Mayan and Aztecs believed in a heaven very similar to what we do today. They believe heaven to be a magical and wonderful place where the gods live. This place was called Tamoanchan. You could return to live among the gods when you die, if you die in certain way or make it through Xibalba. How you died determines where you go during the afterlife.
Mayan and Aztec heaven is controlled by the flower goddess, Xochiquetzal. There were 13 different levels of Tamoanchan. Aztec and Mayans believed that heaven was actually on earth, not in the sky. They believed heaven was hidden by a "mythical mountain". How you died didn't just determine whether you found your way to heaven or not, but also what level of heaven you where sent to.
Connections Between Worlds
Mayans and Aztecs also believed that the centers of the universe were Heaven, earth, and Xibalba were connected. They believed that these places were connected by the "world tree". There were many ways of connecting between worlds. One was called bloodletting. This is the process where rulers tried to impress or prove to the gods that they were worthy of rule and power. They did this by taking a thorned rope and sticking it through part of your flesh. Mostly rulers put it through their tongues, noses, or lips but they also used other places to get approval or guide from the gods. Other ways of communicating were religious dances, priestsí special drink and food, etc. There were many ways of reaching the gods and some still being discovered now.
Mayan art deals mainly with religion, politics, and their calendar. Their art appears as stone sculptures, inscriptions, jewelry, pottery, and wall paintings. The way the Mayans display their art, what the art is about, and what was used to make the art helps archeologists uncover the truth about Ancient Mayans and what their lives where like. Some things that Ancient Mayan art have told us is that (1) gods were born from religious actions of rulers, and another is that (2) religious ceremonies were part of Mayans daily lives by the Classic Period. All different kinds of ceremonies were held. So many that it took up much of the Mayans lives and almost seemed like it was their lives because it was a never ending cycle.
The Mayans and Aztecs based the afterlife on the Popol Vuh. They believed everything had a balancing double (Xibalba to Heaven). When people died they were buried with everything they could possibly need to find where they need to go. They were buried with gifts for the Underworld gods, paper clothes, food, water, blankets, and a jade bead. The jade bead was suppose to serve as their heart (replace).
Mayans and Aztecs had many symbols for different things in life. Like for instance the turtle is the symbol, or image, of Earth. Almost everything represented something else. That is what makes the Ancient Mayans and Aztecs so hard to understand. Another example of a symbol is sandals. Sandals stand for "lordly standing".