Who was the Mayan Goddess Ixchel? | LDS Tours Cancun
The legend of Ixchel
Ixchel was a Mayan princess of great captivating beauty, capable of conquering the heart of numerous suitors, including the heart of the prince and great Mayan priest from Bacalar, Itzamná.
A prince from another city arrived and immediately fell in love with Ixchel. He was determined to fight for her affection, without knowing that her heart already belonged to Itzamná.
Ixtab, sister of Ixchel, knowing that both men were deeply in love with the princess Ixchel, urged them to fight to the death to win her heart.
The fight was arduous since both loved Ixchel; Itzamná was about to defeat the prince, but he cheated and hurt Itzamná.
Princess Ixchel was devastated by this terrible act, so she decided to take her life entrusting her soul to her sister Ixtab. So she could be with her beloved Itzamná again.
Then, Ixtab cursed the prince for cheating, and his name was no longer known. Ixtab, taking the entrusted soul of her sister, became the Goddess of suicide.
The spirit of Itzamná rose to become the God of the Sun. The spirit of Ixchel rose and became the Goddess of the moon. Both were married in heaven. Itzamná covered the skies with an infinite number of stars as his proof of devotion and eternal love to Ixchel. The stars represent the maidens who died at an early age and rise to shine for all eternity
Who is the Goddes Ixchel?
The Goddess Ixchel is represented in many ways according to the attributes she possessed. In the book titled “Chilam Balam” refers to Ixchel as the”glowing lady or rainbow lady”, but there are also records in which she is known as Sak U ‘Ixik “The White Moon Mrs”, or Chak Chel “the Big Rainbow”, and lastly Ix Chebel Yax the Lady of the First Brush.
Ixchel was venerated as Goddess of the Moon because of her feminine character, and because of the influence she had, like the moon in the lives of men and women, she was the Goddess of love, sexuality, fertility, pregnancy, births, medicine, healers, water, crops. She was also a patron of textiles, arts, painting. In many images, she was represented as a woman weaving, and her fabric was the thread of life, symbolizing the umbilical cord and the placenta.
It is believed that at the time Itzamná fell deeply in love with her, she was weaving. Other people say that she had another face, which was often associated with evil, death, spells, and disasters. In many representations, she was surrounded by symbols of the Xibalba, the Mayan underworld.
How did the Mayan represent Ixchel?
The Mayan represented Ixchel in three ways:
- Young Woman: as a symbol of the crescent moon, often accompanied by a rabbit.
- Mature woman: she was usually represented by giving birth, a symbol of fertility and motherhood that she represents.
- Elderly woman: as a symbol of the waning moon, emptying a pitcher full of water on the earth. This image is the one that is sometimes represented along with Xibalba symbols. She is depicted wearing a headdress with a snake which has the meaning of the wisdom that rises thanks to the energy of the earth. (You can compare the snake that tempted Eve when she ate the prohibited fruit. After that, Eve’s understanding is expanded.)
Ixchel is recognized in other cultures, equating her to the Pachamama Goddess of the Inca culture, The Goddess Isis of the Egyptians, and the Goddess Athena of the Greeks.
The Mayan culture celebrated the Goddess Ixchel in the month Zip. This period is from August 21 to September 13 in her character as Goddess of medicine and fertility. Veneration to this Goddess is so important that she has several centers of worship among the most important.
The venerators embarked in canoes leaving the port of Polé (currently Xcaret) and arrived in Dcuzamil (Cozumel) with an offering. The purpose of these offerings was to ask her for predictions and to bless them with many children, as she was known for being the Goddess of fertility. Grateful, Ixchel would offer her protection to the faithful Mayan people.
The people from Isla Mujeres, especially pregnant women, would go to the cliff where a beautiful rainbow was formed to offer their prayers. They would ask for the health of their children and theirs, also asked Ixchel to make their husbands love their children. After giving birth, the woman placed a statue of Ixchel under the bed of the mother and the baby. Women who still had no children asked for the ability to have them.
Zama, currently, Tulum, for at least 400 years, was an important commercial port and a sanctuary to offer tribute and worship to the Goddess Ixchel. The image of Ixchel in Tulum could be one of the three women who appear in the murals of the Temple of the Frescoes. She is believed to be the one that has a jaguar claw, grinding on a metate, and has a plume of the divine entity Xochiquetzal.
Alma’s LDS Tours offers a great variety of tours where you can keep learning more about the history of this and more Mayan deities.
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