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Food Mythology

Chocolate and The Goddess

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 Chocolate is one of the most popular and loved the flavor in the world. Used in all forms in many delicacies such as desserts, brownies, cakes, eaten as bars, flavoring agents, beverage and many more. Chocolate is one of the largest selling flavors. “Kuch Meetha Hojaye” as Cadbury’s Tagline says, Chocolate today has replaced traditional sweet used in festivals, given as gifts and become part of the day to day lives.

Chocolate is long known to have a reputation of an aphrodisiac since the beginning of civilization. Chocolate is known to contain phenylethylamine (PEA), which stimulates the same hormone your body releases during sex. It also sparks dopamine production in the brain, giving a satisfying and pleasurable feeling when eaten. That’s probably why the internet generates numerous references to the aphrodisiac power of chocolate or ‘women’s preference for chocolate over sex’.

The aphrodisiac use and popularity of chocolate go to the oldest civilization in the Mesoamerican region. Mayans were known to consume liquor made of chocolate known as ‘xocolatl’ since early as 1750 BCE. Cocoa beans were so dear to the Mayans that they used this as a currency at one point of time. The association of a goddess to this particular food explains the role chocolate played in the civilization.

‘Ixcacao’ a Mayan goddess of chocolate was one of the ancient fertility goddesses. The word ‘coco’ originated from her name ‘cacao’ she was also revered as the goddess of abundance and protections. It was believed that it is because of this goddess that Mayan’s would never suffer from hunger. Ixcacao also played a very important role in teaching agriculture, protecting the harvest and also the creation of mankind.

The Legend of Chocolate Goddess

The story begins with Grandmother Goddess Ixmucane being worried about upbringing her grandchildren, as her sons were already killed while on the adventure to the netherworld. Ixmucane was the last soothsayer she knew that once when she gets old, her grandsons would be in despair. One day while she was thinking about her grandsons she saw a pregnant woman standing before her.

The young woman approached the old goddess and told her that she was carrying her son’s children who had been killed. She was the daughter of the king of the netherworld who was cast out. She requested grandmother goddess to allow her to live with her and give a home to her progeny.

Hearing this Ixmucane was startled. The young woman further said that she was Ixquic or ‘Blood Moon’. She witnessed her son Hunahpu getting decapitated by the soldiers under the calabash bush. His bloody head continued to talk to Ixquic after he died. Hunahpu had spat upon her hand and it was this that caused Ixquic to conceive the twins. Ixcumane not believing the story set forth a test to the young woman. Ixcumane told the young woman to go to the field with a large net and not come back until the net was filled with food. The Ixquic went to the forest with the net and found only one cob of corn growing. She was helpless and in despair started to pray.

Ixcenil, Goddess of Seed, hear me

Ixtoq, Goddess of Rain, help me

Ixcacao, Goddess of Chocolate, see my tears

and come to my aid”

Hearing her prayers the goddesses came to her rescue. Ixcenil the god of the seed gave her seeds, Ixcacao the goddess of chocolate taught her to plant and harvest crops also protected the plants until they were ripe. Goddess of rain Ixtoq helped nurture the crops. With assistance by the goddesses, Ixquic returned home with the net filled with food, and the grandmother goddess was extremely joyed and she welcomed her to the family.

The young woman in winter solstice gave birth to sacred twins the oldest son was named Hunaphu after his father and was believed to sacrifice his life for mankind and became sun god.  The younger brother Xbalanque resembled the moon and was transformed into a woman, during the emergence of patriarchal times and became the moon goddess.

In the Ancient Mayan times both gods and humans were required to sacrifice their lives so

that the world can be protected. It was believed that Gods when created the world they failed four times and then when that decided to sacrifice their lives that could create the sun. They believed that if the sun stopped moving through the sky then the world would be destroyed and the only way to keep the sun moving was through quenching its thirst with the blood of humans or gods. This was carried out each year on top of the Temple. The young ones would die in the name of the ritual. Seeing this Goddess of Chocolate Ixcacao felt very disturbed and compassionate and decided to do something about it. She partnered with Huitaca the goddess of love and pleasure so that this ritual could be stopped. Ixcacao and Huitaca came up with a plan to stop the cruelty.

The Goddess of Chocolate taught the kings how to make the chocolate liquor from chocolate. As chocolate being an aphrodisiac food gives a similar feeling of falling in love. This was probably the first use of chocolate as an aphrodisiac food. The kings became dependent on this liquor and its Aphrodisiac energy to rule and win wars. The kingdoms fell and were taken over by enemies.

The land became a place for war and there was great distress among people. People were malnourished, starving and the land was almost dying out. It was then Huangpu as predicted sacrificed himself once again to the sun for the so that after him people would never need to sacrifice their lives to the sun again. Then Ixcacao, the goddess of chocolate came again to the rescue as a fertility goddess and also the protector of the harvest.

The chocolate played a very important role during Mayan times and was one of the rich foods of those times. Therefore it was directly associated with the food of the gods. As the society was matriarchal, the goddess of fertility and protector of the harvest was made the goddess of chocolate. Also when the society turned towards patriarchal they forced the goddess of chocolate to marry Ek Chuah, their god of commerce, this led to chocolate becoming a prized commodity and a currency for trade. Further, this food became the food of wealthy and powerful and poor people were banished from eating chocolate.

Seeing the scenario of society change chocolate became the cause of the downfall of the monarchy. Common citizens needed a reform which then led to conquering by the Aztecs.  Looking at the priced commodity of coco Aztecs adopted the goddess into their own. It was when one of the Mayan lastly sacrificed himself to stop human sacrifices further the society became stable. This indicates that either all Mayan’s got converted and surrendered to Aztecs or they were killed by new conquerors.

Whatever be the history we have delicious chocolate and various cuisines associated with it, thanks to the Mayan’s to have discovered this.

3 COMMENTS

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