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HISTORY

Ixchel, the Mayan goddess worshiped by all women who wish to become mothers

The goddess Ixchel, is venerated and loved by all those who dream of giving life. This is her story.

The Mayan culture is always fascinating for all that it implies, including customs, traditions and clearly, mythology; among all the gods already known and venerated, is Ixchel.

Known as the goddess of the Moon, from there comes her power and her gifts, she governs everything related to the cycles of the moon such as water, fertility, harvests, pregnancy, childbirth, as well as love and sexuality. But also as the patroness of textiles, painting, arts and medicine.

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Although she was known as the goddess of life, also on her negative side, she could send floods, diseases and spells.

The Legend of Goddess Ixchel

One of the legends for which Ixchel is said to be the goddess of the Moon goes back to when she fell in love with Itzamná, the god of the Sun, with whom she lived a great love until one day a prince from another empire appeared and fell in love with her.

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Ixchel’s sister, Ixtab, not knowing of the love that existed between Ixchel and Itzamná, to solve the problem proposed that they would face each other in a fight to the death and the survivor would keep his sister’s love.

The men began the fight and just when Itzamná was about to defeat the prince, he treacherously wounded him and died. Ixchel, seeing how her beloved died, took her own life.

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It is said that Itzamná's soul was elevated to heaven and became the god of the Sun and he married Ixchel in heaven, which made Ixchel become the goddess of the Moon.

Itzamná also made the night shine, thanks to the stars and since then they are brighter. The legend also tells that the maidens who die at an early age, ascend to the heavens to shine for eternity.

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In addition, it is also said that in each new fire, the goddess Ixchel is reborn and allows the maidens (the stars) to fall in love and from the fruit of that love they give birth to a son.

On the other hand, there is another legend that tells that Ixchel was weaving when she attracted the gaze of Itzamná, god of the Sun, with whom she married and had two children. Yum Kaax, god of wild plants and animals relevant to hunters and farmers to protect their harvest from predators; and Ek Chuah, the god of cocoa, of war and patron of merchants.

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It is also said that other of his sons were gods of sacrifices and of the stars; while his daughters were the goddesses of the waters, of the night and of paradise.

How does Goddess Ixchel look like?

According to the Neomexicanismos website, Ixchel was known in different ways, according to her attributes, for example in the Chilam Balam she is called Ix Chel (rainbow woman), in other writings Chak Chel (big rainbow), Sak U’ Ixik (Lady White Moon), Ix Chebel Yax (Lady of the First Brush) or Sinal in her invocation of Goddess of childbirth whose meaning alludes to the capacity to give birth.

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For that same duality, Ixchel could be appreciated in some paintings as a beautiful woman accompanied by a rabbit or as an old woman emptying water canticles on the earth causing storms, curses and devastation on the Earth.

In her evil aspect she was represented as an old woman surrounded by symbols of the Xibalba (the Mayan underworld) such as skulls and demonic beings, as well as a snake coiled around her neck and coming out of her head; while her feet were claws.

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While on her kind side, she was represented weaving with a backstrap loom, of which she was the creator and was therefore associated with the spider, her weaving was the thread of life, the umbilical thread and symbolized her placenta.

The veneration of the goddess Ixchel

According to the same website, The celebrations of this important Mayan goddess of the moon were held between August 21 to September 13, under her invocation of goddess of medicine and fertility.

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It is said that at the moment of childbirth, all those who venerated her placed a statuette of Ixchel under the bed of the newborn.

The Sacred Mayan Journey

Currently, the Sacred Mayan Journey takes place, a unique experience that keeps alive one of the oldest traditions of Quintana Roo, the pilgrimage that, year after year, Mayan canoeists rowed to the island of Cozumel ‘Dcuzamil’ from the Port of Polé (today Xcaret) to worship the goddess Ixchel, where one of the most important temples dedicated to her is located.

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The pilgrims, who can be both men and women, embark on an open sea voyage of several hours with the purpose of voluntarily worshiping the goddess Ixchel, some with the intention of asking her for favors related to fertility.

It is said that in ancient times, the pilgrims were mostly women and girls, and they went to visit Ixchel at least twice in their lives, the first visit as a child in the company of her mother and the second as a mother with her daughter. They would arrive with offerings of flowers and food as well as various figurines representing the goddess.

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Ixchel, was one of the most important goddesses for the Mayan culture, so much so that her power is still evident today, there are several stories that indicate that all those women who cannot conceive, after making the Mayan Bleeding Journey, have been able to get pregnant... even twins.

Story originally published by Cultura Colectiva in Spanish.

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