The Mayan Crystal is a work of fiction. Occasionally it nods to mythology and folklore of the Maya, but it is not intended to be an exact replica of cultural practices. With that said, here are some of the inspirations for various composite characters. Minor spoilers throughout. Thanks to research consultants Monique Boudreau and Kimberly Vasquez.
Kulkulkan – Creator god. Kukulcan is, in origin, a Toltec god who was adopted by the Mayan culture and who corresponds closely with the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl. He is chiefly concerned with reincarnation, but is also responsible for the elements of fire, earth and water. He is depicted with various attributes, including a torch or a lizard representing fire, corn for earth, and a fish for water.
Obviously, we re-imagined Kulkulkan as a goddess.
Ix’Chel – Ix Chel was associated with different roles at different times. There is disagreement about whether or not she is actually associated with the Moon, but the most likely explanation is that in her crone form she is associated with the waning crescent moon. Our “Ix” (Eesh) the talking serpent is inspired by this divine figure who, amongst other things, is an earth goddess.
Mayan Lullaby – Inspired by poems translated and read by John Curl – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp2u9rG0nZs
Animal Powers – Nagualism and shape-shifting is a powerful and common theme in folklore and legend throughout the Mayan world and elsewhere in Central America.
Daykeepers – The Mayan Crystal’s Angelina the storyteller is also Daykeeper of her village, a role that has both ceremonial and spiritual significance in Mayan tradition. For some in-depth info, see: http://www.nightfirefilms.org/breakingthemayacode/interviews/TedlocksTRANSCRIPT.pdf
Village Structure – The cues for “Little Parrot” were borrowed from life in a typical modern Mayan village. While some villages are incredibly remote, many are at the intersection of the modern world yet hold on to some amount of their traditional practices. And many face the dilemma of whether to preserve resources like the rainforest for long-term benefits or to sell those resources for short-term economic prosperity.
Crystal – The Maya were actually very much into jade, using it for artistic, religious, and even practical purposes (Wikipedia). However, the notion of “Crystals” and the Maya is rather popular in Belize because of the fascinating process of calcification of bones in underground caves and the famous Crystal Maiden found at the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave. Since “The Mayan Ceremonial Jade Rock” didn’t really have a ring to it, we went simply with “Crystal.”
Mayan Underworld – The Mayan Underworld as depicted in The Mayan Crystal is on the ‘true’ish’ side. Like their counterparts in Greece, the ancient Maya thought of the underworld as a pretty nasty place, but somewhere that really brave heroes could adventure to and make it out of alive… Though maybe not without paying a price.