Ancient Maya Religious Practices and Beliefs Essays

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Almost every aspect of Maya life was centered on religion. These ancient Mesoamerican peoples worshipped many gods and goddesses; this was part of their daily lives, despite class differences in their sophisticated society. Religion served as a basis for the government and social life. Priests and shamans played an important role in their government, conducted religious ceremonies, and made sacrifices to the gods. The Maya believed in the supernatural, and used this belief to explain life and their universe. Every object, whether it is part of nature or man made, was considered sacred and worshipped. The Maya universe was composed of three different realms; the Upperworld in the sky, the Earth, and the Underworld down below. Also…show more content…
Xibalba was organized into nine descending levels, worsening in punishment and torture as the levels lowered. Maya Lords of Death ruled over the different levels. After death, those who led evil lives were condemned to Xibalba. The Maya described the Underworld as a place filled with water and rivers and could be entered through caves or bodies of water. Despite the various characteristics and features the Maya believed their ancestors, spirits, and gods resided in all three realms and worshiped them. Like any religion, the Mayas had religious leaders to lead the community spiritually. Priests and shamans guided the religious practices of the Maya and were of great importance to the survival of the civilization because they would help the people please the gods. Shamans were mainly commoners and looked after those in their local community. Much like medicine men of the Native American tribes, shamans used their knowledge of plants to act as doctors amongst the people and cure illness. It was the job of the shamans to perform rituals, decipher events, and tell the future so the people were able to know the will of the gods. Unlike shamans, priests were of the elite class and took part in much larger matters. Many elite class sons became priests because they could not all hold a political office. “Priests who were full-time specialists in religious matters emerged as Maya society became larger and more
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