacao Spirit, She referred to ceremonial grade chocolate as “the Food for the Shift”.  It took me a while to understand that this was literal.  That this type of cacao will play a major role in creative and spiritual planetary change.  Through acting as a connecting, opening, and partnering facilitator, it teaches you those arts...

On your website, you talk about “the various perspectives out there on cacao, particularly the radically differing ideas among the raw folks.” What do we need to know about today’s cacao market, and what should we look for when buying cacao?
Keith: Perhaps you have been drawn repeatedly to chocolate for decades because you have a Knowing that something is supposed to be there.  Hershey’s or Cadbury’s is missing 99% of the active compounds in real chocolate.  Lindt or Green and Black’s are missing about 80%.  It is the processing, the hybridization, and the natural variability of cacao that causes this.  Try cacao nibs from the Natural Foods Store. They will likely be from South American sources and be a little high in caffeine content and a bit weaker than is my preference, but are fully usable… try 1 to 1.5 ounces (28 – 42 gm).  The powder can be quite variable… try about half the amount as the cacao butter has been removed.  Nibs will have to be chewed well or ground thickly with water in a blender as they won’t soften in hot water without that grinding. If you like what you find, you are invited to order my cacao, selected by the Cacao Spirit, from my website.

And you might not like what you find… if cacao assists in bringing up negative material from your subconscious that your Divine Knowing is suggesting you need to release – and you know you need to push it right back down, or don’t understand the flowing pain-body tears as beneficial, or know what to do with them – consider returning to cacao later.  When you have reached a time in your life where it is imperative to let that stuff go so there is room for more of who you really are, and so the dramas that compel you to feel what you otherwise won’t feel… can leave your life.  Until then, use cacao for your favorite activity!  Or use it for its many health benefits with the cardiovascular system, cancer, diabetes… it’s all out there in the medical journals.

Isaias Mendoza bags chocolate in San Marcos la Laguna

Photo provided by Keith Wilson, Cacao Tribe image
Isaias Mendoza, Keith Wilson's partner in the cacao business, bags chocolate

Is it correct to say that cacao can be used as a spiritual facilitator – in yoga and meditation and ceremony, and as a creative facilitator – in art, writing, music and more?

Keith: I know many who use cacao in these ways, and more.  Try it and find out… remembering that if you are waiting for it to be ‘done to you’, you will likely be disappointed. If you have somewhere, inside or out, with another or by yourself, where you love to go… try ceremonial grade cacao as a partner.

Do you have a favorite cacao ceremony story/moment you’d like to share?
Keith: Yesterday I finished a week-long cacao intensive on the Greek Island of Lesvos. Everyone, including me, had wonderfully deep permanent changes and healing.  There were many tears in parting among new friends.  What is better than that?

Brenda: Probably one of the earliest trust-building experiences was in late November 2010. In the middle of a ceremony, I suddenly experienced what I could only describe as “lightning bolts” of energy shooting down my arms and out my fingers. It was the most profound energy I have ever felt, even to this day (other than a meditative experience in December, 2007).

I have shared all of my experiences in raw, personal detail in my blog. I tell them in first person story form, exposing all the embarrassing ego struggles as well as the positive amazing stuff. Earlier this year, as I was beginning to awaken to more of my heart magic, I went to a ceremony being particularly stuck in painful, rebellious, angry emotions – so much so that I was projecting them onto Keith, not even being sure if I wanted to continue ceremonies. During the ceremony that day, after diving and sobbing deep into the emotion, I was in a state where I wanted to wallow in that putrid place for the rest of my life. A short while later, a friend got my attention, and for more than an hour we stared into each other’s eyes.

Gradually, I found myself increasingly willing to let go of the emotion to which I was clinging. Eventually, I felt a tiny dance of Higher Energies begin to trickle down thorough my head, making their way down to my heart. Soon, the intense emotion was gone, but I felt kind of numb, still not happy and joyful. As time progressed, I finally had one of the most amazing experiences of my life as I was filed with growing joy and giggles – all a result of the magical flow of light and love. I literally felt the inner stories simply vanishing. I saw myself and everyone on the porch through the eyes of a higher observer – seeing the silly absurdity of believing all the stores that keep us trapped in dysfunction. To my delight, that state of pure transparency lasted for several days before I finally began to lose it and to return to a state of needing to process through more pain body stuff, again getting stuck. Over the course of the months that followed, I had many similar (but different) experiences. I attribute cacao as a major facilitator in making such magical experiences possible – but I still had to do the work myself.

Cacao ceremony in Santiago, Lake Atitlan

Photo provided by Keith Wilson, Cacao Tribe image
Cacao ceremony in Santiago, Lake Atitlan

Is chocolate your spiritual path?
Brenda: I would say NO … I do not consider chocolate to be my spiritual path. Yes, cacao has been, and still is a profound partner in my path, helping me do things I could have never accomplished in any other way.

