Ceremonial Cacao

Ceremonial Cacao

What is ceremonial cacao? To tell you the truth we really don’t know. A lot of the pieces are missing from the puzzle. We only have the first hand accounts and records of the Spanish explorers and missionaries who first encountered the indigenous tribes/cultures of the Americas. Cacao was widely used throughout central and south America for thousands of years prior to the arrival of the Spanish. Historians and anthropologists think cacao was first consumed as a fermented alcoholic beverage using the pulp from the cacao pod. Over time through trial and error the seeds/beans were elevated to a sacrilegious status. Some research suggests cacao was at first only reserved for high priests. Priests and priestesses watched the planets, practiced divination, performed rituals, and more. The act of consuming cacao was incorporated into all facets of society. The most interesting is the ritualistic use of cacao and cinnebar (a toxtic mixture of mercruty and sulfur). Archaeological evidence points to an interesting use of cacao and cinnabar by mesoamericans.* Cinnabar was ingested with cacao prior to death as a symbolic ritual. Cinnebar when ingested in the human body will turn the bones from white to red. Blood was very symbolic in the culture.

 

Investigating Red-Colored Bones in Mesoamerica