Since ancient times, the Maya have held a special interconnected relationship with the Sacred Cacao. Although once on the edge of being lost during the Spaniard invasions, cacao is now renowned worldwide for its ability to restore balance, harmony, and healing. Fortunately, the Maya protected this potent medicine, which has withstood the test of time. To this day, Maya nations like the Q’eqchi’ nation guard its information and strive to protect their lands, altars, and cacao forests with their lives.
How cacao almost disappeared during the Spaniard invasion?
When the Spaniards invaded Guatemala in the 15th century, they recognized cacao's incredible value and richness.
Consequently, they decided to prohibit its practices among the Maya communities, among exploitative intentions, involving theft, enslavement of local populations, and various other atrocities. The conquistadors brought cacao to different parts of the world, altering its traditional use by creating sugary, artificial chocolate. This departure from the sacred medicinal use of cacao marked a significant shift in its historical significance, leading to its true use being torn apart and forgotten.
At one point, cacao almost faced extinction when coffee became very popular and there was more demand for coffee than cacao. European immigrants to the Americas, avid coffee enthusiasts, prioritized coffee cultivation over cacao. This is the reason why you now see so many coffee farms across Central America, fueled by the region's ideal climate for coffee cultivation. The enduring love for coffee persisted, maintaining its high demand. Then, the appetite for chocolate increased again, and now we can see there is even a high demand for cacao. Consequently, cacao farms began to emerge in various countries worldwide, responding to the growing global interest. Unfortunately these modern farms where cacao is grown for the chocolate industry are monocultures that damage the environment.
The traditional meaning of sacred cacao for the Maya
In Pre-Hispanic times, cacao was so greatly valued that a group of people known as the Pochtecas, after the word 'pocha' for cacao pod, would transport cacao throughout the entire continent.. Over time, cacao transformed into a symbolic gift and offering presented to divine energies. During important celebrations marking significant cycles, it became a gesture of gratitude for the gift of existence.
The Mayan Ceremony of Kotzij' emphasizes presenting the finest offering, with Sacred Cacao being the esteemed choice for the Mayab'. This practice underscores the enduring spiritual significance of cacao in expressing reverence and appreciation.
The physical, mental and spiritual benefits of Sacred Cacao
Abundant in antioxidants, sacred cacao shields our cells from oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting cardiovascular health and cognitive function. While supporting in managing high blood pressure, caution is advised for those on relevant medications due to potential contraindications. Cacao's ability to traverse the blood-brain barrier makes it a powerful ally in addressing stress, anxiety, and fostering positive mental health and addiction recovery. Enriched with essential minerals like magnesium and chromium, influencing over 300 cellular processes, cacao emerges as a crucial nutritional powerhouse.
Beyond its physical attributes, cacao holds profound spiritual significance, serving as a conduit connecting individuals to their hearts, the Earth, the creative force, and each other.
Are you interested in learning more about healing practices and recipes passed down by the Maya for millennia?
At The Mayan Wisdom Project, our mission is to transmit authentic ways to enjoy this powerful medicine while preserving its most traditional uses.
That's one of the reasons we created the Cacao Challenge starting on March 3rd 2024. Over the course of 20 days, you will be able to create a life-changing relationship with yourself and cacao but also discover ancestral practices and recipes respectfully shared.
Guided by the 20 Sacred Energies of the Cholq'ij Calendar, each day of the challenge unfolds as a unique experience, aligning with the energies that govern all of life and the Earth's cycles.
Sign up for this extraordinary experience of healing and transformation, nourishing your mind, body, and spirit while learning so much about ancient Maya traditions. There is a free version!