There are several aspects of nature, astronomy and rituals
that were practiced by the Mayan religion. Its beliefs are formed
on the notion that almost everything in the world contains. K’uh and k’uhul, (spirituality
of all inanimate and animate things).
The universe of the
ancient Maya was composed of Earth (the visible domain of the Maya
people), the sky above (the invisible realm of celestial deities),
and Xibalba the watery underworld below (the invisible realm of the
underworld deities) where caves were entranceways.
Maya followed a number
of deities, the most central of which was Itzamnaaj who was the lord over the
most fundamental opposing forces in the universe — life and death, day and
night, sky and earth as lord of the celestial realm Itzamnaaj was the Milky Way
and he was depicted as a serpent or two-headed reptile. Other Maya gods include
the sun god K’inich Ajaw, the rain and storm god Chaak , the lightning deity
K’awiil the list goes upto 165 gods.
Mayans built two types of pyramids one type was meant to be climbed which were used during human sacrifices since
believes in human sacrifice because they belief that each person has a
“life force,” and draining a person’s blood in a temple could provide
some of this life force to a god thus please the gods. The other type was not to be
climbed because they were sacred, often built with dangerous steps which a
priest would use to get closer to the Gods.
Maya Creation Myth
Mayan religion has
different groups who believe in a variety of creation myths. The most important
concept about their belief is that time and the creation of humans are thought
to be cyclical.
to the Popul Vuh myth one Ahuapu walking past the mouth of a cave and the gods
of the underworld invited him to play a ball. He descends into the darkness and
the gods immediately behead him thus hang his severed head in a Calabash tree.
Shortly thereafter, the
daughter of one of the gods walks by and speaks to the hanging head which spits
into her hand then naturally becomes pregnant thus banished from the
underworld. She gives birth to twin boys knows as the Hero Twins.
The twins decide to go
in search of their father after finding out about their origin. They locate the
mouth of the cave (Xibalba) and challenge the gods to a ball game and won. Then
played tricks -one brother kills the other and brings him back to life followed
by the second brother repeating the performance, to convince the gods.
One god is more
convinced and decides to participate in their next game, slay game. The twins
took the opportunity to resurrect their father by slaying the god and
resurrecting their father instead of the go. They head for the surface and rise
into the sky to become the Sun and Moon. The father, following them, sees corn
along the trail, and takes an ear thus become a plant and immerge from the cave
as the god of maize thus greeted by the first sunrise of the Maya world.
Many Epochs Of The Maya
According to Maya religion there were three
creations, one succeeding another with the destruction of the previous. The
gods destroyed the different versions of “humans” because they either would not
worship their creators -which was a crucial consideration for the gods, or could
not afford to have unworthy creation which were incapable of providing
The variations of the three creations are.
In the first creation people were made of mud thus
were not productive since they were not able to think in the capacity that modern-day
humans. Pre-classic people could not move due to their creation by use of mud.
They were not mortal thus could have stayed with difficulties. The creation was
not upto the god’s satisfaction thus destroyed them with water.
Built from Wood (Classic)
The gods made men from wood and women from reeds for
the men. The immortal people could function as humans but had no souls thus did
not honor the gods. When they died, they only remained dead for three days and
would raise from the dead this scared the gods thus were forced to destroy them.
Their destruction was done with boiling hot water. The few who may have survived
are thought to have become the monkeys.
Built from Maize (Postclassic)
The third creation was successful but the creatures
were too wise hence the lords almost destroyed them but decided to cloud their
minds and eyes to lessen their wise. The creation saw the birth of modern-day
humans (four men and women) who were made of white and yellow maize dough and
the blood of the gods.
The Maya participated
in various religious rituals which included bloodletting, human sacrifice and others
Bloodletting is spilling
of blood as a practice of sacrifice to give life to humanity. The practice of
bloodletting marked significant dates in the Maya world whereby it often served
to commemorate and sanctify important events such as births, ascents to the
throne, and anniversaries. In some cases bloodletting was performed in order to
communicate with ancestors.
important in keeping the gods satisfied and were also vital in ensuring a
military victory. The sacrifice was used to commemorate life-altering event
such as when a king or queen would ascend to the throne. If a political
prisoner had been captured, these prisoners would be royals or elites of an
enemy state he will automatically become the sacrifice.
These sacrifices were
performed in three methods decapitation, removing the heart from the living
person and throw a living person into a natural well, as an offering to the
Other Offerings & Rituals
Not all Maya offerings
were so bloody and gruesome. There were offerings such as -precious items like
jade, gold, masks, shells, carved human bone, and ceremonial or sacred tools.
Marriage was a religious
ritual where the priest could conduct the event, he would burn incense to bring
fortuitous marriage and then a feast or other type of celebration would ensue
if the marriage was not deemed successful by either husband or wife the couple
Dance was a ritual
conducted to please the god where dancers wore their custom made attires that
made them look like the gods -to impress the gods.
About Mayan Religion
The Mayan religion was founded in Mesoamerica
(Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize) in the year 250 AD, which officially marked
the beginning of Mayan civilization. Their main god is Itzamná; Kukulcán
(Quetzalcóatl); Bolon Tzacab; Chac.
They practiced Astronomy,
divination, human sacrifice, elaborate burial for royalty, and worshiped in
The Maya believed in different levels of these
realms, they understood supernatural levels as the upper world, middle world,
and underworld with the Ceiba tree growing through all of the realms. The Ceiba
tree is vital to understanding the importance of the cardinal directions in the
Maya gods were linked to the cardinal directions. According
to them the most meaningful cardinal direction is the east. East is where the
sun rises and it is associated with birth they also belief that the sun is born
daily from the east.
Mayan homes were designed to reflect the cardinal
directions and the Ceiba tree. The Maya even built hearths at the center of
their homes in order to represent the Ceiba-tree center of the cardinal
directions to honor their belief.
The Maya had a calendar whose full knowledge was
known by the ruler only thus guarded it as a source of power. They recorded the
calendar with the help of different cycles of time, based on the movement of
the Sun, Moon and the Planet.
The Mayan religion believed that most people’s souls
were meant to spend their afterlives in the underworld -filled with evil gods,
represented as jaguars, a symbol in their King’s Helmet. According to them only
those who died at childbirth or were sacrificed would have escaped the