Mayan Goddess Ixchel Symbols
As a spiritual people, the Mayans had their fair share of important and powerful gods. Goddess Ixchel, however, was undoubtedly one of the most substantial goddesses with diverse and complicated roles. Befittingly, she is the goddess of both fertility and healing light, as “ix” means feminine and “chel” refers to rainbows and/or light. She is also associated with bodies of water, particularly those that are fluid, and also any place that people could see a rainbow. As both a water and a feminine symbol, Ixchel is also the Mayan goddess of the moon.
Ixchel the mother is pictured in several distinct ways that are sometimes combined into a single image. One of these depictions shows her as a serpent, while others show her in a slightly softer light, such as a rainbow. The moon, and, more simply, water flowing from an upside-down vessel are other popular symbols of her. Each of these depictions comes with its own set of meanings which are described in detail below.
Mayan Ixchel Symbol : Serpent
One of the most common symbols of Ixchel comes in the form of a serpent wearing a skirt and crossbones. With her pottery vessel, this goddess provides the Earth and all of its life with nourishment through the gift of water. This is the most essential life-giving element, so the Mayans praised her greatly for this gesture. When Ixchel is drawn as a woman, she can also have a snake propped upon her head. In many cultures around the world, the snake is associated with medicine and healing powers. Thus, Ixchel is also the ultimate healer and provides us with the medicinal plants that we require to survive ailments on Earth.
When the bones are crossed on their own, though, the Mayan symbol for Ixchel is much less pleasant and reassuring. Rather, it is a foreboding symbol denoting a crossroads between ominous locations that could end in fatality. It is a meeting place for all of the dualities that the Mayans recognized: gods and men, life and death, and dark and light. The crossbones were also frequently shown on Ixchel’s clothing, probably to imply her godliness: she could both absolve and punish all sins. This symbol denotes the potential for a vengeful and vicious attitude which this goddess was fully capable of exercising. Perhaps warriors donned this emblem during times of war. Read about Celtic warrior symbols.
Mayan Goddess Ixchel Symbol : Moon
When considering the moon interpretation of Ixchel, the Mayans were focusing on maternal and water properties. She is in charge of all of the phases of the moon, which also pertain to the tides, the movement of water, motherhood, the menstrual cycle, fertility, and childbirth. The Mayans even believed that this goddess determined the sex of the child in the womb.
More simply put, Ixchel is the mother of all things. Her pot of water does not only control maternal forces and traits of the moon, but also the weather, to a certain extent. Mayan legend states that mother Ixchel blesses the natural world with rain when she is in a good mood, but punishes humans with floods and hurricanes when she is displeased. However, her focus is first and foremost is help the people of the world by offering her gifts.
Mayan Goddess Ixchel Symbol : Rainbow
Rounding out the list of Ixchel symbolism is the pleasant and delightful rainbow. As an agricultural people, the Mayans recognized the cruciality of rain in their daily lives. Thus, anything concerning rain played a vital role in their symbolic culture. Cloud symbols and rainbows were of particular interest. Rainbows were the bringers of renewal of life after the rain saturated nature. As a divine goddess, Ixchel controlled this most important aspect of life: growth. Furthermore, as the goddess of maternity and childbirth, it makes sense that this colorful symbol of new life would be associated with her, as well. It also helped that rainbows were colorful and beautiful, as it the mother was providing a cherry on top of the sundae.
As we can see, Ixchel was very much a dominating goddess, controlling most of the elements and characteristics of life that people hold dear. It makes sense that she was both feared and worshiped, for her reward could be equally as great as her wrath.