The Mayan people had an extensive pantheon of deities since they had a polytheistic belief system. The religion was based on a number of creation mythologies which described how humans came into being, how the world and the cosmos was created and what were the main tasks of different gods.
Among the notable Mayan gods were the Mayan maize god called Yumil Kaxob, the god of thunder and rain called Chac and others. Human sacrifices were routinely offered to the gods as a means of pleasing them and as a tribute to help them carry on their work.
Acat was a Mayan deity who was primarily associated with the art of tattooing. He was considered the patron deity of tattoo artists Read more about the Acat >>
Although the Mayans had several rain deities, Chaac was probably the most prominent rain deity in their pantheon of Gods Read more about the Chaac >>
Hunab Ku is a controversial Mayan deity, modern scholars believe Hunab Ku invented by Christian missionaries after the Spanish conquest Read more about the Hunab Ku >>
Huracan was one of the most powerful deities in the Mayan pantheon. He was a god actively involved in the creation phase of Earth and mankind Read more about the Huracan >>
Chaac was the Mayan god of thunder and rainstorms. He is frequently depicted in extant Mayan sources as a human figure armed with an axe. Mayans believed that when Chaac struck with his axe, it produced lightning and thunder.
Mayans also associated Chaac with the four cardinal directions. In some sources, the four directions are called the four Chaacs. Mayans dedicated a number of religious rituals in honor of Chaac, often celebrating these rituals around the natural wells called cenotes. Sometimes, human sacrifices in the form of drowning were carried out to please Chaac.
Bacab was a Mayan god who was considered both singular and plural by the Mayans. They referred to him as a single entity as well as a collection of four deities.
Mayans believed that when in a previous epoch, the gods were unhappy with their creation of the world and decided to destroy it in a deluge, the Bacabs were four brothers tasked with upholding the sky. When the deluge came, the four brothers escaped. Later Mayans associated the Bacab with urban architecture and honoured him through different rituals.
Camazotz was a Mayan god who was associated with bats. He figures prominently in the Mayan saga of Hero Twins where he is one of the bats of the underworld.
According to the mythological saga, the lords of the underworld send the Twins to the House of Bats. The Twins shrink themselves and hide in their own blowguns. When one of them looks out, Camazotz cuts his head and takes it to the underworld lords. The name of Camazotz meant “death bat” in Mayan language and he was associated with death and underworld.
Mayan god Chin was associated with homosexual relationships. According to the Spanish monks who accompanied the conquistadors, it was customary among the Mayans to allow sexual relationships between young men and young boys. Such relationships were encouraged by the fathers who saw this as a fulfilment of a tradition set by the deity, Chin. In Mayan mythology, the god Chin had a similar relationship with a demon. This was seen as a religious acceptance of homosexual relationships among the Mayans.
Hunab Ku in Mayan means the Sole God. This deity has been at the centre of a scholastic dispute that has been ongoing for centuries. Some researchers believe that Hunab Ku refers to the Christian God, a concept which was introduced to the Mayans after the Spaniards conquered their lands. Alternatively, it is suggested that Hunab Ku refers to an originally Mayan deity who was worshipped before the Spanish arrived in Mesoamerica.
The earliest reference to Hunab Ku is found in a text dated back to the 16th century. Most Mayanists believe that Hunab Ku was not an original Mayan deity since Mayans didn’t have a notion of a single god, although they did have deities which they considered creator deities.
Huracan was one of the most powerful Mayan deities. He was considered the god of fire, storm and wind, and was one of the prominent deities of the Mayan pantheon who played a role in creating different versions of humanity.
Mayans believed that after the gods destroyed Earth in a great deluge at the end of a previous epoch, Huracan summoned the land out of the water until it finally rose. In Mayan depictions, he is shown as a deity with one human leg and a serpent in the place of his other leg. According to Mayan mythology, he also took part in destroying the previous failed attempts at creating humans.
Itzamna was considered the creator deity in the Mayan pantheon. He is among the most supreme Mayan deities and Mayans regarded him as the god of rulership. He was believed to reside in the celestial realm from where he looked down on the Earth and guided the humans’ affairs.
According to the estimates of the researchers, different transformative depictions in the extant Mayan sources refer to Itzamna. If these theories are to be believed, Itzamna emerges as a deity referring to one of the earliest Mayan ancestors who was deified at a later period.
Snakes were a very popular symbol related to religion and mythology in the Mayan culture. The Mayan deity, Kukulkan, was a manifestation of this. Kukulkan was considered a snake deity and had a cult-like followership. Since similar serpent deities and figures existed among other Mesoamerican cultures as well, Kukulkan became one of the shared cultural traits which helped these cultures connect with each other. It is believed that the magnificent pyramid-temple El Castillo in Chichen Itza was dedicated to Kukulkan.
Mayans had a large pantheon comprising of many different gods. Some of these gods were considered ancient and counted among the creator deities who created the Earth and humans a number of times.
Other gods were associated with natural phenomenon such as thunder, lightning and rain. Chaac was a primary example of this, considered the god who caused thunder and lightning with his axe. Mayans also had themes of ancestor worship reflected in their deities, an example of which was the god Itzamna.
Some Mayan gods were specific to certain Mayan city-states while others transcended political divisions and were universally worshipped and revered all over the Mayan regions. One of the most popular Mayan gods, with a cult-like following, was the snake deity Kukulkan.