It is funny, because in retrospect, I see many synchronicities in how I was guided to chocolate. I first came across cacao orchards when living for 10 days in a remote Mayan village in Belize (March 2010). I was fascinated by what I learned, actually being in the orchards in remote Belize jungles. It was then only four months later that I was then guided to find Keith, even though I had tried to avoid him.

Chocolate will forever be a profound partner in my path, but I feel it is now (very soon) time for me to follow guidance in other directions. Right now, I am feeling strongly pulled to Ecuador and Peru. Nothing is sure yet, however. Who knows (I certainly do not) … I may end up being a chocolate shaman myself … but only time will tell. I am someone who does not try to plan my future. Instead, I look for intuitions, feelings, synchronicities, and states of inner knowing … and I follow them. I know that writing books is in my future, but I also feel that I still have other spiritual adventures to follow first.

If more people meet the Cacao Spirit, do you think society-at-large might change? What would our planet be like if more of us engaged in cacao ceremonies? 
Keith: Watch it grow and see for yourself.  In a few years you will be able to get this type of cacao in Starbucks. Might change?  Might?  The change is a done deal.  The only thing being considered is whether you are going to do it on the hard bus or the easy bus.  Cacao will assist many in that drama bus change… I see it every day, but then that is my fun.

Brenda: I am among those who believe that the way to change the world is to change yourself – that the world we see and experience is an external mirror of the reality we carry inside. As we heal our own inner reality, we literally do heal the world right along with it. So, in that sense, I do not consider it my personal mission to change the world in an external way. Inside me, there is an undeniable passion to change my internal world. To this day, I carry deep limiting pain that continues to throw barricades into forward movement. I believe that when I heal these inner blocks, I am doing so, not just for me, but for the whole planet.

Of course, I believe that everyone who is ready to do so would greatly benefit from using cacao as a means of connecting with the inner realities (and the Universe).

There are three Carl Jung quotes that came into my life a few years ago. I want to share them here:

This first Carl Jung quote is from “Contributions to Analytical Psychology (1928). P.193:

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. They will practice Indian yoga and all its exercises, observe a strict regimen of diet, learn theosophy by heart, or mechanically repeat mystic text from the literature of the whole world – all because they cannot get on with themselves and have not the slightest faith that anything useful could ever come out of their own souls. Thus the soul has gradually been turned into a Nazareth from which nothing good can come. Therefore, let us fetch it from the four corners of the earth – the more far-fetched and bizarre it is the better!”

This second Carl Jung quote is from The Philosophical Tree (1945). In CW 13: Alchemical Studies. P.355:

“Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.”

The third Carl Jung quote is from “Contributions to Analytical Psychology (1928). P.193:

“Seldom, or perhaps never, does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly and without crises; there is no coming to consciousness without pain.”

I believe that any type of ceremonial cacao use will help to soften people’s hearts, and as each person does this, their own individual reality will shift accordingly. But no matter what happens “out there,” our world will not be changed for us by the work of others. We must go inside and face our own soul. And most people would rather die than do that. Our hospitals are filled with people who are presently dying from diseases which are the manifested result of unhealed, unreleased, unprocessed emotions. We must each go into our own inner reality and make the darkness conscious, then releasing it to the light. Cacao is an incredible tool in making this easier and more fun – but it is still something that, at least for now, most people find to be quite unpleasant.

Engaging with chocolate at one of Keith Wilson's cacao ceremonies

Photo provided by Keith Wilson, Cacao Tribe image
Engaging with chocolate at one of Keith Wilson's cacao ceremonies

Keith often shares how the energies on our planet are constantly rising, with increasing speed. Fifty years ago, it took decades for the energies of “what we put out into the world” to come back to us. In the 1990’s that interval was reduced to a few years. Now, in today’s energies, some people are having the results of their actions mirrored back to them in ways that can at times be instantaneous.

Keith points out that in the next ten years (and this resonates with me) that it will become nearly impossible not to realize that the negative energy we put out comes right back and smacks us in the face. Some will not survive the energetic whiplash of their own actions, but many will find it to be an inner imperative to begin shifting their inner realities. It will be obvious to them that the emotional densities they carry inside are manifesting as pain all around them and they will be forced to face this reality and make the changes inside themselves.

Some of us (including me) have that inner imperative to do our own inner work now, so that we can be there to help the masses in the next couple of decades. You cannot get this learning from a book. It is something you must do yourself in order to actually understand it. Keith humorously calls it the “been there, done that, got the t-shirt” principle. Those of us who have gone to the depths of our inner reality will have the inner license, compassion, and loving understanding to light the way for others who wish to do the same.

So yes, in that sense, for those drawn to use it, cacao will be a profound tool for a planet full of people who are increasingly feeling the inner imperative to heal what is inside.

Keith often shares that the cacao spirit once told him that one day, not too far down the road, that ceremonial-grade chocolate will be available in places like Starbucks. The world is a changing … but we still must each do our own inner work (with or without cacao) … and OUR world, the world that we experience, will continue to be a mirror of what we have inside us.

Thank you, Keith and Brenda, for talking to us about your experiences!

