Mayan Symbols of the Goddess Ixchel
Ixchel is a Mayan goddess – we know that for sure, but her roles within the Mayan structure of divine rites are complicated.
As a community changes and grows – particularly when the collective progress is swift and massive, the gods and goddesses of the community have to change with its people.
In other words, we see Ixchel’s role morphing through the rapid evolution of the Mayan culture.
She is known as a moon goddess, an agent of fertility and a midwife. She’s been a water goddess, which ebbs nicely with esoteric symbolism of childbirth (water being closely associated with the womb, and the birth of a child being symbolic of being born from the cosmic oceans of teeming life). She’s also been a healer, a shaman and a female warrior.
The Mayan goddess Ixchel held down many jobs during her tour of duty as a goddess among the Mayan regime.
Important Roles of the Mayan Goddess Ixchel
- Moon Goddess
- Water Goddess
- Female Warrior
- Matron of Midwifery
- Fertility Goddess
- Earth Goddess
- Crone – Death Goddess
- Patroness of Weaving
- Deity of Divination
- Healing Deity
A little overwhelming, isn’t it? It’s good to know gods and goddesses are unlimited. They cannot be bound to conventionalism. Their identifications are dependent upon one thing, and one thing only: Human perception.
Ixchel has held many titles and executed many divine edicts over her reign. So, when we discover her with our modern minds, it’s hard to pin point her “prime-root” – her primary functions – because she’s been so versatile in the ancient ways.
I find exploring the goddess symbol meanings associated with Ixchel provides a more broad understanding of her personality. Even though her purpose and functions morphed throughout the Mayan generations, her symbols were relatively resolute in their meanings. For example, the symbolic meaning of serpents (a goddess symbol associated with Ixchel) remained pretty consistent within the collective understanding of the Mayans. Even if Ixchel’s persona shifted from benevolent mother to intolerant crone…the meaning behind Ixchel’s symbols remain relatively constant. So, where her personality changes, her goddess symbol meanings offer an anchor and thus a guide to her purpose in Mayan culture.
That said, let’s take a look at the goddess symbols that have adorned and are associated with Ixchel.
Common Mayan Symbols of the Goddess Ixchel
Serpent as a Mayan Symbol:
There is perhaps no other creature of higher popularity among the Mayan culture than the snake. Well, maybe jaguars and eagles ranked equal or higher, but the serpent is an undeniably profound centerpiece in the Mayan’s symbolic nobility. Why? Three reasons: 1) Serpents swallow their prey whole, and that is big magic. In this act, the serpent illustrates the potential of metamorphosis.
Moon Mayan Symbolism:
Scholars are still on the fence about Ixchel’s association with the moon. Some identify her confidently in certain ruins, holding a rabbit (which is often synonymous with the moon in Mayan symbology). Others discount Ixchel as the goddess pictured with the moon. I think the discrepancy may have to do with age. As mentioned earlier, gods and goddesses are sculpted according to the needs and perspectives of the people.
Water as a Mayan Symbol:
Ixchel is often seen with a pail or a jug, presumably holding water. In her more maiden-like visage, Ixchel is said to pour out her healing rains upon the land, and extol blessings, insuring abundant provisions to the community. Vessels are also symbolic of the womb, and Ixchel portrayed with a pitcher would imply her role as midwife and/or doting mother/grandmotherly type to newborns within the community .
Crossbones as a Mayan Symbol of Ixchel:
Bones crossed in an “x” is Mayan symbol of foreboding. Crossbones are a mortal Mayan symbol calling upon the concept of crossroads, which are considered ominous locations. Bones crossed are symbolic of a juxtaposition between god/man, life/death, dark/light, etc. – there is a “meeting of duality” in this crossed bone gesture.
Rainbow Mayan Symbol:
Mayans were a primarily agricultural group, and so we see rain plays a vital role in their community, beliefs and consciousness. So, anything resembling or having to do with rain will be a remarkably important icon. Clouds were especially revered, and consulted as auguries (namely, seeking optimal agricultural cues).
As always, thanks for reading. I hope these insights were enlightening on your journey into Mayan symbols and goddess symbols. May all your Mayan encounters be inspiring. -Avia
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