Cocoa Drying Ecuador. Photo by Chris Kilham

Cocoa and The Creation

Common Name


Botanical Name

Theobroma Cocao


Theobroma Cocao
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And so it came to pass that cacao was one of the essential materials used by the god of all gods to create human beings. And as is only right for a plant of such importance to our very being, cacao was held in the utmost esteem from that day onward.

In the Mayan culture, cocoa was so highly regarded that the Maya developed a creation myth concerning human beings involving cocoa. Any time a plant is given divine status in a culture, it means that the plant is central to that culture. For the Maya, cocoa was an integral part of the fabric of their lives. They cultivated cocoa, they used cocoa beans as currency, they developed numerous preparations of cocoa, and they topped it all off with a creation myth concerning the central Mayan god, known as Heart Of Sky.

It is not easy being the Creator. There is a huge amount of work to do, and no reliable help. If you want to get anything useful done, you have to do it all yourself. Sometimes, the work must be done over and over again, until the results are correct. Thus it was no easy matter when the creator, Heart of Sky, decided to make human beings. Many simplistic books tell the tale as though this occurred overnight. But don’t you believe it. A piece of work as magnificent as creating a human being takes time and energy, and repetition. In the case of Heart of Sky, it took several attempts before it all worked out.

Heart Of Sky determined that he wanted to make a being that would worship him, a being with speech and thought, a truly magnificent and adoring creature. For at that time there was sky and sea, but nobody to praise his glory and greatness. “I wonder what materials I should use to make this creature” he wondered as only the creator can wonder. It’s no easy job embarking on such a project! But Heart Of Sky figured that if he was going to make a being who would praise him, that being would need to be made of solid material. So he spoke the word “earth,” and the earth arose. Gods can perform some pretty wonderful feats, and the creation of the earth was an especially wonderful feat indeed. And yes, he actually did do that in a very short amount of time, just like the books say.

Heartened by his magnificent progress, Heart of Sky spoke “mountains,” and great mountains arose. He spoke “trees,” and vast forests appeared. Indeed, his work was moving along at quite a brisk pace. So then Heart Of Sky imagined the various creatures of the forest and the sea, and quite quickly, the entire world was teeming with birds and fish and deer and jaguars and snakes and insects and all manner of living things that swam, crawled, slithered, walked and flew. As a result of these successes, he felt pretty good about himself, Heart Of Sky did, and who could blame him? He didn’t gloat, as that is decidedly un-godly. But he was quite satisfied.

Heart Of Sky was on a roll, and so he commanded the various creatures to praise him. But they only squawked, hooted, chirped, growled, barked and made other noises. Basically there was no real praising going on, even after all that work. This was clearly not the kind of glad, glorious, and intelligent adoration the creator had in mind. He really did expect generous and heartfelt outpourings of praise, not just some mooing and cat-calls. And so Heart Of Sky fashioned a being out of mud, with arms and legs and a head. But the creature crumbled and fell apart, as any modestly talented potter could have predicted. Not only didn’t the creature praise him, the creature didn’t even hold together. “Phooey,” said Heart Of Sky loudly, in the booming way that only the creator can say phooey.

So then Heart Of Sky had a bright idea. He fashioned a being out of wood. “This will hold together,” he said to himself in a loud, godly voice. And the being held together alright, but it was as dumb as a stump. It neither moved nor spoke, and it certainly did not praise at all. “Darn,” he fussed. This nonsense went on for quite some time. Heart Of Sky fashioned humans out of stone. Boy, was that a mistake. They stayed together, and they were heavier than wood. But they did nothing, and they certainly didn’t utter even one faint murmur of praise.

So unlike the books report, it took one whole heck of a lot longer than a day or a week to make humans. But at one point, Heart Of Sky had a truly brilliant idea, the kind of breakthrough idea that only the creator can conceive. He selected from nature water and earth and wood and maize and cacao and numerous fruits large and small, and he fashioned yet another being. And this time, glory be on high, it worked. “Eureeka!” exclaimed Heart Of Sky, in the kind of loud, intimidating and thunderous voice that only the creator can possess. Not only did the creature stay together, but it grew and thrived. And best of all, when Heart Of Sky commanded the creature to praise him, it did.

And so it came to pass that cacao was one of the essential materials used by the god of all gods to create human beings. And as is only right for a plant of such importance to our very being, cacao was held in the utmost esteem from that day onward.

“Chocolate is a divine, celestial drink, the sweat of the stars, the vital seed, divine nectar, the drink of the gods, panacea and universal medicine.” – Geronimo Piperni