Article

Mesoamerican Religious Beliefs

F. Kent Reilly

in The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195390933
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195390933.013.0057

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Mesoamerican Religious Beliefs

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Mesoamerica was unified by a commonly held, if not unified, system of religious practice. Mesoamerican religion possessed a cosmology that saw the visible world as multitiered, consisting of the Above Realm of the heavens; the middle Earthly Realm, the home of living humanity; and the watery Beneath Realm of the dead and thus of the ancestors. Within this layered cosmic model, directionality and coloration played pivotal roles. Each cosmic layer possessed its own deities, and they were linked by an axis-mundi that could take the form of a world tree or mountain, or a temple or sacred fire. At times this axis mundi could assume the personified form of a ruler or important religious practitioner. The deities and supernatural entities that inhabited these realms could and often did cross the three cosmic realms.

Keywords: Mesoamerican religion; religious practice; deities; axis-mundi; cosmic realms

Article.  4487 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology by Region

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