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Ceremonial Grade Cacao

The Long History Of Cacao Briefly Told

Cacao, Theobrama cacao, is a food of the gods (Theo - god, Brama - food, eating).

Botanically, the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) belongs to the mallow family. It originates from the rainforests of the western Amazon, which is also where the traces of the origins of its ritual use lead. Here, on the Gulf Coast in Mexico, the Olmecs lived about 1500 years BC. Although they initially had no cultivation areas of their own, they are said to have already used the witty fruit. Initially, they obtained cacao from the Mayan peoples living to the south. To ensure their long-term supply of cacao, they later conquered a cultivation area on the Pacific coast, which can be found today between Mexico and Guatemala.

Both the Maya and the Aztecs were very aware of the high value of the cacao bean. Since they considered cacao a sacred and spiritual plant, they used it not only as a means of payment for religious ceremonies but also as a drink at festive occasions. At times, cacao was even reserved exclusively for the wealthy and socially highly respected.

Prepared as a hot or cold drink, it was often refined with vanilla, chili or other hot spices and sweetened with honey as desired.

The ritual of drinking cacao was passed down from generation to generation by the Mayans and Incas. Through Spanish conquistadors, Europeans also came into contact with the cacao fruit at the end of the 16th century. However, they did not develop a real love for cacao until a few decades later, when the idea of adding sugar to cacao was born. This made the drink edible for the European palate as well. Thus, it is no longer exclusively the indigenous cultures of Central & South America that make use of the fruit of the gods. On the other hand, the shamanic RItual is nowadays celebrated worldwide.

In Mayan cosmology, the plant spirit of cacao is considered one of the most powerful beings. According to an indigenous myth, the spirit always appears and begins to act when the harmony between man and nature is out of balance. In this sense, the cacao is the medicine of change and peace. Whether this fact is also a reason for the increasing popularity of cacao in Western societies is a matter of speculation.

3rd of June, 2022

Hanna Krause

Reading time
3 minutes

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