The Mayan creation story is known as the ‘Popol Vuh’. The word ‘Popol Vuh’ itself means ‘Council Book’, and is the most important sacred book in the Maya religion. The creation belief itself is that at the beginning of the world there were only the two creator gods: Gucumatz and Tepeu. These gods decided to create earth out of the primordial sea. Once the earth was created, the gods populated it with animals, but they soon realized that animals were unable to speak and therefore could not worship them. For this reason the gods created humans and had the animal's role relegated to food for humans. This generation of humans was made out of mud, and so were weak and were soon destroyed.As a third attempt, the gods created men from wood and women from rushes. These men populated the world and procreated, but they soon forgot their gods and were punished with a flood. The few who survived were transformed into monkeys. Finally, the gods decided to mold mankind from maize. This generation, which includes the present human race, is able to worship and nourish the gods. The Maya worshiped a number of nature gods, making their religion polytheistic. Their gods had had both a benevolent side and also a malevolent side. Their most important god was the god Itzamná. This was the creator god, the god of fire and earth. The Mayan view of the afterlife consisted primarily of a dangerous voyage of the soul through the underworld, which was populated by sinister gods and represented by the jaguar, symbol of night. The majority of Maya, including the rulers, went to this underworld. Heaven was reserved for those who had been sacrificed or died in childbirth.
The Mayan religion is a complex of many ritual practises. The Maya believed in blood sacrifice and bloodletting. Kings would perform bloodletting rites for every stage in life, every important political or religious event and significant calendar cycle endings. For the ancient Maya beginnings...
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