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Conception of the World – The Mayan Civilization

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The Maya conceived the cosmos as composed of 13 heavens, one above the other, with the earth being the lowest layer. Over each heaven, thirteen gods called the Oxlahuntiku presided.

Below the earth, there were nine more heavens, also in layers, over which the Bolontiku presided. The last of these heavens was the Mitnal, the Maya underworld, the realm of Ah Puch, the lord of death.

They believed that before their world, there had been other worlds destroyed by floods. The current world was upheld by four guardian brothers called Bacabes, located at the four cardinal points.

In the center of the Maya world stood the Yaxche or Kapok tree (sacred ceiba tree), whose branches reached up to the heavens and whose roots penetrated into the underworld.

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