Maya Religion, Past and Present

Maya religion within the culture of modern day Mexico is predominantly formed by a combination of ancient Mayan beliefs alongside the more recent introduction of the Roman Catholic faith.

The emergence and rise of the early Mayan population can be traced back to the pre-classic period. However the existence of cultural traditions are still very much evident today.

Christianity and Catholic beliefs became initially influential within Mayan culture, when Hernan Cortez led a Spanish expedition to Mexico in the 16th century.

The belief in a variety of Gods of nature was central in the early traditions of Maya Religion. The leaders in the early community formations were considered to be close to the Gods and links between them and the people.

Some of the religious practices undertaken by the early civilization however seem very extreme when we consider them today. Human sacrifice were common, it was thought that human blood was required as an offering to the Mayan Gods. The leaders in the community were also required to regularly provide blood as an offering. They would systematically cut themselves with thorns and spines to obtain the blood.

The early Mayan culture believed that they traveled through the underworld after death and would face many dangers and challenges on their journey.

Woman weaving in Maya Culture

There are many Mayan communities living today. The community groups are usually found in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.

Some of the methods undertaken by the early civilization may well seem quite shocking to us now. However try and remember that these beliefs and practices were not uncommon and in fact fairly widespread amongst many civilizations of this time.

The Maya religion in modern day culture however is very different to the practices of the past. The history of Mexico changed when the Spanish arrived and they brought with them the knowledge and practice of the Roman Catholic religion.

The practice of the Roman Catholic faith and the traditional beliefs were combined to create a syncretic religion in Mayan communities. These beliefs and practices are still in place within many regions today.

Religious Mayan Temple



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