The Mayan Conection

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The Maya civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization - noted for its hieroglyphic script - the only known fully developed writing system of the pre-Columbian Americas - as well as for its art, architecture, mathematics, calendar, and astronomical system.
Mayan Glyphs
Mayan Calendar
The Maya civilization developed in an area that encompasses south-eastern Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador.
This region consists of the northern lowlands encompassing the Yucatán Peninsula, and the highlands of the Sierra Madre, running from the Mexican state of Chiapas, across southern Guatemala and onwards into El Salvador, and the southern lowlands of the Pacific littoral plain.
The first Maya cities developed around 750 BC, and by 500 BC these cities possessed monumental architecture, including large temples with elaborate stucco façades.
Hieroglyphic writing was being used in the Maya region by the 3rd century BC.
Mayan Warrior
In the Late Preclassic a number of large cities developed in the Petén Basin, and Kaminaljuyu rose to prominence in the Guatemalan Highlands.
Beginning around 250 AD, the 'Classic Period' is largely defined as when the Maya were raising sculpted monuments with 'Long Count' dates.
This period saw the Maya civilization develop a large number of city-states linked by a complex trade network.
In the Maya Lowlands two great rivals, Tikal and Calakmul, became powerful.
In the 9th century, there was a widespread political collapse in the central Maya region, resulting in internecine warfare, the abandonment of cities, and a northward shift of population.
The Postclassic period saw the rise of Chichen Itza in the north, and the expansion of the aggressive K'iche' kingdom in the Guatemalan Highlands.

Maya Social Structures

'Classic Period' rule was centred on the concept of the divine king', who acted as a mediator between mortals and the supernatural realm.
Kingship was patrilineal, and power would normally pass to the eldest son.
A prospective king was also expected to be a successful war leader.
Maya politics was dominated by a closed system of patronage, although the exact political make-up of a kingdom varied from city-state to city-state.
By the Late Classic, the aristocracy had greatly increased, resulting in the corresponding reduction in the exclusive power of the divine king.

Mayan Culture

The Maya civilization developed highly sophisticated art-forms, and the Maya created art using both perishable and non-perishable materials, including wood, jade, obsidian, ceramics, sculpted stone monuments, stucco, and finely painted murals.
Mayan Culture
Maya cities tended to expand haphazardly, and the city centre would be occupied by ceremonial and administrative complexes, surrounded by an irregular sprawl of residential districts.
Different parts of a city would often be linked by causeways.
The principal architecture of the city consisted of palaces, pyramid-temples, ceremonial ball-courts, and structures aligned for astronomical observation.
Mayan Scribe
The Maya elite were literate, and developed a complex system of hieroglyphic writing that was the most advanced in the pre-Columbian Americas.
The Maya recorded their history and ritual knowledge in screen-fold books, of which only three uncontested examples remain, the rest having been destroyed by the Spanish.
There are also a great many examples of Maya text found on stelae and ceramics.
The Maya developed a highly complex series of interlocking ritual calendars, and employed mathematics that included one of the earliest instances of the explicit zero in the world.

Mayan Religion

The Maya viewed the cosmos as highly structured.
There were thirteen levels in the heavens, and nine levels in the underworld; the mortal world occupied a position between the heavens and the underworld.
Summoning the Gods
Each level had four cardinal directions associated with a different colour.
Major deities had aspects associated with these directions and colours; north was white, east was red, south was yellow, and west was black.
Maya lineages were patrilineal, so the worship of a prominent male ancestor would be emphasized, often with a household shrine.
As Maya society developed, and the elite became more powerful, Maya royalty developed their household shrines into the great pyramids that held the tombs of their ancestors.
Supernatural forces pervaded Maya life, and influenced every aspect of it from the simplest day-to-day activities, such as food preparation, to trade, politics, and elite activities.
Maya deities governed all aspects of the world, both visible and invisible.
The Maya priesthood was a closed group, drawing its members from the established elite; by the Early Classic they were recording increasingly complex ritual information in their hieroglyphic books, including astronomical observations, calendrical cycles, history and mythology.
The priests performed public ceremonies that incorporated feasting, blood-letting, incense burning, music, ritual dance, and human sacrifice.
During the Classic period, the Maya ruler was the high priest, and the direct conduit between mortals and the gods.
It is highly likely that, among commoners, shamanism continued in parallel to state religion.
By the Postclassic, religious emphasis had changed; there was an increase in worship of the images of deities, and more frequent recourse to human sacrifice.

