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Home  |  World Mythologies   |  South American Mythology  |  Mayan Mythology

Mayan Mythology

Mayan Mythology was the belief system of the people who currently inhabit the Yucatán Peninsula and all of the territory now incorporated into the modern countries of Guatemala and Belize, as well as the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador. They drew inspiration for their mythology and religion from the Olmec who were the erstwhile inhabitants of the land.

In Mayan mythology, the gods and heroes had many different names and appearances, stories occurred in varying forms, and scenes and figures changed and shifted with confusing rapidity. Beneath this seeming confusion, though, lay a sense that the universe was an orderly, structured place and that proper behaviour toward the gods played an important role in maintaining its harmony and balance. The Maya shared in a common Mesoamerican culture. The peoples of the region believed in the same gods and myths, built temples in the form of pyramids, practiced divinationand had an interest in astronomy.

Similar to Indian mythology, the Mayan pantheon had over 250 Gods, deities and mortals. They governed every aspect of the Mayan life including weather, harvest, mating rituals, child birth and death. Every region within the Mayan empire had their own set of favourite Gods and this was considered to be an acceptable practice as long as the Gods were within the pantheon.

The much talked about doomsday calendar which predicted the end of the world was also a Mayan creation. There was a 365 day calendar which was based on the annual cycle of the sun along with a 260 day sacred calendar which was more in line with the belief system and faith of the Mayan people. These two calendars meshed in a cycle known as the Calendar Round, which repeated every 52 years. The Maya used the calendar both for measuring worldly time and for sacred purposes. In this combination, each day of the calendar came under the influence of a different God which influenced their lives like modern day astrology or horoscopes.

The Maya used a writing system based on symbols called glyphs that represented individual syllables and used this to record their mythology and traditions. Although the Spanish destroyed most Mayan documents, a few codices  survived. This told us that body mutilation to appear similar in appearance to the Gods in Mayan mythology was a common practice.

Instead of adapting, their leaders clung to power and strove instead to be the last ones to starve to death. The Mayan civilization in South America did the same, and I expect our own civilization will do likewise

Daniel Suarez

Mayan Mythical Characters

Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.