Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Ix Chel Mayan Goddess

With all the talk of the Mayan calender at the moment I wanted to look into a goddess of the Mayan people.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change  invoked the goddess in her opening remarks in Cancun on 29 November 2010, calling her “the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving. May she inspire you — because today, you are gathered in Cancun to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change, using both reason and creativity as your tools.”

Figueres went on to say: “Excellencies, the goddess Ixchel would probably tell you that a tapestry is the result of the skilful interlacing of many threads. I am convinced that 20 years from now, we will admire the policy tapestry that you have woven together and think back fondly to Cancun and the inspiration of Ixchel.”
Ix Chel pronounced "ee shell", (sometimes spelled Ixchel), may be the greatest of the Mayan goddesses. She is depicted as maiden, mother and crone. Ix Chel is a goddess of waters, of the earth, of the moon, and matron of weavers and artisans. She was known as Lady Rainbow, Mother Earth, Womb, She of the Pale Face and The Cave of Life. She has a role to play in the "2012 arena" as Mother Earth transitions into the '5th Sun' of the Maya Long Count calendar. 

Photo Source http://www.thaliatook.com/AMGG/ixchel.html
Here she is shown in her three aspects left to right Chak Chel The old Moon Goddess called the midwife of creation Ix Chel in her main form as Mother Goddess and weaver who sets the universe in motion and the Young Moon Goddess shown with her totem animal the rabbit.

In her youthful form, she's the goddess of fertility, midwifery, medicine, childbirth, weaving and rainbows. Ix Chel is a moon goddess and, appropriately, her domain in the land of the Maya is the Caribbean coast where a temple built to her is still a destination for pilgrims who visit her island of Cozumel. 

Photo Source http://traveltips.usatoday.com/

Photo Source http:/www.panoramio.com
Mothers and daughters made pilgrimage to her temple on Cozumel, known as the "Island of Women", off the eastern coast of Mexico. At her sacred temple, she was worshipped on the 6th day of the moon with a special ceremony that honoured and celebrated her powers of medicine and magic. 

In her myths, Ix Chel was married, but she came and went as she pleased and had other lovers. When she got fed up with the jealousy of her lovers, she made herself invisible to them and spent her nights assisting women in childbirth. As protector of mothers and children, she is often depicted as a maiden with a rabbit, a symbol of fertility and abundance across the world. 

The Young Moon Goddess may have originally been a different Goddess of the Moon who was later absorbed into Ix Chel's legend. She is often depicted with a rabbit, for the Maya, like the Chinese, saw a rabbit in the markings on the face of the Moon. 

Ix Chel is a great Water Goddess, the consort of the chief God of the Maya pantheon, Votan. Her name means "Lady Rainbow", and She is said to have founded the city of Palenque at the command of the Gods. She is a Weaver Goddess, whose whirling drop spindle is said to be at the center of the motion of the Universe. She has many aspects and titles, such as Ix Kanleom, the "Spider's Web Catching the Morning Dew".

Photo Source http://www.sacredsource.com/ 

Ix Chel is a great Water Goddess, the consort of the chief God of the Maya pantheon, Votan. Her name means "Lady Rainbow", and She is said to have founded the city of Palenque at the command of the Gods. She is a Weaver Goddess, whose whirling drop spindle is said to be at the center of the motion of the Universe. She has many aspects and titles, such as Ix Kanleom, the "Spider's Web Catching the Morning Dew".

In her dark aspects, she is depicted as a crone wearing a skirt with crossed bones carrying a serpent and a jug of water. The serpent assisted her in the role of keeper of the cycles of life and death, keeper of female sexuality, and goddess of magic and medicine. Serpents symbolize regeneration, cycles, and the power of sexuality in magic and medicine. With her jug of water, Ix Chel would pour rainstorms and floods onto the land to destroy, cleanse and make way for rebirth.