Have you ever tried ceremonial cacao or do you want to try it? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

By Kimbriel Dean


1. micah

July 17, 2013 at 5:01 PM

It is so amazing to me that the smallest things can change somebodies life like that. It is also bothersome to me that most people, espically Americans, eat chocolate almost everyday, and yet we've never experienced anything like this. It is definitely different, but I'm intrigued. I would try it.

2. Mike

July 17, 2013 at 5:26 PM

I admit I'm not well versed on the whole New Age/shamanistic movement, but I found this article to be enlightening. I'd previously heard of the beneficial aspects of chocolate (such as cardiovascular health and improved moods) so it's not too surprising to read about people delving deeper into its possible uses. If it truly works as the people in this article claim it does, then hopefully humanity will begin taking a greater look at alternative forms of medicine and therapy.

3. Mary

July 17, 2013 at 6:36 PM

So many North Americans, especially those who live in colder climes, have such warm memories of coming in from the out-of-doors to steaming cups of hot cocoa. It was fun to sit around the table with the family, safe from the cold, and enjoy the nourishing, sweet drink.
Now it seems, from evidence given by the folks in Guatemala, that perhaps our sense of community arising from drinking hot chocolate together wasn't only in our heads. Perhaps the chocolate itself, no matter how impure the brand, contributed to our feelings of solidarity with our families, however transient.

4. Amy

July 17, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Wow, I certainly have heard all my life about drugs opening the doors of perception, so why not chocolate? And unlike with drugs, how much could it really hurt you, as long as you exercise and eat well most of the time? Lately, I have really been getting into savoring all of the food and drink that I take in, and I exercise even more now than I did in my twenties. I feel a lot less spiritual, but, paradoxically, that's only because my material situation right now is so unstable and terrifying. Could it be that it's not actually more money that I need, but more chocolate?! Whoopee!

Thanks to everyone out there like Brenda who has the courage not only to change her life, but also to share her story about it. Just because a person makes a conscious choice to live outside secure circumstances, rather than this happening beyond her control, does not mean that it's any less frightening to leave it all behind. I'm going to be thinking about Brenda for a lot longer than just this moment, and knowing that my feelings will be more positive about my own life and the possibilities that lie ahead, just because of her.

5. Oscar

July 19, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Chocolate or Cacao was considered a drink from the Gods but ancient tribes in the Americas. Chocolate has important nutrients and it is also delicious. It is important however we eat chocolate in a proper way. It is very interesting to see that people related chocolate to positive energies, similar to those beliefs of ancient times. Enjoying a delicious food and helps us to get closer to positive energies is something we all should do. A trip to the chocolate lands in Central and South America and meeting with the indigenous people and sharing experiences must be unforgetable.

6. Teresa

July 25, 2013 at 2:19 PM

I believe that any natural plant that comes from this earth is good for us and has something special about it. All plants are living energy. It is a shame that the chocolate we eat is processed and have so much dead ingredients added to it. I have an entirely new respect for cacaco!
Food and spirituality are one and are not to be separated.

7. zena

July 25, 2013 at 3:23 PM

This article is very refreshing. What better way to return to nature and natural healing remedies rather than pharmacological substances. This medicine man is what society needs more of. We need to reduce the widespread dependency on meds and increase awareness on this very thing.

8. Jennifer

August 8, 2013 at 6:36 PM

I've very much been on my own spiritual journey over the last year. I've delved deeply into trying to understand and know who I really am. I so appreciate Keith and Brenda's perspective that Cacao is a partner, rather than a leader in your journey. It's also interesting to me that they assign gender to the journey. At one point Keith mentions that Cacao isn't that "male" journey: authoritative, aggressive, dominant. Rather, Cacao is a gentle leader that opens your heart to new energies and creativities, much like we tend to think about feminine energies.

It's also great to read and learn about something that can elevate consciousness and experience that is legal, safe, and natural. It's accessible and available to anyone who wishes to try to connect in a higher way with their self.

I've never heard of Cacao as a spiritual guide, but I am definitely interested in trying this!

9. tracy

August 22, 2013 at 12:32 AM

I have never heard of ceremonial cacao and do not know enough to even say that I would try it. I will as I see articles about this subject continue to increase my knowledge.

10. Alex

October 7, 2013 at 4:41 PM

It's wonderful to see that there are people that truly appreciate the smaller things in life. I believe that chocolate does have mild psychedelic properties that can attribute to enriching your spiritual life. There is a chemical called theobromine that acts as a mild euphoria-inducing agent in the brain - perhaps this can be accounted for in chocolate's role in spirituality? I wonder what other common foods have properties that can enhance one's well-being and spirituality?

11. charles

February 14, 2014 at 6:57 PM

For the past two years I have been fascinated with foraging for wild foods in my back yard (225 acres in Appalachia ). The things that grow here are the weak cousins of the edibles touted in the field guides. Wild lettuce , a psychedelic, was the only thing that grows here that seemed worth sharing. I have too mush to do to spend my life in a buzz.
After reading Keith and Brenda interview, maybe I should head for the whole foods store and buy some cocoa to share with my friends who come to my place to commune with nature.