Essentially, what makes cacao ceremonial/therapeutic grade are the strain of beans used, care that goes into its cultivation, and Respect that runs through every step of the cacao making process.
The Ayni Way only works with small holder farming communities who dedicate their lives to the conservation of heirloom varieties, which is part of their ancestral heritage. These varieties are continuously threatened by hybrid strains such as CCN51 entering the eco system, so its of great importance that we support these ethical practices by paying a fair amount for their crop. Our Kichwa communities use a traditional farming method called Charkra, which is closely aligned with permaculture principles - a plant is only cut or planted if its in harmony with the eco system. These farmers essentially work their own land where they grow other foods such as plantain, coffee, yucca and other plants native to the region. There are many more steps involved in bringing our cacao to you - fermentation, drying, transportation, roasting and grinding, before our cacao paste is set into blocks. We are conscious of how much care and skill is needed throughout.
When cultivated and processed in the right way, Cacao is a superfood that acts as a natural antidepressant, reducing stress and anxiety. Consuming a ceremonial dose (typically between 20 and 42g) induces the release of feel-good endorphins. It is a source of tryptophan, the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which puts us in a good mood. Cacao also triggers the release of dopamine, anandamide and endorphin phenylethylamine (PEA), all of which give us a sense of positivity and universal Love - anandamide is known as the ‘bliss molecule’. Its caffeine and Theobromine content also keeps us energised during our connection with Cacao spirit.
Physical health benefits
Another reason to drink more ceremonial grade cacao is because it is rich in free radical-fighting antioxidants. Our immune systems are constantly under pressure due to an increase in toxicity levels found in our food and environment. Being known as the food with the highest amount of antioxidants, cacao does a great job cleaning our bodies of free-radicals, while delivering over 300 nutrients at the same time into our system. It also supports cardiovascular health and more... Theoretically, you could (although we don't recommend it) eat cacao as your sole source of nutrients and you'd be in good shape!
We all need more Magnesium
One of the most powerful minerals found in cacao is Magnesium, which most of the population happens to be deficient in. Magnesium is important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and making protein, bone, and DNA - just one ceremonial dose of cacao (42g) contains 50% of our daily recommended allowance.
On an Energetic level
Every plant has a spirit, as does all life, and cacao is a powerful teacher within the plant world. To get true benefit from teacher plants we must express our gratitude to them for sharing wisdom. This begins by ensuring the cacao has been sourced ethically/sustainably and ends with applying lessons learnt from our connection with cacao spirit. It’s an energetic process, beginning to end. What we have learned through the ‘Ayni’ journey is that this process also applies to every aspect of our lives. There is no coincidence that cacao has presented herself to us in these testing times. Many of us are looking for answers that can only be found within - this is done by opening our hearts and connecting with source. Cacao is here to serve us through this process, and we are here to serve her by being natures stewards.