Chak Chel, "Great (or Red) Rainbow" is the Goddess who brings about the destruction of the third creation by causing a great flood. By pouring the waters from her jar, she prepared the way for the next age, known in Maya legend as the Fourth Sun. She is shown as an old midwife, for experienced elderly women helped younger women to give birth, and were traditionally caretakers of children. Chak Chel also helped the Maize God to be reborn, and helped in the birth of His own sons. 

During ancestral times, pregnant Maya women would paddle to the island to beseech Ix Chel's blessings for a healthy happy family. Linguistically, Cozumel connects us to the honey bees and the sweetness of fertility. "Mel" is the root word that refers to honey in several languages. The Greek word, "mele" means bee priestess and in Spanish the word 'miel' translates as honey. Indeed, Cozumel was known to be a lush place where the honey bees thrived. Disappearing bees have now captured our attention and the sacred Mayan bees called Melapona are 'characters' in the 2012 drama that we're experiencing. Amazing bees without stingers & their honey is used to cure cataracts! Watch out for wrathful goddesses! Recently, hurricanes in the Yucatan have decimated jungle areas where honey bees always visited flowers to find nectar and pollen.

Isla Mujeres is another place with a Temple of Ix Chel. This beautiful island, lies about 10 miles north east of Cancun  at what is essentially the most eastern tip of Mexico. The island gained its name (English Translation: Island of Women) because the Spanish found a great many carved images of women on the island. These carvings were the product of the Mayan worship of the goddess Ix Chel. The Mayans built a temple to the Goddess Ix Chel at the South-eastern most tip of the island and within this temple they incorporated an observatory. Ix Chel was the Mayan Goddess of the Moon and was closely associated with the sophisicated Mayan astronomical readings taken here and elsewhere. The remnants of the temple are still there. 

Photo Source http://www.cancundays.com

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This is the most easterly point in Mexico. One of the reasons it was so important to the Mayans. The temple was also used as a lighthouse, used to guide mayan seafarers through the darkness to the island or help them on their way to nearby ports like Tulum. 

Ix Chel roles within the Mayan structure of divine rites was complicated. As the goddesses of a community she had to change with her people and the 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. Deity of Healing & Divination, Patroness of Weaving and Goddess of Earth and Crone of death have all been functions she has performed.

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 Ix Chel) remained pretty consistent within the collective understanding of the Mayans. Even if Ix Chel's persona shifted from benevolent mother to intolerant crone...the meaning behind Ix Chel'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.

Photo Source http://www.bonanza.com Ix Chel in Chiapas Mexico

The serpent is an undeniable centrepiece in the Mayan's symbolic nobility. As they swallow their prey whole, which is considered big magic, the Mayans saw it as totally transforming a body (snake food) - causing a whole body to disappear completely. The serpent illustrates the potential of metamorphosis. The serpent's mouth is symbolic of a gaping void, or an open cave. Whatever the snake consumes whole, that object enters a vast mystery and will be forever altered by entering the "dark cave" of the serpent's mouth.

Serpents are associated with the sky in Mayan wisdom. In fact, we see countless depictions of snakes with feathered wings in ancient ruins. With their connection with the sky, serpents are divine. In this way, they are also connected with water because rain falls from the skies, and snakes are sky creatures. With these three points, we see themes of: Transformation, Initiation, Divine Communication. 

Therefore the serpent of Ix Chel is a Mayan symbol of complete alteration of the mind, body and spirit. It encourages the adept to take the first step, enter the serpent cave, be consumed and come from the digestive process completely changed. There is also a connection between the initiate and a newborn child. The first breath of new life in this world is further step in transformation - something of which the snake is wholly symbolic. 

Photo Source http://www.womenofgrace.com

Serpents are also associated with the earth according to Mayan wisdom, and therefore reinforces Ix Chel's role as an earth goddess.

Some scholars identify her confidently in certain ruins, holding a rabbit (which is often synonymous with the moon in Mayan symbology). In fact, there are artifacts that could legitimately portray Ix Chel with the moon - but in these portrayals, Ix Chel is a crone. Although the moon is a Mayan symbol of regeneration (birth), it also carries with it themes of withdrawal, shadows, time and mystery. The moon works her powers under the cloak of night, and whatever schemes she works out is a mystery to mankind. 

