Mythology Essays

Essay Introduction

One moment you’re thinking, what the Mayan mythology really is? Well, the Mayan mythology was an Ancient Native American civilization that grew the very best one with the most advanced civilizations in America. The people known as the Mayans lived in the region that is now eastern and southern Mexico, Guatemala, and western Honduras. The Maya was formed in many different ways and built massive stone pyramids, temples, sculptures, and gods.

Defining Mythology: A Conceptual Approach

Before going any further, we should agree on what mythology means. This is the definition this paper will use: “Myths, on the other hand, are stories of anonymous origin, prevalent among primitive peoples and by them accepted as true, concerning supernatural beings and events, or natural beings and events influenced by supernatural agencies” (Gayley 1). As a matter of fact, every culture has gods. The mythology I have chosen to research is the Maya. This is the list of my gods: the solar gods include: Tzakol, Bitol, Alom, Oaholom, Tepeu, Gukumatz, Cabaguil, a council of seven sun gods; Chirakan-Ixmucane; The Sacred twins: Hunahpu and Ixbalanque, Chac, Itzamna, Kinich Ahua, Ixchel the and Ix Ch’up the old, representing the phases of the moon (Leeming 255).

Research Paper on Mythology: The Gods of Mayan Civilization

The council of seven were sun gods. Tzakol was split into two gods, one of which was Ixpiyacoc or Bitol, also known as Ixmucane’s attempt at creating mortals; Alom, Oaholom, Tepeu, Gukumatz, Cabauil were a council of seven suns of gods. Chirakan-Ixmuncane: Hunahpu and Ixbalanque were like their father and uncle, Hunahpu and Xbalanque were bright and adventurous. They were also expert hunters and had magical powers. Because they were so handsome and clever, they aroused the jealousy of their half-brothers, who would steal their food and try to get them into all kinds of trouble (Leeming 255).

Chac was the rain god, was essentially a benevolent god, but one whose continued goodness depended on regular rituals and sacrifices. He sometimes instructed his people to abstain from either food or sex, but when he was in a harsher mood, he could order them to be tied up and thrown into the sacred well at Chichen Itza (Mills 481). Ixzamna was the supreme god who, as some believed, was the visible manifestation of Hunab Ku, and he was certainly a multitalented and multifunctional deity.

Ixzamna loved his people and bestowed on them the gifts of books, writing, calendars, and medicine (Mills 480). Kinich Ahau was the Sun by day, but at night, he became the jaguar lord Balam, prowling the lower regions of the Underworld (Mills 482). Ixchel was a formidable goddess associated with the moon, tides, and floods (Mills 480). In some accounts, she was the wife of the supreme god Itzamna, whereas other stories have her married to the sun god Kinich Ahau (Mills 480 ). Ix Ch’up was also called the old and represented the phases of the moon (Mills 482).

Thesis Statement for Mythology

Every culture has to start somewhere, and the Mayan one was no different. At the beginning of Mayan mythology, there was a balance between darkness and light, and this balance contained the eternal cycle of regeneration. Nothing was going on, but the sea was calm; it was very alone and tranquil and then came the world with many things (Mills 476). There were two gods that seemed happy with what they had created. A place that didn’t seem to have anything going at the time changed quickly from having nothing to having creatures such as birds, reptiles, and fish. When they came into the world, the animals were really confused about what was going on because the gods were trying to get them to sing their praises. Then the gods instructed the creatures to speak; what they said horrified the gods, and they were upset by what they had started (Mills 476).

Attempts and Trials in the Creation of Human Beings

When the first humans came, there were a lot of problems, like who would help them in the hard times. The First attempt to make a human being didn’t quite work out the way it should have because they kept falling apart. They fell apart because the gods made them from mud and clay (Mills 477). The gods finally grew tired of trying; they contacted two other gods about what they should do to help the material stay together. The gods suggested that the best suitable material would be wood because it was thick and it’s made from trees. Once they tried it, they thought it would work until one early day, a nasty storm came upon and destroyed the wooden model figure (Mills 477).

The final choice they had was yellow, white, black, and red maize kernels that they mixed with water to create some hard substance. Then that is when humans were created. The gods were happy with what they had finally done and what the results had come out to be. Their main problem was that they were too smart, and they worried that the formation that they saw their visage and realize that they would not have flawless ideas (Mills 477).

