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Axes Mundi: Ritual Complexes in Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon

TitleAxes Mundi: Ritual Complexes in Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsWright, Mark Alan
JournalInterpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship
KeywordsAncient America – Mesoamerica; Book of Mormon Geography; Nephite; Ritual; Temple; Time

An axis mundi refers to a sacred place that connects heaven and earth and is believed to be the center of the world. These places are sanctified through ritual consecration or through a divine manifestation that results in qualitatively detaching that space from the surrounding cosmos. Often expressed in architecture as a universal pillar, these axes mundi incorporate and put in communication three cosmic levels — earth, heaven, and the underworld. As Mark Alan Wright notes, Mesoamerican sacred architecture was designed according to cosmological principles and finds a modern analogy in Latter-day Saint temples. Also, among Mesoamerican civilizations and in the Book of Mormon, the temple, the axis mundi, served as a place where worshipers go to engage in sacred rituals that bridge the divide between heaven and earth and allow the worshiper entry into the divine presence.