The Vision Serpent was a very important social and religious symbol, revered by the Maya. Maya mythology describes serpents as being the vehicles by which celestial bodies, such as the sun and stars, cross the heavens. The shedding of their skin made them a symbol of rebirth and renewal.
They were so revered, that one of the main Mesoamerican deities, Quetzalcoatl, was represented as a feathered serpent. The name means “precious serpent”.
Remnants of the Vision Serpent have survived until modern times. Around 1930, J.E.S. Thompson noted in San Antonio, Belize, that the Q’eqchi’ Maya still performed a ritual very similar to the vision quest of the classic Maya, although in a different context. The ritual marked the initiation of a new shaman for the village. The participant came into direct contact with a giant serpent, Ochan (Och-Kan). It was through this experience that he completed his initiation rites and gained the knowledge that is needed to become a powerful shaman.