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Is Ixchel a Modern Maya Goddess?


Ixchel with her Rabbit

Well, this blog posts asks for your thoughts. It’s a curious one, an unexpected one. It is about the goddess Ixchel and my delving into her energy and getting local to explore her magic in the Maya communities.


After spending countless hours researching the ancient things about Ixchel, reading academic papers by archeologists and anthropologists, pouring over ancient Maya art and digging up the legends about this goddess, I ventured into the heart land of the Maya world on the Yucatan Peninsula to see what the local people have to say. Because after all, isn’t the most important part of knowing this ancient entity understanding who she is to the local people today?


Or is it?


My first encounter with someone who wanted to share a personal story was in a charming Maya food restaurant on the edge of a tiny Maya pueblo. The server was happy to share with me how his grandmother worked with Ixchel in the process of birthing her children.


He said that she asked Ixchel for help for easy childbirth. She had all her children at home, and that she brought offerings to Ixchel. He said everything went beautifully for his grandmother and that Ixchel was very real and very important as a fertility goddess. I asked what was offered to the goddess. In thanks, after each child was born, the umbilical cord was offered!


Ixchel in her Maiden form

I spoke to several other Maya residents and asked what they could tell me about Ixchel. Each one agreed that she was very real, very important, and was the goddess of fertility. The locals said she helped women get pregnant and helped with child delivery. I asked if she also brought rain (one of the things all the ancient texts agree she is responsible for) and the answer was, “No. Ixchel was responsible for fertility and Chaac was the god of rain.”


After several weeks of gathering stories from peoples who are descended from the ancient Maya, I finally was able to spend some time talking with Don Francisco, our shaman, about this lovely and powerful goddess.

I simply began with an open ended question, “What can you tell me about the goddess Ixchel?”


Don Francisco began by saying, “She is still here.”


He speaks with an easy authority, very matter of fact. When he says something, you can feel its power. I believe him. I do believe that Ixchel is not a story from the past, but an important figure who works actively in the lives of Maya families to this day.

However, when I asked about some of the things Ixchel is responsible for according to the ancient text, like storms in particular, since in one of the most important drawings of her she is pouring water from a pot that is said to be storms poured on the earth, again I was informed that Ixchel is only involved with fertility. (picture from the Dresden codex)


When I asked about rain, Don Francisco told me about rituals that are done to honor the god Chaac. He went very deep into the details of how to connect with this god whose is so life giving to the Maya. He then told me that Ixchl is in no way associated with storms or rain.


According to this generational and powerful shaman, Ixchel is the goddess of fertility. She is active and powerful and very important. But her domain is relegated only to fertility.


Hmmm. This is contrary to the ancient texts. In the ancient texts she is also the goddess of weaving, of medicine, of destruction, and of storms (among other things).


So, the question becomes, “Does one connect with a goddess in the way of the ancient texts, or in the way of the modern people?”


I will throw a few thoughts out there. I am curious to hear yours!


After years of living so close to Maya magic, feeling is power, and experiencing things firsthand, I do believe these entities are very real. I personal do not see them as ideals or concepts, but as real beings who have a tangible impact on people’s lives. And so when Don Francisco explains to me that Ixchel is still here, I take him at his word.


Because the local people connect with Ixchel as a fertility goddess, I put a lot of weight in this aspect of this ancient deity. People are actively connecting with her on this front, giving her offerings and seeing answers to their requests.


Because Don Francisco says that she is not in any way connected to the rain, even though she is traditionally thought of as being a goddess of storms, I think it might be interesting to see if the pitcher she is pouring from is supposed to be filled with storms, or is it possibly something else? This could be an interesting follow up question.


Maybe this goddess is not currently moving in other realms besides fertility. I think there is a strong possibility that if she were, the local people would feel that since they are so deeply and profoundly connected to the ancient ways. Don Francisco is an herbal healer and knows the medicinal purposes of virtually every plant in the jungle. I think if Ixchel were still being called on to assist with medicine, he would be very much aware of this too.


I also wonder if, even though the locals no longer connect with her as a goddess of healing or a goddess of rain, is it possible to dig into that aspect of her and find a fire still burning there? Perhaps that part of her is still active?


Since I do very much believe the goddess is real and the connection between the Maya and this deity is very strong, I don’t think that pop culture defines who this goddess is. There seems to be a lot of new interest in Ixchel, especially with the movement into the age of the divine feminine. But I feel like it is not powerful to follow pop culture ideas. I want to connect with something deep, powerful, and tangible.


Perhaps the more ancient attribute of this goddess will resurface. Perhaps, because the energy of the Maya shifted in 2011/2012 to the divine feminine, she will gradually take her full place again.


It is an interesting path to think on.


What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!


Wondering, feeling, and following

laura






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