The Goddess of Chocolate
The Goddess of Chocolate/Cocoa had humble but honorable origins as a Mayan Goddess. Named Ixcacao, she was an ancient fertility goddess, an earth goddess in a matriarchal society where gathering crops and seeing to it that everyone was fed was woman's work.
The Grandmother, the goddess Ixmucanẻ, was worried.
Talk about stress! Her two sons had been killed while off on an adventure in the Underworld. Like many grandmothers today, Ixmucanẻ was left to rear her grandchildren.
Since the women did most of the work planting, harvesting and cooking, the grandsons had a lot of free time on their hands . . . time to explore the professions and the arts and to play with politics. Although her grandsons were both fine boys and she was very proud of them and their achievements (they were fine architects, musicians, sculptors, and artists), she couldn't help but fret that something very vital was disappearing from the world and that, eventually, there would be a day of reckoning.
For Ixmucanẻ was the last of the soothsayers, the ones who had the knowledge and were wise with the knowledge in the ways of the Earth, ones who could feel the rhythms of Nature coursing through their veins. Ones who were 'seers', had the gift of foresight and knew how to manage their awesome responsibilities for the earth wisely.
"What would happen," she worried, "when she grew old and the last of her kind died out?" Occupied by these dark musings, she was startled to look up and find a pregnant young woman standing before her.
The young woman approached the old goddess reverently and took a long, deep breath, trying to work up the courage to speak.
"Grandmother, I carry within me the children of your son who has gone to the heavens. My father, the Lord of the Underworld, says I have shamed him and cast me out. I have no where else to go. Please take me in and let your grandchildren have a home with you."
"How could my son be the father?", asked Mamma Cane. "Both of my sons died in your land."
"My name is Ixquic or 'Blood Moon'. I was there under the calabash bush when your son Hunahpu was decapitated by the soldiers. His bloody head continued to talk to me after he died. It spat upon my hand and it was this that caused me to conceive these twins."
Not in the best of moods to begin with, Ixmucanẻ was understandably skeptical. "Just another gold-digger", she thought, "Who knows who the real father of those babes was?"
But, just as the Greek goddess Aphrodite did to her daughter-in-law Psyche, Ixmucanẻ set a test to learn if what the young woman said was true. (She would. after all, be pleased to add to her bloodline if the unborn twins actually were seers like she was -- indeed the future of the kingdom might even depend upon it.
So she gave the young woman a big net and said, "Here, take this to my field and don't come back until it's full of food." Full of confidence that she could easily do this thing, Ixquic headed for the field where she then found that there was only one plant growing . . . a single cob of wild corn.
What was she to do?
Dropping to her knees in despair, she called on other goddesses for help.
Goddess of Seed, hear me.
They came quickly to her rescue.
Now when the Winter Solstice arrived it was time for Ixquic to give birth. She went into the woods alone as was the custom, and soon delivered two sons who were to become the Sacred Twins.
Although they were not revered as major deities themselves (more like superheroes or demi-gods), the twins played a vital role in the creation myths. Clever lads, and not above a bit of trickery, they defeated the forces of the Underworld as well as other enemies of the gods and were greatly favored by the deities.
The oldest son was named Hunaphu after his father. In some tellings of the myths, he was actually the reincarnation of his father who had come back as a human and would eventually, in Christ-like fashion, sacrifice his life to save mankind. When taken to the heavens, Hunaphu became a sun god.
The younger brother, Xbalanquẻ, was associated with the full moon and upon his death, signifying the end of matriarchal times and the emergency of the patriarchal, he was changed into a woman and became Ixbalanquẻ, the moon goddess.
Which brings us to the subject of:
Goddess of Chocolate As Religious Icon:
Though she seldom made a public appearance in the myths, Ixcacao, the Mayan Goddess of Chocolate, had been loved by the common folk as a compassionate goddess of abundance. Like the Greek goddess Demeter, she had walked among the people, understood their suffering and fear of starvation, while graciously giving them the knowledge and tools they needed to not only survive but to craft a life of abundance for themselves. (Not to mention generously sharing the exquisite taste of chocolate and the energy it gave them to keep on working!)
But that was soon to change!
At first it seemed like a golden age. Kings and dynasties appeared. A ruling class was born. Astronomy flourished, as did the arts; writing (glyphs) began to appear on the magnificent monuments, palaces and temples of the kings and many of the nobility. Large cities were established and populated with wealthy people.
Each king functioned as a high priest. Asserting his family relationship to the gods would enable him to promise to bring rain and prosperity to his kingdom which is why the peasants were willing to work to support the luxurious lifestyle of the king and his court.