Invading tribes, failed crops, terminal illnesses - these can easily be attributed to the moon(goddess) and the dark plans she weaves in shadow where no one can see or understand what she's doing, or why. As an old goddess - a hard-lined, fiendish-looking crone - Ix Chel manipulates darker forces which explain the darker events of the Mayan culture. 

In this lunar light, Ixchel is still a transformer (as the moon is a Mayan symbol of transformation too), but she is also a justifier. The moon is symbolic of the unseen aspects of existence, and only an elderly goddess like Ix Chel has the experience and wherewithal to see the shadows of life and manipulate them in a way to restore balance. War, famine, death - these are manifestations of Ix Chel's manipulations "behind the scenes." Ix Chel's crone aspect is also linked with her role as the tapestry-maker. She is weaving consequences behind the scenes because only she can see in the shadow, so only she can adequately connect cause with effect.

Ix Chel is often seen with a pail or a jug, presumably holding water. In her more maiden-like visage, Ix Chel 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 Ix Chel portrayed with a pitcher would imply her role as midwife and/or doting mother/grandmotherly type to newborns within the community . Water is also a life-giver (insuring survival of the community, continuation of agriculture). Her association with water would lend further credence to Ix Chel's role as a life-bringer, a midwife, and the goddess of childbearing. Water is symbolic of cleansing and healing, which would support Ix Chel's younger (more beautiful) role as a healing deity. 

Photo Source http://archaeology.about.com/od/mayaarchaeology Ix Chel as Young Moon Goddess

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. Bones were often left at crossroad sites as a gesture to discard contaminants. Crossbones have been identified as adornments on the Ix Chel's clothing (in some of her renditions). This would imply she could be a sin-eater of sorts. It may also suggest Ix Chel morphed into a warrior goddess at some point in the Mayan culture. She has been seen holding a spear and a shield too. These Mayan symbols along with crossbones might reinforce a vengeful attitude, and would suggest Ix Chel as fully capable of reaping shrewd judgement in times of tribal war.

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). Rainbows would have been very powerful Mayan symbols because they are associated with rain, which is a life-giver. Rainbows were guideposts to the Mayans, and were considered to be oracles of renewal, life and an appeased status among divine moods. This ties in nicely with Ix Chel's function as a divinatory goddess. Further, there were members in the Mayan community with specialized ability to interpret deeper meaning from rainbows. Ix Chel would have been called upon to aid in interpreting a rainbow's portent. This lends creed to Ix Chel's role as a consulted goddess of divination. Or, better said, Ix Chel would have been a gateway into divine knowing. She would have been responsible for sending rainbows to the Mayan people as a symbol of life and renewal. Lastly, as a Mayan symbol of life, the rainbow is a common-sense feature associated with Ix Chel in her role as divine midwife.

The Mayan Symbols of Ix Chel was sourced from http://www.whats-your-sign.com

As an aged woman, Ix Chel is usually portrayed with a serpent headdress, a skirt adorned with crossed bones, and jaguar claws instead of hands. It has been proposed that the two variants correspond to different aspects of the moon: the old Ix Chel is connected with the full moon, and its waning aspect, and the young Ix Chel is connected with the crescent moon.

Dragonflies are shamanically associated with Ix Chel. Did she create a mystical Dragonfly Crop Circle to convey her presence in the '2012 arena'? Interestingly, the date of June '3' 2009 suggests that we had 3 years until 2012. In ancient times, the goddesses were recognized as essential aspects of nature, as integral to Earth as clouds, stars, and flowers. According to the Maya Long Count, we're completing a 5,125 year cycle of time called the '4th Sun'. At the onset of this era, according to archeological evidence, the goddess cultures began to be destroyed. Today, on the cusp of the '5th Sun', certain significant goddesses such as Ix Chel are making themselves known. We are wise to 'feed the holies' as did our ancestors in the times when life was in balance.

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