The Science and Spirit of Cacao with Raw Chocolatier Daniel Sklaar

As a shamanic practitioner, my work is often centered on touching into the energies of Mother Earth to connect with spirit in body and mind. One of my favorite and essential earth-based medicines is cacao. Cacao is a sacred heart-opener which brings forth a higher visionary state. I lead cacao ceremonies for others and also use cacao for myself as a way of tuning into my heart, supporting vibrant connection with others, and stepping into a space of collaborative vision.

My love of cacao isn’t new. When I was a child, I was only a little obsessed with peanut butter Twix! It brought me a sense of delight and specialness, as chocolate of all kinds does for many people. As an adult, nutrition has become one of the backbones of my spiritual practice and lifestyle. Some of the factors guiding my choices include the importance of sustainable nourishment that is good for other humans (sourced in a way that respects labor) and good for the planet (sustainably farmed). Based on these criteria, this means that’s out with many candy bars – and in with sacred cacao. Cacao, in its purest form, helps people connect with the inner truth of their hearts and initiates profound vision.

Cacao as a Sacred Ceremonial Plant

Sacred ceremonial cacao actually dates back thousands of years. The Maya and Aztec people revered it as a gift from the gods. They even used it as currency – and its benefits for the body are no secret. Rich in magnesium and calcium, raw organic cacao has more antioxidants than pomegranates, red wine, and goji berries combined, and is the highest plant-based source of iron. This powerful plant medicine lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol, increases blood flow to the brain, and releases feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

Fine + Raw Food for Thought

Few people I know understand both the science and spirit of this medicine like my dear soul brother, Daniel Sklaar. Some years ago, he had a vision. And the “food for thought” he saw was a cacao factory! Daniel went into the laboratory and his experiments created one of my favorite lines of raw chocolate, Fine + Raw. He agreed to sit down with me and tell me some of his secrets – also known as the vision behind the medicine. After all, in shamanic practice, the energy of cacao is all about sharing with others.

Daniel began his career journey as a financial analyst. The dream to create raw chocolate was, as he calls it, a “leap of faith.” His story speaks to the inspiring energy in chocolate itself. As he says, “That feeling of creativity is something that is so strong and alive in what I do. Even on a small level, looking towards creativity and belief that something could manifest from creativity. It’s about innovation and being able to work with people and all these things that connect us on a daily basis. Following your heart is so important to me – although it seems like madness so much of the time, it’s at the forefront of everything.”

Passion for Cacao

Daniel’s passion for cacao is molecular. It contains some of the same chemicals that the body makes when we fall in love and are happy, like PEA, or phenylethylamine, and anandamide, from the Sanskrit word ananda, meaning “bliss.” As he puts it, cacao is also a diuretic; it allows “messages to flow better.” He says cacao also “works on your cardiovascular system to open passages.”

Cacao also contains some mild MAO-inhibiting phytochemicals. It is as Daniel reflects, a “more merciful concoction” than the cathartic journey of another plant medicine containing MAOI-inhibitors, ayahuasca.

As Daniel and I have engaged in our collaborative vision, we have begun experimenting with an idea of combining his medicinal expertise and my shamanic work. Those who have followed my path and work know that eagle is the Native American symbol for highest vision. And it is the medicine guide and power animal I connect with most. Stay tuned, as eagle-inspired sacred cacao is coming soon!

Cacao Ceremonies in LA

Parashakti and Urban Exhale Founder Joe K practicing a Cacao Ceremony with Joe K. Photo by Vanessa Viola.

Cacao Ceremonies with Sacred Path Card readings are available with Parashakti at Urban Exhale Yoga Center. To book your individualized or group session please call the Center: 323-592-3209 or email: