You may not realize it, but each time you enjoy ceremonial cacao, whether it is in community, with friends & family, or on your own, you are connecting with centuries of Mayan tradition that goes back to the dawn of their civilization.
Since ancient times, ka’kaw has played a significant role in all facets of life for the Mayans. Its history is interwoven with their history past and present. In modern day these stories are known, as they have been passed down orally through generations and later confirmed through archeological discoveries.
SINCE THE TIME OF EUROPEAN COLONIZATION, MAYAN NATIONS HAVE HAD TO PROTECT CACAO, WHETHER IT WAS IN HIDING OR EVEN PROTECTING THE LAND WITH THEIR LIVES. TO THIS DAY, THERE ARE OUTSIDERS WHO WISH TO USE THE PRECIOUS LANDS WHERE CACAO GROWS FOR MINING OR FOR FARMING IN WAYS THAT ARE NOT RESPECTFUL OF MAYAN AGRICULTURE.
Before the arrival of colonizers, the Mayan people lived generally in peace. They had a deep understanding of how to live healthy lives, how to organize strong communities, and cacao’s impact can be seen in all these areas. Cacao is known for its nutritional benefits - vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants - and therefore was included not only as the beverage many of us know today, but also as an ingredient in many recipes. As an integral part of nutrition and agriculture, cacao played a role in the health of Mayan communities. As they were healthy and well-nourished, they were able to study and learn. When they gathered, they could use cacao to facilitate dialogue and mediate conflict. As they progressed in meeting and discussing, they shared and grew in knowledge. From there, the Mayan elders knew that cacao also supported the spiritual growth of human beings. Therefore the Mayans knew by sharing knowledge it could grow into wisdom that would benefit all.
TRUE ANCESTRAL CACAO FARMING AND PRODUCTION IS NOTHING LIKE THE MASS PRODUCTION OF WHAT IS KNOWN AS CHOCOLATE.
With the understanding of how important and sacred cacao is to human life on all levels, the planting, harvesting, and production of cacao are held in community and in deep reverence. There is an understanding that cacao has naturally symbiotically grown along jade deposits where the jaguar and quetzales reside. This has deep spiritual significance with the Mayan geo-cosmovision of the underworld, our world, and the upperworld. As thus, the cacao farmers who are respectful pay special consideration to the land where cacao is grown. Here there are what westerners refer to as cacao ceremonies - Kotzij’ to the Mayans. At the time of planting cacao beans, when the cacao trees produce flowers, and at the time of harvest, there are Kotzij’ to give thanks to all the energies, elements, and more that come together to give us cacao, and where cacao is an offering given back to the guardians and energies in these Kotzij’.
Once cacao is harvested, it continues to be handled with great care. This process is completed almost entirely by hand. From harvest, to sun drying, to roasting, to peeling, and then grinding, typically only hands, stone, or wood have touched the beans, to protect the feminine energy of the cacao. Yet on those occasions if metal or something else which is seen as masculine and which could impact the sacred cacao has been used, it is always with care and intention. All tools that come in contact, whether they be considered feminine or masculine, are thanked for their involvement and care, are cleansed, and if considered of masculine energy are asked to be gentle with the sacred cacao.
IT IS THIS DEEP, LIVING HISTORY, TRADITION, AND CARE THAT ALLOWS US TO EXPERIENCE SACRED CACAO TODAY. WE CAN THANK THE ELDERS OF THE PAST AS WELL AS ALL THOSE WHO HAVE PROTECTED AND CONTINUE TO PROTECT THIS SACRED MEDICINE THROUGH ALL OF TIME.
The time we are living in has been predicted by the ancient Mayan elders. It is a time where the emerging elders, spiritual leaders, have been called to share knowledge with the people of all the world, and sacred cacao is the medicine that is supporting this sharing. With each cup you enjoy or share, you are connected with the heart of the Sky, the heart of the Earth, and with all of the elements - fire, earth, air, water - which all come together to create sacred cacao. When we take the time to understand and give thanks, we truly connect with the gift of sacred cacao. So the next time you enjoy a cup of cacao, take a moment to consider for yourself what the history and legacy of this medicine means to you.
To experience the magic of ceremonial cacao and ancient Mayan tradition, head to our Mayan Marketplace to explore our range!
By Stephanie from the Mayan Wisdom Project.