Then the poor Goddess of Chocolate was whisked away from the fields to marry Ek Chuah, the God of Commerce, whether she wanted it or not. Soon her lovely cocoa beans were being turned into currency -- 40 beans would buy a donkey, 100 a reasonably good slave. The workers' taxes even had to be paid with the beans, leaving them few, if any, to enjoy for themselves.
The women and children could no longer enjoy chocolate anyway . . . it was now forbidden and declared the 'food of the gods', available only to the rulers and the warriors in their service.
It nearly broke Ixcacao's heart. She knew there was little she could do about it, but she summoned up her courage and made one demand.
So each year the rulers chose a young boy (in some places it was a young girl or even a chocolate colored dog) who would exchange the drab life of a peasant to be dressed in fine clothes and given servants and tutors, in short to live like a god.
But just for one year.
On the anniversary of his selection, as all the people bowed at his feet, he ascended the steps of the temple pyramid and gave his heart and his blood to the Sun.
The compassionate Goddess of Chocolate knew that, even though they were proud and brave, the Chosen Ones still trembled with a terrible fear as they started up the steps.
"I will go with them", she demanded "and comfort them with my presence in their final hours."
An so the Goddess of Chocolate climbed the steps beside them, offering them comforting goblets of cocoa along the way. Thus she became an important part of the sacred rites each year.
One year Ixcacao descended the pyramid steps, doubting that she could bear to ever do this again. But when she entered her dressing room, much to her surprise, there stood Huitaca, the Goddess of Love and Pleasure.
"Girlfriend, we've gotta' talk," Huitaca said.
"You always lived very close to the people. I've seen you welcoming them home from the fields each night, joining them as they gather around the campfire to roast the corn, telling stories, and enjoying your gifts.
But now they have to work so hard and so late into the night that they fall asleep straightaway and it's a deep and dreamless sleep that does not refresh.
Gone is the laughter that sparkled up to the stars as their told their stories around the campfire at night.
Gone are the flowers and animals they embroidered on their dresses. Gone are the bright colors that made their blankets so warm and so bold.
Gone are the music and dancing that reflected the beauty of their goddess into the nighttime sky.
And gone is the joy that made working worthwhile.
It is all gone and I can not bear the thought of it. I need your help. We've got to come up with a plan."
And what a clever plan it was. The Goddess of Chocolate would teach the kings' cooks how to ferment the wine and make it intoxicating. She 'let it slip' that it was a powerful aphrodisiac Not hard to convince them of that! No wonder modern guys like to gift chocolate truffles.* After all, chocolate contains the same chemical that gives you that wonderful feeling of falling in love. (*Shari's Berries chocolate bark and a mug of Starbuck's...Yum, how divine!)
Then came a time of unbridled gluttony and warfare between the various states. The Emperor Montezuma was even reported to drink 40-50 goblets a day, soaking up the aphrodisiacal stimulant of the cocoa to sustain his energy for his daily visits to his harem. The aristocrats began to regard labor of any sort as beneath their dignity and lived in their fine palaces, oblivious to the human suffering on which their lifestyles depended.
Kingdoms rose and kingdoms fell. Weakened by war, the Mayans were defeated by Aztecs (from the region of Mexico) who, fortunately, admired their religion and incorporated the goddess of chocolate into their own.
Just as Ixmucanẻ foresaw, no one with authority was paying attention to the rumblings of the earth. Too many people, too little land available for horticulture, and what land there was couldn't produce food because either half the workers were off to war or the land itself was being used a battlefield. The people were malnourished or starving.
But all was not lost. One of the old gods returned. Having once died in sacrifice to the Sun, he came back in human form and, much like the Spaniard's Christ, gave his life again so that the people would never need to sacrifice their lives to the Sun again. The practice of human sacrifice ended.
Now For The Happy Ending . . . The Goddess of Chocolate Returns
Well, it couldn't be helped that some things had turned out badly. But Huitaca, the Goddess of Love and Pleasure, was grateful for the role that the Goddess of Chocolate had played. And to show her great favor, she adorned her from head to foot with delicate white blossoms that fluttered in the gentle winds.
And so, covered in beauty, Ixcacao, the Goddess of Chocolate was allowed to return to her people -- this time as both the fertility goddess who stood watch over the fields of corn and saw that her people were fed, but also as a queen of love and pleasure.
No more work
No more work without love.
Musing on the Myths of the Goddess of Chocolate
Ixcacao's wisdom is a lovely counterpoint to the production-oriented hustle of our modern world and its frantic buying and selling for profit and its greed.
the myths of
:: Amaterasu ::
:: Demeter ::
:: Inanna ::
:: Nut ::
:: Ostara ::
:: Sedna ::~ ~
Which Goddess Are You?
Read about the
The Goddess of Chocolate reminds us that a luxurious world unfolds before your eyes if only you will take a moment to still your "busy-ness" and rejoice in those things which give you pleasure.