For purposes of simplicity, this entry refers to both creatures as the jaguar. They carry much of the same meaning since they are colour variations of the same species.
"To Native Americans, the name of the Jaguar is synonymous with a creature that "kills with one blow" while the word "panther" comes from Greek panthera, meaning "all beast", showing just how important our ancestors considered this animal to be. The Mayans believed that, since the dawn of time, four Jaguars guarded the entrance to their maize fields. Since these people followed a lunar calendar, the Jaguar, a nocturnal creature, connected to their Goddess of the Moon, who is sometimes depicted with the claws of this great cat. It's association with the night and therefore occult knowledge gave the Jaguar the gift of second sight and prophecy, which explains why it sometimes appears depicted with four eyes, two for normal sight and two for supernatural vision. The jaguar was one of the major deities of the Mayans, appearing on their calendars, and venerated in the form of the Jaguar Priests who officiated at only the most important and sacred rites and rituals. The Incas, too, revered this big cat and built temples in it's honour.
While the jaws of a jaguar were emblematic of the gates of Heaven, it was also considered to be the Lord of the Underworld, no doubt because of it's ability to kill swiftly and surely, and was therefore one of the many creatures with the sacred responsibility of guiding soul to the world beyond. In the same way that the lion and the eagle are juxtaposed in many cultures, the jaguar was similarly aligned with this bird, which was called the "Jaguar of the Skies"
The animal carries the same powers of creation and destruction as the fire that, legend says, it brought to mankind. When there was a solar or lunar eclipse, it was thought that the planets were swallowed by a gigantic cosmic jaguar, which would similarly devour humankind at the end of the world. Thus, the jaguar was a powerful creature to be both worshipped and feared."