Describe the Olmec religion (be specific).This question is from the textbook "The Earth and Its People: A Global History" (chapter 2)

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markchambers1966 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
It is hard to be very specific about the Olmec as actually not a huge amount is known about them specifically. We do know they came before the Mayans in Mesoamaerica, so they were the first people of Mexico, and it is probable they were the first people to use a written language. In terms of religion, they had similar rituals to the Mayans but largely featured worship of the Jaguar and Werejaguars who were children with jaguar features.The belief would appear to be that the jaguar was very closely connected to the spirit and that ifthe jaguar dies so does the person. The elements of fire and water along with the Earth and Sun were also worshipped as Gods and it may well be that their rulers were either classified as Gods or seen at least to be connected to the Gods. Astronomy was part of their belief and they appear to have had a religious practice involving thunder worship whereby the ax was a central feature. The Olmec believed that they were descendants of the jaguar and therefore the animal was held in very high regard by the people, it would have featured in the religious ceremonies and was a popular subject in art.