Mayan Mythology - An Overview

by Oceansnsunsets

Learning about the Maya Culture can be fascinating. Mythology was a huge part of life for the Maya, and this article touches on some key points.

Chacmool - From Chicen Itza
Chacmool - From Chicen Itza
Wikimedia - Public Domain

The People of Mesoamerica and their Views on Mythology

A General Overview

Over the last few years, I have taken a great interest in the Mayan people and their culture.  Their history is a rather interesting one.  I have noticed an increase in the interest of many people around the world as well.  Surely this is due at least in part to the ideas surrounding the Mayan Calender and the possible end of the world stories people are hearing.

The Mayan people were a people steeped in a lot of beliefs and views that are different than our own.  However, they were also a people far beyond their time in many ways.  They left behind so many amazing clues that we are lucky to have, so we can know about this people group.

The People of Mesoamerica and their Relationship with the Natural World

They Mayan people seemed to have a rather intense view and relationship with the world around them.  They believed in many gods and goddesses.  These gods were believed to take natural form, or live in nature.  They were thought to be sustained in the nature that was around them.  This is not unlike many ancient people groups that have been studied over the course of history.  Most cultures at one point or another seem to know there is more to life than meets the eye initially.  They seem to know that whatever the cause of life is, is completely out of our hands and control.  Mankind seems to want to embrace that power and we see many beliefs come about. 

They took these views to sometimes view their world as having a dangerous, sacred power.  They thought this power demanded ritual worship in different ways.  The power they sensed was thought to be able to take form in humans, animals or symbolic form as need or desire directed them.

Over their own history, these deities crossed many generations over into the next.  Their sacred narratives seemed to pass from one culture to the next.  Their stories explained what was going on in a grander sense and it helped them to understand their world.  Their stories included how gods and goddesses may have once walked the Earth and interacted with it. 

It is interesting to note that these stories were their history.  The accounts included tales of how creation must have happened, how the earth and sky came to be.  They included ideas on fertility and harvesting crops.  Of course they continued on with ideas of what might occur in the afterlife. 

What has been interesting for historians to uncover, is how these tales are interwoven with the actual facts we know about life and the Mesoamericans, and also about their past achievements, as wel as being defeated by the Spanish Conquistadors.

The image of Chacmool, shows an example of the Mayan culture's beliefs.  They thought blood offerings were desired by the gods.  In this case, a sacrificed human heart was placed the the receptacle and given to the gods, in some cultures.  At Chichen Itza, there is a Temple of the Warriors there.  They have columns that are carved in the form of sacred serpents, along with a statue of Chacmool.

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Do You Enjoy the Study of the Mayan Culture?

A great link to more information about Chichen Itza

Updated: 01/15/2012, Oceansnsunsets
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