Mayan Spirituality

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Mayan Spirituality

Post  Admin on 11/11/2008, 7:42 am

Mayan Spirituality Rae Schwarz BellaOnline's Pagan Editor

The Mayan culture was one of the most sophisticated during it’s time. Architecture, art and agriculture were well-developed. The Maya also had a written language which supported the development of their calendar and religious system. One of the main components of their spiritual beliefs was that the world existed in cycles of creation and destruction. The latest cycle is supposed to end sometime in 2011 or 2012, so now seems a good time to take a look at these ancient beliefs.

Mayan mythology holds that when the Mayan gods first made man, he was given life as long as the gods and he had their same strengths. In many cultures, this is the point where the children overthrow the parent gods and take control. However, the Mayan gods killed these first creations and made humans in their present form.

The Mayans had a highly developed agricultural system and their spiritual practices were tied to seasons of planting and harvest, much like many found in Europe. The Maize God, a corn deity, was paramount as was Chac, the Rain God. The Maize God was believed to have an elongated skull shape, much like an ear of corn. The upper castes practiced body modification, binding the skulls of newborn Mayan babies so that the head would reshape to resemble this important god. Chac sometimes takes on four different aspects to match the four directions: Red Chac of the South; White Chac of the North; Black Chac of the West and Yellow Chac of the East.

Animal deities were also prevalent in Mayan religion, with many gods being depicted as part human and part animal. Chac, the Rain God, had a crocodile head and the ears of a deer. The Jaguar Sun God brought warmth and life as he moved through the sky, but became a fierce warrior when he descended to the Underworld for the night. This correlates to the jaguar’s predominantly nighttime hunting habits. Itzam-Yeh, the Celestial Bird, shared characteristics with the macaw and was thought to be associated with the four corners of the world.

Other significant deities were:

Akhushtal - Goddess of Childbirth

Ixchel - Patron goddess of weavers and pregnant women. This Earth and Moon goddess is also called Lady Rainbow.

Ixtab - Goddess of Suicide or Hangings. The Mayans believed if you died by one of those ways, this goddess would receive your soul in the afterlife.

Kinich Ahau - Sun God. Sometimes took the form of a macaw. Also God of Poetry and Music.

Kukulcan - God of Law, Agriculture, Fishing and Medicine. This god was a bird-snake, a god form often found in Mesoamerica.

Yaxche - This was the name for the Tree of Heaven. Good souls would celebrate here in the afterlife.

Yum Kaax - God of Agriculture, Nature and Hunting.


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