Belief and Traditions

The Mayans religion involved several aspects of nature, astronomy and rituals. Most Gods represented a form in nature, for example, Sun God, Kinih Ahous, or Maize God, Yum Kaax. The Mayans were known for their calendars and celestial buildings. These pyramid like temples were used during their religious rituals.

In order for the Mayans to gain favor with their Gods they used these pyramids to perform human sacrifices. Some temples were sacred and no one could climb nor touch them, they had steep steps and false doors. When these pyramids were being used, a priest would use the dangerous steps and get closer to the Gods. Each pyramids usually had two or four staircases, often including a platform between steps near the middle. This platform was likely used during the priest-kings rituals as well.

The Mayan religion was Polytheist, and they worshiped more than 165 Gods. The Gods were human-like. Gods would do other human like activity such as creating, planting and harvesting maize, performing divination, conducting business, fighting wars, forming alliances and intermarrying. This behavior led to the Gods having interrelated jobs within their hierarchy.

The Mayan religion believed that most peoples souls’ were vanquished to spend their afterlives in the underworld. Even the rulers souls’ ended up there. Only those who died at childbirth or were sacrificed would have escaped the underworld. Sacrifice was conducted using blood-letting performed by the community, but run by the priest. The underworld is filled with with evil Gods, represented as jaguars, the symbol of the night. The jaguar was also shown on the Kings helmets.

The Mayans believed that every person had an animal companion who shared their soul. They were called, “Way’ ob”. The Mayan religion believed that one could transform into their animal companion. Every King had a jaguar as their animal companion spirit, and were often depicted with jaguar in Mayan art. Most Mayans had one animal companion, but some every powerful Mayan priests could have more than one.

Mayan Art