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latourdumoine
11-25-2010, 02:07 PM
I'm trying to write a follow-up to a short story that's already been published, which involves discussions about slavery (will post this separately) and Mayan priestesses. From what I've managed to glean from the internet (Google's your friend and all that), priestesses rarely, if ever, participated in heart sacrifice ceremonies. So here are my questions.

1. Does anyone have any (semi) decent sources they would recommend to look up the roles of priestesses?
2. Would the priestess have been married to the High Priest or was she just his companion, in other words, would they have been lovers at any point?
3. Under which circumstances would a priestess be able to have a lover? In other words, would this be a secret liaison or could they be lovers out in the open?
4. And if it was a secret liaison and they were found out, what would the repercussions be (would she die, would he be killed)?
5. Under which circumstances would a priestess be the one to perform the heart sacrifice and what would the occasion be? I'm thinking a new leader / High Priest taking power, new year (most likely an important one), her initiation maybe. And how does this change if she is asked to sacrifice the most previous thing to her and what could that be?

Thanks so much in advance.

Tsu Dho Nimh
11-25-2010, 10:42 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_religion#Fundamentals_of_Ritual

If there were priestesses - and I don't recall seeing any depicted, they would have had a very minor role in the organized religion of the classic Maya.

This site http://philtar.ucsm.ac.uk/encyclopedia/latam/maya.html says that women were excluded from the rituals.

The human sacrifice was less common for them, but it was done by the priests. You don't mess with the gods.

thothguard51
11-25-2010, 11:17 PM
I can't recall a single instance of a Mayan Priestess in any stories or books I have read about the Mayans. But I am not a Mayan authority.

Even if this is the case, this does not mean your story could not have one that is special. She would still have to fit in a world of Mayan Priest. It will depend on how you bend or blend known facts. And I am sure many of the Priest would be suspicious of her and may even want to prove her to be a false Priestess.

chris13
11-28-2010, 11:15 PM
Wonder if she could be like that Egyptian female pharaoh who was depicted as a male in carvings, beard and all. And BTW, when writing about the Mayans I also never found any mention of female priests. Of course, even the most male centric cultures had the occasional female warrior and probably a priestess.

latourdumoine
11-29-2010, 03:23 AM
Thanks guys, that was really helpful. Since I haven't figured out yet how to do multiple quotes, bear with me please.

Tsu Dho Nimh, thanks for the link. I looked pretty much everywhere and some books mentioned that there were priestesses but never anything specific. And agreed, you really don't want to mess with the gods, even centuries later, it will have repercussions.

Thothguard, I did see the occasional reference to present-day Mayan priestesses, so there's another idea, asking them about this directly. But you've voiced my thoughts exactly, thank you. Always good to see that something you were thinking of resonates with others. And they do test her, especially the High Priest.

Chris, I know who you mean. I wasn't thinking of that but it does raise interesting concepts and issues. She could have been depicted like a young boy perhaps, which would make her impossible to find.

You guys have really helped me a great deal.

latourdumoine
12-30-2010, 12:31 AM
Even if this is the case, this does not mean your story could not have one that is special. She would still have to fit in a world of Mayan Priest. It will depend on how you bend or blend known facts. And I am sure many of the Priest would be suspicious of her and may even want to prove her to be a false Priestess.

I was just thinking of that the other day, and wouldn't the women be suspicious as well? I'm guessing the priests more than the women but then again, some women would have issues with her, I'm sure of that.

What gets me about this whole thing is the heart sacrifice, how it's always said to have been an honor but then, when you really think of the implications for all involved . . .