Human Sacrifice

Blood was viewed as a potent source of nourishment for the Maya deities, and the sacrifice of a living creature was a powerful blood offering.
Mayan Human Sacrifiec
By extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering of blood to the gods, and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice.
Generally only high status prisoners of war were sacrificed, with lower status captives being used for labour.
Important rituals such as the dedication of major building projects or the enthronement of a new ruler required a human offering.
The sacrifice of an enemy king was the most prized offering, and such a sacrifice involved decapitation of the captive ruler in a ritual re-enactment of the decapitation of the Maya maize god by the Maya death gods.
The decapitation of an enemy king may have been performed as part of a ritual ballgame re-enacting the victory of the Maya Hero Twins over the gods of the underworld.
Sacrifice by decapitation is depicted in Classic period Maya art, and sometimes took place after the victim was tortured, being variously beaten, scalped, emasculated and/or disembowelled.
The Hero Twins myth recounted in the Popol Vuh relates how one of each pair of twins was decapitated by their ballgame opponents.
During the Postclassic period, the most common form of human sacrifice was heart extraction, influenced by the method used by the Aztecs in the Valley of Mexico.
This usually took place in the courtyard of a temple, or upon the summit of the pyramid.
Depending upon the exact ritual, sometimes the corpse would be skinned by assistant priests, except for the hands and feet.
The officiating priest would then remove his ritual attire and dress himself in the skin of the sacrificial victim before performing a ritual dance that symbolized the rebirth of life.
Archaeological investigations indicate that heart sacrifice was practised as early as the 'Classic Period'.

