Cacao’s Usage in History
Cacao was a drink that only the elite had access to back then and warriors would drink a cup before engaging in battle. They’d even pack a few cocoa beans in their armor for added strength. The Mayans and Aztecs also had their preferred ways of drinking cacao, Mayans preferred to drink their cacao warm while the Aztecs preferred to drink their cacao cold. There are many creation stories to how the Aztecs discovered cacao but one of them relates to the god Quetzalcoatl (the feathered serpent god) who discovered cacao one day in the mountains and brought the sacred medicine to the people to use and cultivate.
Ancient Benefits of Cacao
Cacao was used for medical and health purposes in the Mayan and Aztec culture and they used it in multiple daily activities. They’d brush their teeth with cacao and dentists would even fill in their cavities with cacao since it was known to remove rotten teeth. The cacao husks are known to protect the teeth from cavities and it was their modern-day fluoride. They drank the cacao and crushed the cacao beans to make chocolate since it helped them become strong and healthy because of the quercetin which contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
The modernization of cacao is present worldwide through the act of cacao ceremonies. These safe spaces allow people to gather together to drink cacao in a ritualistic way while gaining more clarity from the experience. Facilitators usually guide you through a guided meditation, often with sounds and gentle movement practices involved. Afterward, people usually gather in a circle and drink the cacao together. This modern-day practice still incorporates the ancient Mayan practices, by honoring the plant but at the same time, it allows a space for people to learn and appreciate the benefits of cacao.