Lady Blood, Mother-To-Be of the Hero Twins, and the Lords of the Underworld
The gods of the Maya can seem very confusing, and just looking at the intricate murals, statues and drawings can tend to give you a headache at first! The thing to understand about Mayan art is.........it's not "art"! These things of beauty were intended as a tribute to their gods, or to their rulers. When attempting to decipher Mayan designs, remember that every single design element that you see, no matter how confusing, has a meaning or is a symbol. Nothing is random or done only for the sake of beauty.
The Young Maize God
To the Maya, religion was not a Sunday thing only, - it was a way of life. Everything the Maya did in their daily routine, all their actions and their goals, were directed toward living in harmony with the forces of nature, and this mind set continues with Native American people today.
With our modern farming technology and food storage capability, we probably can't comprehend just how dependent the Maya were upon the natural world. The lack of sufficient rainfall, plagues of insects, or a poor harvest could mean disaster. To the Maya, this disaster might be avoided by appealing to the special god in charge of a particular function of nature.
The Maya had the concept of a Creator that was similar to our own, and this Creator had two sons; one in the sky world, and one in the underworld. But their view of Creation, and how things work was more complex than ours, because of their dependence on the forces of nature. One god could not cover all the aspects of divinity for them; an entire pantheon of gods was needed for the people to see how their universe was ordered, and kept running. Their gods had epic adventures, were partly mortal, like Greek gods, and provided examples to the Maya in how to live. Before we are tempted to laugh at their beliefs, consider how close this idea is to our concept of saints.
It is wrong of us to peek out of our modern windows at ancient civilizations, and make arbitrary judgment calls on whether they were "right" or "wrong" in our viewpoint. Nor can we apply ancient values to modern times. We must simply observe, uncritically, if we are to know the Mayan mind.