Titles: Explanatory Myths in Mayan Civilization

The next kinds of myths are explanatory myths. Explanatory myths “…are the outcome of naïve guesses at the truth, of mistaken and superstitious attempts to satisfy the curiosity of primitive and unenlightened peoples, to unveil the mysteries of existence, make clear the facts of the universe and the experiences of life, to account for religious rites and social customs of which the origin is forgotten, to teach the meaning and the history of things” (Gayley 431). The story that is an example of this is “The Magic Tools” (Spence 223-224).

Growing up, Hun-Apu and Xbalanque participated in many events occurring as a part of a larger story. While attempting to clear land for a corn farm, they used magic tools to do a great amount of work while they were not present because they were hunting (Spence 223-224). They covered their faces and hands with dirt so Xmucane would believe that they had done all the hard work themselves, and then, Xmucane would value their hard work (Spence 224). The wild animals undid all the work that the magic tools had done during the day. This made the twins angry, so they planted a net as a trap for the wild animals (Spence 224).

The animals came the next night and were caught. All of them were able to escape except the rat, the deer, and the rabbit. The rabbit and the deer lost their tails while escaping. The rat saved his life by telling him the stories of their uncle and father (Spence 224). This story explains why rabbits and deer don’t have tails anymore and why the Maya don’t kill rats but allow them a certain bit of the crops to reward them for telling the stories. This story is also an explanatory myth because it uses superstition instead of science to explain why deer and rabbits don’t have tails like other animals. It does not show any curiosity, so it does not fit that part of the definition. It does not mention religious or social customs, so it does not explain them. It does teach the history of why they cleared and planted corn fields the way that they did.

Another kind of myth is the aesthetic myth. They are defined as follows: Aesthetic myths have their origin in the universal desire for amusement, in the revulsion of the mind from the humdrum of actuality. They furnish information that may not be practical but is delightful; they elicit emotion—sympathy, tears, and laughter—for characters and events remote from our commonplace experience but close to the heart of things and near and significant and enchanting to us in the atmosphere of imagination that embraces severed continents, inspires the dead with life, bestows color and breath upon the creatures of a dream, and wraps old and young in the wonder of hearing a new thing (Gayley 432-433).

Argumentative Essay Examples on Mythology

This is an example of the aesthetic myth: “The Legend of the Dwarf” (Spence 192-194). An old woman lived alone in her hut and rarely went out. She was very disappointed and sad that she had no kids. She was so sad that she took an egg and wrapped it up in a cotton cloth, and put it in the corner of the house. She stared at the egg every day, but nothing happened (Spence 192). One early morning, she found the broken shell, and guess what was sticking out of the broken shell, a baby stretching its arms to her. The old woman was overjoyed. She loved the baby so much and raised it so carefully that it grew to be a man in a year’s time (Spence 192).

Suddenly, the man stopped growing, so the old woman suggested that he should try being a leader (Spence 192). She told him to go to the king’s palace to challenge him to a test of strength, but the dwarf begged not to go because he did not trust himself (Spence 192). The old woman refused to listen to him, so he was forced to obey her command, or else he would pay the consequences (Spence 192). When he arrived at the palace, he challenged the king and asked him to lift three stones that weight seventy-five pounds each (Spence 192-193). The dwarf ran home to his mother, crying, but she sent him back and told him if the king could do it, so could he (Spence 193). His strengths were tried in several different ways; the king did it, and so did the dwarf. The king was disappointed that the dwarf was outdoing him, so the king told the dwarf if he didn’t build a sturdy and reliable palace, then he should die (Spence 193).

The next morning, the frightened dwarf returned to the old woman, and she told him not to worry. The next morning when they woke up in the palace, the king was amazed at what he had seen. Next, he sent the dwarf to get a couple more bundles of hardwood, with which he planned to hit the dwarf on the head. The old woman knew he would and gave the dwarf a tortilla to put on his head. The king broke the entire bundle on the dwarf’s head without even hurting him (Spence 193). Now it was the dwarf’s turn to hit the king. The dwarf struck, and the second he did, the king’s skull was shattered to pieces. The judges told the dwarf he had won, and they made him king (Spence 193). After this happened, the old woman vanished. However, in the small village of Mani, about fifty miles away, there was a deep well.

