Mayan Gods & Goddesses: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

Do you know who the Lady Rainbow was? How about the Mayan god whose name means lizard? In this lesson, find out interesting facts about the most popular Mayan gods and goddesses and discover why they were important!

Mayan Religion

Did you know that Mayan mothers would hang beads between their babies' eyes so that they would become cross-eyed? They did this so that their children would look like a Mayan god or goddess. Mayan gods and goddesses were very important to the Mayans and there were over 150 of them. Mayan gods and goddesses were deities, which are supernatural, supreme beings.

Gods and goddesses had both a good and bad side and were connected to nature. The Mayan gods controlled every part of life, including the weather, the harvesting of crops, life and death. Let's discover some interesting facts about a few of the most important ones.

Itzamna

One of the most important Mayan gods was Itzamna (pronounced eetz-am-NAH). Itzamna means 'lizard' or 'large fish' in the Mayan language. Itzamna was believed to be the god of creation. He was also the god of medicine and Mayans would pray to him for good health.

Itzamna is often seen in the form of a bird, known as the Bird of Heaven. In this bird form, Itzamna stands on top of a sacred tree called the ceiba (pronounced say-buh), a tropical tree native to Mexico and Central America. The tree is a symbol of the universe.

Ceiba Tree
ceiba

Kukulcan

On the spring and autumn equinoxes, the days when night and day are the same length, the Mayan god Kukulcan (pronounced ko-kol-CON) can be seen at the famous Mayan temple, Chichen Itza (pronounced chee-chen eet-zuh. Kukulcan has the form of a feathered serpent, or snake, and he appears as a shadow along the steps of the temple when the sun aligns just right. It is said that Kukulcan, also known as Quetzalcoatl (pronounced ket-zal-ko-ah-tel) is visiting the earth to give blessings of good health and a plentiful harvest before returning to the underworld. Kukulcan was a god called upon by those learning about law, agriculture, fishing, art and medicine.

Kukulcan the serpent on the equinox at Chichen Itza. Notice the shadow that looks like a snake!
Chichen Itza

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