Ix Chel

Mayan Goddess of the Moon

As an ancient fertility goddess, Ix-Chel was responsible for sending rain to nourish the crops. When fulfilling that function she was called “Lady Rainbow”.  She helped insure fertility by overturning her sacred womb jar so that the waters would flow.

Though sometimes depicted as a goddess of catastrophe (the woman who stands by as the world floods), many of her myths show her in a more benevolent light—as a goddess who refused to become a victim of oppression.

This was a woman who, when faced with adversity, took charge of her life and turned it around!

Ix-Chel

Ix-Chel was almost too beautiful, this girl with opalescent skin who sat in the skies brushing her shimmering hair for hours on end.  All the gods were captivated by her. All but one, that is.

Kinich Ahau, the Sun God, seemed immune to Ix-Chel’s charms. Yet he was the only one she really ever wanted. For years she had longed for him as she watched him glide across the sky in all his golden splendor.

But the more Ix-Chel followed him around, the worse the weather on earth became. As she chased after him the tides would rise, creating floods that inundated the fields and caused the crops to die. So enamored was she, that Ix-Chel did not even notice the havoc she was causing. 

Like many moon goddesses Ix-Chel was a fine weaver, and it was the beautiful cloth she wove that finally captured Kinich Ahau’s attention. Soon they had become lovers.

Ix-chel goddess of the rainbow

Ix-Chel bore the Sun God four sons. They were the jaguar gods and could creep through the night unseen. They were named for the four directions, and each one was responsible for holding up his corner of the sky.

Unfortunately Ix-Chel’s love affair with the Sun God drew the ire of her disapproving grandfather. In his anger he struck Ix-Chel with lightning, killing her. For the next 183 days she lay lifeless as hundreds of dragonflies surrounded her body and sang to her. Waking suddenly, she returned to the palace of the Sun God.

Their relationship was turbulent—Kinich Ahau had a suspicious nature and was often consumed with jealousy. To make matters worse, he also had a fiery temper. Suspecting that the innocent Ix-Chel was having an affair with his brother (the Morning Star), Kinich Ahau threw her out of the sky.

Ix-chel myth

Ix-Chel quickly found refuge with the vulture gods. Hearing this, Kinich Ahau rushed to plead with her to return and promised never to treat her so poorly again. Little time passed before he became jealous and abusive again.

Finally Ix-Chel realized he was not going to change. She decided to leave him for good. Waiting until he fell asleep, she crept out into the night, taking the form of a jaguar and becoming invisible whenever he came searching for her.

Many nights she spent on her sacred island (Cozumel) nursing women during their pregnancies and childbirth. Ix-Chel, like other moon goddesses, governed women’s reproductive systems so it was quite understandable that she would become the protector of women during pregnancy and labor.

The small Isla Mujeres (“Island of Women”) was devoted to the worship of Ix-Chel. Comfortable with all phases of life, she was honored as the weaver of the life cycle. She protected the fertility of women and was also the keeper of the souls of the dead.

Lady of the Rainbows

Ix-Chel encourages us to acknowledge the negative forces affecting our lives. And she prompts us to assert ourselves fully in the face of physical or emotional violence that would diminish our sense of self.

   
 

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Ix-Chel:
Lady of The Rainbow

 

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