The Women who Bless Cacao: Kaqchikel Women’s Collective Intro

The Women who Bless Cacao: Kaqchikel Women’s Collective Intro

If you’ve been to our shop in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala, you might have met some of our collaborators already: the women who bless the Cacao. The leaders of the collective pass by the shop to collect seeds and process them at their homes to then bring back boxes full of pure “ceremonial grade”1 Cacao blocks. Cacao blessing is important part of our routine.

Cacao, which functions as a heart opener2, is processed by the women who know it as a medicine both to relax and at the same time stimulate the body. ‘Whilst in labor, women are encouraged to drink Cacao”, says Maria, a mother and leader of one of the seven collectives. She tells me this while leading the Cacao Immersion* on 22 July 2022 in her house at barrio 3, San Marcos, sharing her experience of being in labor at her home and having the midwife prepare her Cacao [hot chocolate3].  

We are deeply grateful for these women of the Kaqchikel people of Guatemala, who invite us to their home to tell us how their relationship with cacao has evolved. 

Cacao Blessing by Kaqchikel Women’s Collective

Maria, how does working with Cacao influence your life?“

“First, when I started working with Cacao, I was surprised to see how it works. I saw the process and I liked it. I wanted to learn. I liked the process of roasting, peeling and grinding it. So, I decided I’ll stick with this work, and I got accustomed to working with Cacao. 

“There is my Cacao,” I say when the blocks are done. I look at it and I’m happy with my Cacao. It makes me happy when the Cacao is roasted and the women come over to pick it up. We smile together [There is happiness in the interaction]. They take the Cacao with them, peeling it and when they bring it they help me out in the house with the Cacao.

“And so it is that I started working with Cacao. I like working more with Cacao. The first Quintal [80lbs] was difficult for me to produce, but it was fun. Many people ask me about starting to work with Cacao – they are interested because they see that it is good work. But not everyone can work with Cacao. I also sometimes make mistakes and am grateful that I have this work, I’m happy with Cacao, it is in my memory [I want to work more with Cacao].“

Extract „Transcription from Interview with Maria 1st of July 2022, translation from Spanish to English“

We collaborate with Kaqchikel women who were inspired to learn about the processing of Cacao and become active participants in the economic development of their community. To understand the importance of their participation and reveal an underlying problematic structure of relating, we’ll explore through the psychoanalytic framework, how women are challenged with a lack of agency. 

In all cultures there has been a tendency to view women more as objects, and not subjects with an active inner life4. If we look at how the archetype of the mother is framed in a society, we can observe the foundation for this construct of relating. 

“The view of mother as object resounds throughout our culture. In general psychoanalytic discourse, the child relates to the mother as an object of his drives, and correspondingly devalues her independent subjectivity.[…]  Only a mother who feels entitled to be a person in her own right can ever be seen as such by her child, […] (Bonds of love – Psychoanalysis, feminism, and the problem of domination, p.78, p.82 )

A child, representing the next generation of a community, who recognizes the mother as a subject with her own will, can create a respectful relationship based on mutuality. This primal mother-child relationship sets the stage for relating with the “feminine”.  Supporting women to ‘be a person in her own right’ where her agency is recognized can set the conditions for a community to value women’s voices. 

“How do you think women and men should/could become more equal?”

“We all have rights and deserve dignity. Women have rights, but men have more authority. Women are calmer than men and have more patience. When something happens, we first evaluate. Men directly put in their opinion and authority, demanding to do it their way and to respect them.

[…] “

“How can women be supported in achieving their dreams?”

“Give them work, give them more ideas and motivate them [with their lives]. Checking in with them and supporting them with their families and children. So that they can be happy, feel valued and respected.

Give them a job so they can progress in their lives. Motivate them to continue working. Because sometimes women are shy and are embarrassed to be working. Conflicted with what other people might think. Working doesn’t bring anything bad I’d say. It brings sustainability for the home.”

Extract „Transcription from Interview with Maria 1st of July 2022, translation from Spanish to English“

We as Cacao Source are striving towards creating sustainable support for the women’s collectives in San Marcos La Laguna, encouraging the sovereignty of mothers, grandmothers, daughters and sisters alike. It is truly inspiring seeing these women empowering themselves to be leaders in a community that has been systemically oppressed for centuries5.

We are currently working on diversifying our offerings so that women have more opportunities to participate in the international marketplace. We are developing the “give-back package” which will be launched mid-November, and are supporting Cacao Immersion* to have the women lead an informative event with 4-15 people. 

This blog post is the introduction to a series of posts devoted to sharing about each leader of the women’s collective. This is to retell their stories – so you can have insight into their loving relationship with Cacao and their hardships as Kaqchikel women.

How can you support? 


  1. Cacao Immersion; every month CacaoSource supports the leaders of the women’s collective to organize an event where they invite you to their home to share their experience with processing Cacao. A nourishing lunch is provided by them and you’ll get to know their personal story of being a Kaqchikel woman. Every month another collective takes to lead. 
  2. Give Back to the Source – we work with women opportunities across Guatemala.


five key aspects; genetics of the cacao, how it is grown, how it is processed, how it is prepared and the setting of consumption


“Theobromine, the main active compound, is a vasodilator that works especially on the heart center. This becomes a gentle medicine for heart opening. Anandamide, also known as the “bliss molecule”, creates a sense of well-being. Phenylethylamine, also known as the “cuddle molecule”, creates a deeper sense of love and connection. This could be with other people, something that you’re doing, or simply with the Divine.“ 

3 In the interview, she mentions ‘hot chocolate’ and not Cacao because in the Kaqchikel community pure Cacao paste hasn’t been available. Either there is the industrial produced Chocolate in the “tiendas” (little shop) or in the local markets you find Cacao paste that has already sweetener in it, which is usually White Sugar and sometimes Panela (pure cane sugar).

4 In this blogpost, the focus is on Kaqchikel women and their experience. We do not intend that men  are reduced in their experience of living very marginalised and difficult live.. Whilst acknowledged, it won’t be further reported until we have interviews with Kaqchikel men of the community. 

5“A decades-old [other research shows five centuries, since the colonization] historical reality, the Mayan population – 80 percent of the country’s makeup – has endured harsh oppression. It is a rarity within the employment sector for the indigenous person to be paid the equal wage of the mestizos, a person of mixed ancestry. When interviewed, more than half of business owners admitted that despite indigenous workers and mestizo workers performing the same labor, they were not paid equal wages.” 

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