The old woman, who was the dwarf’s mother, sat there, having a large snake by her side. She sold water in tiny portions, accepting no money. However, she only accepts babies as payment. She feeds the snake (Spence 194). This story fits the definition of an aesthetic myth for the following reasons: people feel sympathy for the old lady because she had no children and wanted some, people find it funny when the dwarf beats the king up, the dwarf cries when he thinks he could not win the contest, and the people laughed at the dwarf when he wore a tortilla on his head. The myth that tells about the people is the heroic myth. It is defined as follows: The hero starts out in the ordinary world, receives a call to adventure (quest), refuses the call, meets a mentor, crosses the threshold, has various tests and meets both enemies and allies, has a conflict—either external or internal about whether he can do this, undergoes an ordeal, receives a reward or seizes the sword, has to travel home, has an encounter with death, and finally, returns with the prize (Campbell 77).

An example from this mythology is “Quetzalcoatl” (Rosenberg 492-497). Quetzalcoatl was a big guy who wore a jaguar skin cap, quetzal feather cloak, a seashell necklace, and ankle chains made of rattles (Rosenberg 493-494). He was very loud, and while he lived, all plant grew to huge sizes and was amazing in their colors and shapes (Rosenberg 494). Quetzalcoatl arrived in Tula. He taught them all the important skills that they needed for civilization. He was famous for his principles. He ruled the Toltecs and even defied the evil magicians and would not allow them to perform human sacrifices (Rosenberg 494). A strong man, even one who is good, will still make enemies. Our hero was no exception. A man named Tezcatlipoca was jealous of Quetzalcoatl because everyone loved him (Rosenberg 494).

Tezcatlipoca changed into a jaguar and chased Quetzalcoatl. Next, he tricked him into thinking he was old. He also made him afraid of being old and offered him a drink that would cure it. Quetzalcoatl refused to drink, saying that he didn’t need whatever wonderful properties the drink had. Finally, Tezcatlipoca persuaded Quetzalcoatl to take a taste, and Quetzalcoatl became an alcoholic (Rosenberg 495). After Quetzalcoatl became an alcoholic, he forgot his morals and did whatever he wanted without worrying about the consequences (Rosenberg 495). After he quit drinking, Quetzalcoatl felt guilty about what he had done while he was drinking and wanted to stop being king. However, the people didn’t want him to stop (Rosenberg 495). Tezcatlipoca decided to destroy Quetzalcoatl’s people by making them sing (Rosenberg 495-496). He dressed up like an entertainer, and the people sang with him until their hearts quit and they died(Rosenberg 496). Next, Tezcatlipoca changed into a warrior and persuaded the Toltecs to go fight a mighty enemy. Once they were all in one place, he changed back and killed many of them (Rosenberg 496).

Then, Tezcatlipoca pretended to be a puppeteer. He pushed the people into killing him with stones. His body gave off a gas that poisoned people, and so he killed many more people. They tried to get rid of the body but found it too heavy to carry (Rosenberg 496). The gas poisoned the food, so they were all starving. Tezcatlipoca showed up and offered them food to eat. When they all came for the free food, he killed them (Rosenberg 496). Since Quetzalcoatl felt guilty for letting Tezcatlipoca kill his people, he left the city. Before he left, he buried all his treasure in the mountains around the city. He went on his way, traveling southeasterly toward the sea (Rosenberg 496).

During his journey, Quetzalcoatl stopped to look in a mirror and found out he was not as old as he had been tricked into thinking he was. It made him angry, and he threw rocks at a nearby tree. Some of those stones were still in the tree when this story was written down (Rosenberg 496). Next, he met a group of demons who asked why he was leaving. He told them that the Sun had called him, and he must do as he was told (Rosenberg 496). The demons told him he had to do what they said if he wanted to continue his journey. He had to leave behind all his valuables (Rosenberg 497). Finally, he reached the destination, which was the eastern sea. He built a raft made of snakes and wore his feathered cloak and turquoise mask. He told the people watching that he would come back someday (Rosenberg 497). 


Every culture has a rich mythology that reveals not only its history but also its beliefs, values, and aspirations. The Mayan mythology, with its diverse gods and compelling myths, is a fascinating testament to the imaginative and spiritual capacity of the Mayan civilization.

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