Mayan Gods
The Maya world was populated by a great variety of deities, supernatural entities and sacred forces.
The Maya had such a broad interpretation of what was sacred that identifying distinct deities with specific functions is inaccurate.
The Maya interpretation of deities was intrinsically tied to the calendar, astronomy, and their cosmic vision.
The importance of a deity, its characteristics, and its associations varied according to the movement of celestial bodies.
The priestly interpretation of astronomical records and books was therefore crucial, since the priest would understand which deity required ritual propitiation, when the correct ceremonies should be performed, and what would be an appropriate offering.
Each deity had four manifestations, associated with the cardinal directions, each identified with a different colour.
They also had a dual day-night/life-death aspect.
Itzamna was the creator god, but he also embodied the cosmos, and was simultaneously a sun god;
K'inich Ahau, the day sun, was one of his aspects.
Maya kings frequently identified themselves with K'inich Ahau.
Night Jaguar God
Itzamna also had a night sun aspect, the Night Jaguar, representing the sun in its journey through the underworld.
The Jaguar God of the Night Sun personifies the number Seven, which is associated with the day the 'Night'.
Often called 'Jaguar God of the Underworld', he has been assumed to be the 'Night Sun' - the shape supposedly taken by the sun (Kinich Ahau) during his nightly journey through the underworld - for reason of having the large eyes and filed incisor that also occur with the sun deity.
The deity's aspect of a nocturnal sun (that is, a subterranean fire) should perhaps be connected to his proven association with terrestrial fire.
He is often represented on incense burners and connected to fire rituals.
The fiery Night Sun Jaguar deity is also identified with a star (or, perhaps, a constellation or planet).
The god's other major sphere of influence is war, as witnessed, for example, by the stereotypical presence of his face on war shields.
 Búho of the Mayan
Jaguar God of the Night Sun
The night sun is also often accompanied by an Owl - Búho - the Owl of the Jaguar God of the Night Sun, as the owl is a winged creature of the night.
The four Pawatuns supported the corners of the mortal realm; in the heavens.
The four Chaacs were storm gods, controlling thunder, lightning, and the rains.
The nine lords of the night each governed one of the underworld realms.
Other important deities included the moon goddess, the maize god, and the Hero Twins.
The 'Popol Vuh' was written in the Latin script in early colonial times, and was probably transcribed from a hieroglyphic book by an unknown K'iche' Maya nobleman.
It is one of the most outstanding works of indigenous literature in the Americas.
The 'Popul Vuh' recounts the mythical creation of the world, the legend of the ''Hero Twins', and the history of the Postclassic K'iche' kingdom.
Maya Hero Twins
The 'Maya Hero Twins' are the central figures of a narrative included within the colonial K'iche' document called 'Popol Vuh', and constituting the oldest Maya myth to have been preserved in its entirety. The twins are often portrayed as complementary forces. The complementary pairings of life and death, sky and earth, day and night, sun and moon, among multiple others have been used to represent the twins, (there are similarities to Castor and Pollux in Classical mythology). According to the version of the myth in the 'Popol Vuh', the 'Hero Twins' were Xbalanque and Hunahpu, who were ball-players like their father and uncle, Hun Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu. Summoned to Xibalba by the Lords of the Underworld, the father and uncle were defeated, and sacrificed.Two sons were conceived, however, by the seed of the dead father. The pregnant mother fled from Xibalba. The sons - or 'Twins' - grew up to avenge their father, and after many trials, finally defeated the lords of the Underworld in the ball-game.  After 'reincarnating' (see below), the pair of boys departed Xibalba, and climbed back up to the upper world. They did not stop there, however, and continued climbing straight on up into the heavens, where one became the Sun, the other became the Moon
Deities recorded in the 'Popul Vuh' include Hun Hunahpu, the K'iche' maize god, and a triad of deities led by the K'iche' patron Tohil, and also including the moon goddess Awilix, and the mountain god Jacawitz.
In common with other Mesoamerican cultures, the Maya worshipped feathered serpent deities.
Such worship was rare during the 'Classic Period', but by the Postclassic the feathered serpent had spread to both the Yucatán Peninsula and the Guatemalan Highlands.
In Yucatán, the feathered serpent deity was Kukulkan, among the K'iche' it was Q'uq'umatz.
Kukulkan had his origins in the 'Classic Period' War Serpent, Waxaklahun Ubah Kan, and has also been identified as the Postclassic version of the 'Vision Serpent' of Classic Maya art.
Although the cult of Kukulkan had its origins in these earlier Maya traditions, the worship of Kukulkan was heavily influenced by the 'Quetzalcoatl' cult of central Mexico.
Likewise, Q'uq'umatz had a composite origin, combining the attributes of Mexican 'Quetzalcoatl' with aspects of the 'Classic Period' Itzamna.



Mayan Skull
God of the Underworls
The Maya were a ritualistic people, who paid great respect to the destructive nature of their gods. 
They had many traditions to commemorate the recently deceased, and worship long-departed ancestors.
People who died by suicide, sacrifice, childbirth and in battle, were thought to be transported directly into heaven.
The Maya dead were laid to rest with maize placed in their mouth.
Maize, highly important in Maya culture, is a symbol of rebirth, and also was food for the dead for the journey to the next world (or worlds).
Similarly, a jade bead placed in the mouth served as currency for this journey (in a a similar manner to the coin used by the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans).
Often, whistles carved from rocks into the shapes of gods or animals were included in the grave offerings to help the deceased find their way to Xibalba.
Xibalba, roughly translated as 'place of fear', is the name of the underworld in K'iche' Maya mythology, ruled by the Maya death gods, and their helpers.
Xibalba was home of a famous ball-court in which the heroes of the Popol Vuh succumbed to the trickery of the demons in the form of a deadly, bladed ball, as well as the site in which the 'Maya Hero Twins' (see above) outwitted the Gods, and brought about their downfall
The role of Xibalba and the Xibalbans after their great defeat at the hands of the Hero Twins is unclear, although it seems to have continued its existence as a then neglected dark place of the underworld.
The Maya associated the colour red with death and rebirth, and often covered graves and skeletal remains with cinnabar.
Burial sites were oriented to provide access to the next world.
Graves faced north or west, in the directions of the Maya Heavens.


