The Maya developed a participatory cosmology that saw the universe divided into 23 levels, the surface of the earth separating 13 levels of the heavens from 9 of the underworld. Each level was inhabited by different gods, who were both stupid and lazy. Bribery and tricky was required to influence the gods, and so hold everything in balance.

     In the Maya view it is the job of the inhabitants of the surface of the earth (the boundary layer) to manage the universe. Human intervention was essential to maintaining the balance between the heavens and the underworld. Without humans the universe would have no meaning. The gods were simply inhabitants of the other 22 realms. Just as fishermen everywhere prefer to sail from port with the tide and watch the birds to point out fish they cannot see, the Maya sought to align their endevors with the forces that flowed through the universe and watched the gods to signal things they could not see directly.

     Maya astronomy attempted to discern what the gods were doing, while the Maya calendar was a map of their habits.

     I think David Stuart is probably correct in translating the royal glyph as meaning "divine lord", but, considering the cultural context, I'm not sure this term connoted any respect.

See also: