Religion Illustration

Maya Empire for Kids

Mythbuster: True or False: The Maya had many gods and goddesses. Answer: False

"The ancient Maya only had around a dozen or so gods and goddesses. The misunderstanding stems from seeing many drawings of gods in Maya art and thinking they are all different, when it is really just one god in different disguises. In addition, the names of gods and goddesses changed through time, so two or three different names can be given to a deity depending on the time period." Ancient Maya Gods and Goddesses  Pawahtuun, for example, was a god who stood at the four corners of the world - north, south, east, and west - he is seen in four different forms, but he is just one god no mater what he is wearing or where he is standing.

The Maya believed their gods could help or hurt them. They worshiped their gods every day. Religion was at the heart of everything they did.

To the Maya, gods lived everywhere, but especially in the heavens. The Maya believed in a heaven, an earth, and an underworld.

The Skies, Heaven: Heaven was the home of the gods. A piece of the heaven was reserved for the Maya afterlife. They believed their ancestors lived in this little piece of heaven, and kept a watchful eye on their relatives still alive on earth. The poor buried their dead under the floor of their house, to make it easier for their ancestors to know what was going on. Nobles were buried in tombs, but they too believed that their ancestors watched over them.

On Land, Earth: Earth was for the living.

Place of Awe, the Underworld: The Maya also believed in an underworld. This was the Place of Awe. The Maya underworld was not a good place. It was a place where demons lived. If the Maya people did not worship in the right way, the demons would be released and able to leave the underworld and attack the Maya people. This was a huge fear. The Maya held many religious ceremonies to make sure the demons and other evil creatures who lived in the underworld stayed in the underworld. Priests wore masks and costumes at these religious ceremonies to scare the demons. They wanted to appear stronger and more fierce than the demons, so the demons would stay away.

No women in the Maya world ever looked in a mirror. It was too dangerous. The Maya believed that creatures from the underworld could reach through a mirror and yank you into the Place of Awe. Men would look into a mirror as an act of courage.

Ancient Maya Gods and Goddesses

Maya Folktales & Maya Myths

Maya Sacrifice

Animals and Feathers

Mayas for Kids