The concept of reincarnation is one strongly mentioned in Mayan belief and religion.
Mayan Cyclic Time
Mayan Representation of Reincarnation
The 'Popol Vuh' gives importance to the 'Maize God', and how the Mayan people themselves descended from 'maize people' created by this god.
In the 'Popol Vuh' that the K'iche' Maya wrote, (one of the few surviving codices), it tells the story of the reincarnation of the Maize God.
In the tale, the Maize God retreats to the underworld, and with the Two Hero Twins, battling the monsters and lords of the place, makes way back to the material world.
He is reborn again, dies, and on and on the cycle continues.
This concept of the cyclic nature of time, and of existence, and the more personal concept of reincarnation has striking similarities with the speculations and beliefs of many of the thinkers of the classical Greek and Roman worlds, and even of the beliefs to be found in Hinduism and Buddhism.

The End of the Maya Kingdoms

In the 16th century, the Spanish Empire colonized the Mesoamerican region, and a lengthy series of campaigns saw the fall of Nojpetén, the last Maya city, in 1697.

There are hundreds of Mayan ruins spread across five countries: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
The six sites with particularly outstanding architecture or sculpture are Chichen Itza, Palenque, Uxmal, and Yaxchilan in Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala and Copán in Honduras.

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  1. Glad you removed the blue paint from the still frame of the sacrificial offering in Mel Gibson's Aposalypto. I think you've also added a bump in his loincloth, although I'd prefer an exposed raging hard-on. My favorite gay bartender's critique of H M Herget's paintings for a 1937 National Geographic article on Aztecs was that young men in crisis get hard (corpses after battle, boys in my public speaking classes throughout my teaching career, etc). There's some evidence that sacrifice offerings sex organs were cut off and stuffed in their mouths before the priest went to work on the heart. Gibson's set designer has a carved rock "hoop" from the Mayan ball game loom over the top of the temple when it should be in a walled courtyard for the game. It's still played in Mexico - will your transplanted boys get to see and try it? The losing team is stripped of possessions and destined for the sacrificial stone. There were also the stones of combat, altars to which a captive warrior was tethered at the ankle to fight one-by-one against 5 priests armed with obsidian edged swords armed himself with a sword edged in feathers. Legend has victim Tlaxcaktuca winning his freedom by defeating the five priests but insisting on taking on more, then insisting on being sacrificed when number 21 defeated him. The sexual charge of Mayan/Aztec religious sacrifice is almost overwhelming for a boy's imagination, isn't it? Looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead. Brody may face more challenges more serious than his previous existence as Reese Wells, who could always come back another day. Sorry to pop up out of nowhere, but I have been following things with keen interest in the first century story and am fascinated by the possibilities of the California Combat Club.

    1. Dear John,

      So pleased to hear from you, as your comments are so helpful
      Yes - the blue (Lapis ?) was a it off putting from the erotic point of view - but it was not easy removing it.
      Thanks for pointing out the 'ball-game' hoop.
      I will see that it is removed soon.
      Unfortunately Gibson is quite good at making such silly mistakes.
      The other difference - perhaps you noticed - was that I put a nice blue sky in, as the original scene had a rather unconvincing white background (easier for filming probably).
      I was very worried that you might not approve of my 'transporting' the story to the 'New World' and an oddly skewed America.
      (gives the 'Boss' a chance to 'discover' a young, unknown Elvis, (another of my favourite 'closest bisexual' characters)
      Reese Wells is ideal as 'Brody' - and will be a good subject for some explicit combat - but I still haven't decided how he shall fit into the story beyond that.
      The Meso-Americans (and Lloyd Wright's neo-Mayan architecture) have always fascinated me, and that situation was an excellent place for Gnaeus Gracchus to hang out while rifling archaeological sights, and making himself astoundingly rich - once again and with the help of Picaro (Faunus).
      The idea for reintroducing Faunus and Glaux came when I discovered the Mayan owl companion to the Jaguar God.
      The first story is working up to its inevitable, and by now predictable climax - and then the secod story shall really get going.

      Please stay in touch.....
      Good to hear from you