Ceremonial cacao has a long history of use among the indigenous Maya of Belize and the indigenous Maya from Belize have a rich and diverse history. The Maya civilisation is one of the most significant and advanced ancient civilisations, known for their impressive achievements in architecture, mathematics, astronomy, agriculture, and arts. Ceremonial Cacao played a central role in the traditional culture of the Maya of Belize, and was used in a variety of ways to promote health and well-being, and to connect with the spiritual world
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The Maya history in Belize
The ancient Maya civilization, which flourished in what is now modern-day Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, had a deep and complex relationship with the plant medicine cacao, the plant from which chocolate is made. The Maya saw cacao as a sacred gift from the gods and it played a central role in many if not all of their ceremonies and rituals.
In Belize, the Maya civilisation thrived for thousands of years, leaving behind remarkable archaeological sites such as Caracol, Xunantunich, and Lamanai. These sites offer a glimpse into the ancient Maya’s impressive cities, temples, pyramids, and elaborate stone carvings.
Ceremonial cacao has a long history of use among the indigenous Maya of Belize. According to archaeologists and historians, the Maya first began cultivating cacao around 1000 BCE in the tropical lowlands of the Yucatan Peninsula.
However recent finding of pottery with residue of cacao remainings been dated much older. And when you ask a Mayan elder or spiritual leader of any Maya tribe the changes are they tell you cacao has been present the moment humanity arrived.
The Maya developed sophisticated techniques for growing, harvesting, and processing the cacao beans. There connection with the cosmos or the Maya Cosmovision tells them when is the right season for harvesting or planting their sacred crops. Ceremonial Cacao was traditionally used in a variety of ways, as a sacred beverage to promote overall health and well-being, as a treatment for specific ailments, and as a ceremonial substance, a sacred offering to the energies of existence and a gate way int higher states of conciousness
Ceremonial Cacao usage
Besides using cacao in their sacred ceremonies and rituals, the Maya in Belize also used cacao in their political and economic systems. They used cacao beans as a form of currency, and they were often given as gifts to seal important deals or alliances. Cacao beans were so valuable that they were sometimes used as a form of tax payment, and they were also given as offerings to the gods during important ceremonies.
To consume this “Food of the Gods” they ground up the cacao beans and mixed it with water and other spices. The Maya believed that this sacred cacao drink had medicinal properties and it was often used in ceremonies and rituals as a way to honour the gods and ancestors.
In the modern-day Belize, cacao continues to play a significant role in the lives of the indigenous Maya people. Many Maya communities in Belize still cultivate cacao as a source of income, and they continue to use it in traditional ceremonies and rituals as a way to honour their ancestors and connect with their cultural heritage.
According to Maya tradition, cacao was considered to be a gift from the gods, and was believed to possess special powers and properties. It was often consumed in the form of a beverage, which was made by grinding the whole cacao beans into a fine powder and mixing the powder with water or milk. Depending on the tradition, treatment or energy of the day, other ingredients such as spices, herbs, or sweeteners may have been added to the cacao to enhance its flavour and medicinal properties.
The Maya believed that cacao had a number of health benefits, and it was often used as a nourishing supplement to promote overall health and well-being. It was believed to have to have spiritual & energising properties and a number of medicinal properties, used to treat a variety of ailments, including nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and stress. The Maya believed that Ceremonial Cacao could help to connect them with the spiritual world, and ancestors and it was often used in rituals and ceremonies related to birth, death, and other important life events.
Ceremonial cacao is deeply integrated into the daily lifestyle of the indigenous Maya of Belize. Even upon my personal visit to the Maya families in Belize, I was offered a cup of cacao at the home of 1 of the families. This is still a normal custom for the indigenous Maya families to offer to visitors that come from far. Not just after a intens long journey to nourish the body with vital nutrients but also to open up the dialogue to speak with the guest with an open heart.
Nowadays for the indigenous Maya in Belize
Today, the indigenous Maya people continue to maintain their cultural heritage and traditional way of life in Belize. They are divided into several distinct groups, including the Yucatec, Kekchi, and Mopan Maya. The Maya communities primarily reside in the southern and western regions of Belize, particularly in the districts of Toledo, Cayo, and Stann Creek.
The Maya in Belize have preserved their traditional practices, including agriculture, weaving, pottery, and medicinal knowledge. They have a deep connection with the land and practice sustainable farming techniques, cultivating crops such as maize, beans, squash, and cacao.
The Maya language is still spoken among the indigenous communities, although English and Spanish are also commonly used. In most of the rural areas high in mountains, the indigenous communities only speak their local language. Traditional clothing, music, dance, and ceremonies are integral to their cultural identity, and festivals such as the Deer Dance and the Juego de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers) are celebrated to showcase their heritage. However, a lot of their ancient culture has been lost after the Spanish inquesition into Meso-America. Oral transmission os ancient practises got lost due to the oppression os the christian church. And even now you can see and feel how our western socialty influances and shapes the new generation of young indigenous Maya people.
Tourism plays a significant role in promoting Maya culture in Belize. Visitors can engage in community-based tourism initiatives that allow them to experience Maya village life, participate in traditional activities, and learn about their customs and beliefs.
Despite their cultural resilience, Maya communities in Belize face challenges such as poverty, limited access to education and healthcare, land disputes, and preservation of their cultural heritage. Efforts are being made to address these issues and support the sustainable development of the Maya communities while respecting their rights and cultural practices.
Herbal Cacao is supporting the indigenous Maya of Belize as much as we can by supporting local cacao farmers and paying them a stable, above market value price for their ceremonial cacao. In this way the local families have more time and money to invest into their homes and communities.
Overall, the indigenous Maya in Belize are an integral part of the country’s cultural fabric, and their rich history and traditions continue to captivate locals and visitors alike.
Get your own supply of Ceremonial Cacao from indigenous Maya families from Belize in our online webshop
If you want to taste a sip of authenticity from the indigenous Maya from Belize then we highly recommend to try out our Cacao. We offer “Natural 100% pure cacao, that just requires some hot water to melt it into the ancient “throthy” cacao drink. Or explore our medicinal blends with the traditional Maya spices like Cayenne pepper, cinnamon and vanilla.