In The Mysterious Maya, I learned a lot of things in regards to the history of the native inhabitants of Central America and in relation to the Spanish involvement thereafter. I learned a great deal about the culture and religion of the Maya and Aztec population. I had no idea the extent of the two culture's belief systems.
In the article, I found the information on the Toltec-Aztec religion to be quite fascinating. The authors bring up the almost voodoo-like, "superstitious," (p. 5) aspect of their culture:
"…they cut open their victims' chests and tore out their still-beating hearts as an offering to the sun god…they were feeding it with its favourite food, human life-force, which would ensure that the sun would keep on rising" (p. 5).
The term "life-force" raises my eyebrows. I would like to learn more in-depth about how their spirituality beyond the mutilation of the body. Do they believe in hell? What do they believe "heaven" is? What happens in heaven?
To Western civilizations, this would seem frightening – and very absurd – that the idea of sacrificing a human being to appease the gods is practical or even viable. But I, like the authors, believe that it is not unlike the Christian model of "mortification of the flesh and self-sacrifice" (p. 2).It is interesting to me that Cortes and the Catholic Church didn't realize this parallel.
Connecting this point, I learned how ethnocentric the newly-settled Spanish-Americans really were. It seems to me that even the more enlightened researchers and Catholic Friars who communicated with the "Indians" had this view. In an attempt to explain the "backwards" religion and culture of the Aztec and Maya populations, the unique and uncanny Mesopotamian similarities in architecture of Palenque, and even allusion that the "Roman Empire" (p.19) had a hand in the erection of …