Did you know chocolate has a theological side to it? It’s true. So who is the God of Chocolate - or should we say - the Goddess?
The history of Chocolate dates back to ancient Mesoamerica. Mesoamerica is the region that covers present day Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Northern Costa Rica. The people of that time believed that chocolate seeds were a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom. Chocolate seeds were so valuable that they were also used as currency. Originally, chocolate was served as a dark bitter beverage. It was often mixed with corn puree and spices. Today, such drinks are known as Chilate in Northern and Central America. Sugar was added to chocolate after it arrived in Europe.
Ixcacao is the Goddess of chocolate. Her origins can be traced back to ancient Mayan traditions. In the old world, she was known as a goddess of fertility. In the matriarchal society, she was an earth Goddess. She even goes by different names in various mythologies.
Ixcacao was very proud of her grandsons, as they were both fine talented boys, skilled in art, music, architecture, and sculpting. However, she would fear that something important was disappearing from the world, and the day of reckoning was upon them.
Writing this article involved a ton of research into Mayan mythologies and the various deities they looked up to. After scouring the internet, we’ve gathered a thorough understanding of how Ixcacao was viewed by the Mayan people and what she represented.
Ixcacao - the Chocolate Goddess
There are so many adaptations of the story of Ixcacao, the chocolate goddess. As we have discussed, Ixcacao has been worshiped by many throughout history as the goddess of fertility. She is looked up to as an entity that gave nurturing and healing to the young.
Let’s break down her name. The “Ix” in Ixcacao is used to refer to her feminine energy. In English, she is referred to as the “chocolate woman.” In ancient times, the prefix “Ix” was an endearing term for women. It meant “little one.”
Ixcacao in Mayan Culture
In Mayan myths and traditions, Ixcacao is the entity that introduced the world to agriculture. She is also known to have played a part in the birth of two sacred twins. She believed that it was her duty to make sure everyone had an abundance of food and no one went hungry. Furthermore, using her motherly energies, she would ensure the safety and protection of her people.
During her time, patriarchy began to take control. In the early days of this societal shift, the idea of kings, dynasties, and a ruling class became popular. It was around this point that arts and other areas of study (like astronomy) flourished. History was also being documented in the form of glyphs.
With time, statues and palaces started appearing to celebrate the ruling patriarchs. Some time went by, and cities started to emerge as centers for the wealthy and powerful people.
The idea of women serving the patriarchy became the norm. In the middle of these societal changes, the King’s attention diverted to Ixcacao as he saw her powers and her capabilities. To appease his greed, he took her away from her people, so she could serve him and his men.
Right away, the king demanded her hand in marriage for the God of Commerce. That was part of the reason why the cacao beans became a valuable form of currency. Even to this day, the cacao bean is known as one of the oldest forms of currency.
What really upset her was the fact that the King referred to chocolate as the food of the Gods. Consequently, he made it accessible only to the ruling class and his military men. Around this point, she realized that the people outside the kingdom were suffering from hunger and starvation.
Similarly, the practice of taking children from the fields and sacrificing them to appease the sun for drought prevention also began in full swing. Ixcacao was devastated to see her people suffer.
Early Uses of Chocolate to Reduce Suffering and Pain
One day, she saw some children walking up to their executioner. She went after them and made them drink some cacao to comfort them before they met their demise. Since then, the practice of giving cacao to children prior to their execution has become a custom.
Every time she would see the suffering of her people, she couldn’t help but compare it to the life of excess the rich people were leading. The Goddess of Love was watching this disparity very closely. When she saw the worsening conditions of the poor people, she joined forces with the Goddess of Chocolate and they conspired against this divide, to restore love and abundance for all.
They taught the royal cook ways to make the wine even more intoxicating. They also spread word about cacao’s aphrodisiac powers. The rich and powerful indulged even more in wine and cacao. The greed for power increased and war broke out between the states.
It is said that The Emperor Montezuma would drink more than 40 glasses of cacao to replenish his sexual strength. This strength would help him satisfy his lustful desires in the harems. During the wartime, the peasants were off to war, while their fields were being used as battlegrounds. Starvation and hunger, which lead to the decline of the kingdoms.
After the demise of the kingdoms, Ixcacao returned to her people not only as the fertility goddess, but also as the Goddess of love. She made them realize that there was more to life than serving the rich and the corrupt. She restored the health and happiness of her people, and they didn’t have to bow down to any human masters again.
The story of Ixcacao, the Goddess of Chocolate is relevant even to this day. From her story, we learn that life isn’t just about making money or accumulating piles of wealth. Life is about happiness, health, peace, brotherhood, comradery and most importantly “love.”
About THE AUTHOR
Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.Read More About Lori Gilmore