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Ceremonial cacao | Keith wilson

Keith Wilson, The Chocolate Shaman's Legacy

By Rick Wessels, CEO, Keith's Cacao

San Marcos La Laguna is this amazing little town on the shores of Lake Atitlan. It is also the home to the company I am so grateful to be a part of, Keith’s Cacao. In the years since I joined Keith’s Cacao, I have had the opportunity to see this lovely town change and grow.

San Marcos has a large population of ex-pats from around the world who live in harmony with the local indigenous community. Together they have built a town full of many different types of spiritual pursuits, training in Meditation, Yoga, and the fascination with Maya teachings and traditions.

Lake Atitlan itself is a giant caldera lake formed after what must have been an epic volcanic eruption! It is remarkably beautiful. When I arrived for the first time in 2016, I was surprised by the lack of Cacao trees. After all, this is where Keith and his amazing team had been making his Cacao for years! 

The mystery was easily laid to rest. Keith explained to me that the lake is located at an elevation where Cacao cannot thrive and that the beans selected to make Keith’s Cacao are brought to our workshop, a journey hours away.  

The absence of Cacao trees was mirrored by the absence of a “cacao culture” in San Marcos. At the time, even the local indigenous Maya decedents only used Cacao in representative forms, exchanging a small number of beans at weddings or tossing them into ritual fires. 

I am so happy to have experienced this great town before the "Cacao explosion." It makes it easy to see what an impact Keith has had on this town and the surrounding communities. In 2016, attending a Cacao Ceremony on Keith's Porch was one of the "must-do events" in town and, for sure, the only place to experience Cacao. 

Though Keith himself had not offered routine, in-person Cacao Ceremonies since the 2020 pandemic, Cacao ceremonies are now everywhere in San Marcos. They are offered in various settings, paired with multiple other modalities: Cacao and Yoga, Cacao and Ecstatic Dance, Cacao and Sound Healing; Cacao and you name it, San Marcos has it. Keith's influence has also inspired many competitors – all of whom learned of this world, and most were trained by Keith himself. 

Keith has created jobs, prosperity, and joy for a team of over 30 amazing team members - and via his influence - no doubt dozens more. Today, there are more than 600 Keith's Cacao Practitioners around the globe. Keith's Cacao is shipped out of warehouses from the US, Canada, Europe, the UK, and Australia to almost everywhere in the world. It is all an amazing testament to the impact you can have on your community – and the world – by following your heart and doing that big, often scary, gigantic something you love. 

Indigenous myth tells us whenever the balance between humans and nature becomes threatened, cacao comes from the rainforest to open people’s hearts and return the planet to a state of harmony - Keith, the Chocolate Shaman

Twenty years ago, heeding the call of the Cacao Spirit, Keith Wilson embarked on a mission to fulfill a prophecy. Joining him was an honor and a blessing. We hope you will join us too as we carry on this incredible legacy.

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