One common factor linking many mythological pantheons is the presence of a chief sky god. There are many such gods in the Mayan pantheon, but one of the most famous is the god Itzamna.
Taking on many different roles in the Mayan religion, he is a god deeply connected not only with acts of creation, but also with knowledge and healing. Similar to the Greek God Zeus and the Roman legend Jupiter.
Like many of the gods in the Mayan pantheon, Itzamna has multiple different aspects. When presenting himself as a human, he did so as an old man with a large nose, square eyes, and generally without teeth.
He’s generally considered to have a pleasant demeanor that belied his status as one of the chief gods of the Mayan pantheon.
Another important form of Itzamna is that of the Bird of Heaven. This is a large bird that bears the words for day and night on its wings and that has a head like a falcon. This bird often has a two-headed snake in its mouth.
Another of his forms is that of a two-headed caiman. In this form, he represents the duality of the universe as conceptualized by the Maya. His final form is the form he assumes in the underworld – that of a skeletal crocodile.
In addition to his mythical representations, he was also represented in the Mayan religion by a priest who wore a headdress featuring the sacred bird deity. This was meant to be not only a representation of him, but a ceremonial version giving his blessing to a Mayan leader.
As a primary creator deity, Itzamna has a number of different powers and abilities. In those legends in which he is considered the primary creator, he has power over the earth, the underworld, and the sky.
He may or may not have also had some powers over the division of how various aspects of the land worked. He is often considered to have significant powers when it came to medicine.
He is usually thought of as the inventor of medicine, or at least the deity who brought medication to the people. He is the god most closely associated with both science and writing, but he’s also a god that has some clear associations with disease.
Itzamna’s role as the deity responsible for writing and the calendar has led to him being a fairly important figure in the Mayan calendar.
There are two separate months with special ceremonies related to him – one related to writing and the other related to medicine. In the cycle of Mayan years, one of those years is also supposed to be directly under the purview of him.
The creator deity also has a special role during the coronation of Mayan rulers, with priests wearing his ritual headdress bestowing the official headdress of ruler-ship on the king.
This ritual is symbolic not only of a connection between the priesthood and the ruler, but also a direct connection between Itzamna and the ruler.
Gods and Goddesses / ABC Flash Point News 2022.