Religion Illustration

Maya Empire for Kids

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

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

Earth was for the living.

Heaven was the home of the gods. A piece of the heavens was reserved for the Maya afterlife. They believed their ancestors lived in this little piece of heaven, but kept a watchful eye on their relatives still alive on earth. The poor buried their dead under the floor of the 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.

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.

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