Ixchel or Ix Chel (pronounced as [iʃˈtʃel]) is the Maya goddess mostly connected with medicine, fertility and pregnancy and therefore she is considered to be the guardian of doctors, midwives, healers and shamans. She is associated with the moon (particularly its waning phase), earth, water especially in the form of rain, weaving, divination and war. Her name probably comes from the stem ‘chel’ meaning rainbow, it was written with a pictogram signifying ‘red’ and that is why she is called Lady of the Rainbow.
Not many myths about her remained until recent times. According to one of the legends she was married to Itzamna and had thirteen sons with him, two of them were the creators of heaven and earth. In another version she is the wife of earth god Voltan. There is also the legend which claims that she created the world together with Feathered Serpent. However I have found a certain significant story about her which I am presenting basing on the information found on the pages: http://www.goddessgift.com/goddess-myth … x-chel.htm and http://www.crystalinks.com/mayangods.html.
As a young girl Ixchel was so beautiful that all the gods fell in love with her except one, Kinich Ahau, the sun god, whom she really cared for. She was staring at the sparkling golden lover but the longer she was chasing after him the worse weather was becoming: tides were rising creating floods which inuaded the lands and destroyed crops. However Ixchel blinded by love and staring at the sun did not even realize how serious damages she was provoking. Being a talented weaver she finally found the way to Kinich Ahau’s heart by offering him a beautiful shirt. They soon became lovers and four jaguar gods were born from this union. Each of them was unseen during the night and each got one side of the world to protect and to bear the pillars of the world.
Unfortunately, the relationship with the sun god made Ixchel’s grandfather very angry. In rage he threw the thunder which struck the goddess killing her immediately. She was lying dead for 183 days until hundreds of dragonflies* gathered on her body and began to sing to resurrect her. Ixchel came back to the sun god’s palace but the time of torments has not finished yet. Her lover was impulsive and obsessed with jealousy so he wrongly accused the goddess of romancing with his brother the Morning Star and threw her out of the sky. She found a shelter among the vulture gods but when Kinich Ahau heard about it he hurried to beg her forgiveness and promised to treat her well this time. She agreed and at first all seemed to be good but then the sun god became suspicious, jealous and aggressive again. This made Ixchel realize he would never change and she decided to leave him forever. To avoid any further harassment she waited till he fell asleep and slipped from the palace. She then took the form of a jaguar and became invisible so no matter how hard Kinich Ahau was searching for her he was not able to find her. Ixchel herself went to live in her island Cozumel where she was taking care of pregnant women and those who were in labour.
She was mostly worshipped on the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres. On Cozumel there are many evidences of women’s pilgrimages aiming to ask the goddess for good marriages and offspring. Ruins of her temples remained till modern times and it is considered that the priests hidden in a huge statue were announcing the messages of the oracle. The second island was famous for small statues of the goddess which were left there as a thank you gift. They were so numerous that Hernandez de Cordoba, a Spanish conquistador, called this place Isla Mujeres meaning ‘The Island of Women’. Ixchel was also worshipped in Acalan and not much is known about the specific cult but there is a supposition that certain rituals were taking place during the sixth day of the moon phase and after childbirth when a woman was having a bath.
IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS
She was presented as an old woman with the ears of a jaguar or a serpent entwined around her head and sometimes she had claws instead of feet and hands. Jaguars and serpents together with eagles were the most important animals for the Maya because a powerful and persistent jaguar was able to tresspass the barrier between the world of the day and the night** while a serpent crawling on the soil and shedding its skin was the symbol of earth (as it was already mentioned in the blog entry about Gaia a serpent symbolizes wisdom, life cycles and renewal, you can also read about the sign of Ouroboros ). As a guardian of women and children she was also depicted with a rabbit, the symbol of fertility and large families.
One of her symbols was an inverted jug resembling a womb and thus being the symbol of menstruation, dryness and the time of growing old (similarly to the waning phase of the moon). An inverted jug was also the symbol of rain and rainy season therefore Ixchel was considered to cause floods. Crossed bones were traditionally attributed to her and she was believed to wear a skirt with this image which was a connection with the world of the dead and had purifying abilities (e.g. when someone died because of plague their bones were put on the crossroads to make the disease go away from people’s homes). Ixchel also carried a spear and a shield during wars.
This card may show a grandmother or an older woman. In positive meaning this is a woman who is satisfied and feels accomplished in all the phases of her life, she is not afraid of challenges and rejects outside pressure. She is comprehensive and wise through experience. She supports her loved ones in difficult moments and protects her family. In negative meaning this card represents a young woman who gets involved in the relationship with a man without thinking and then she is abused by him.
Professions: doctor, nurse, midwife, paramedic, farmer, geologist, meteorologist, weaver, taylor, embroidery person, athlete, warrior, fortuneteller.
Take good care of your health, remember you cannot exploit your body forever. Spend more time with your family, especially with children. Search for support of an older woman (possibly your grandmother). A physical or mental abuse may be involved in this situation. If you are considering starting studies connected with medicine or midwifery this card confirms it is a good choice. Be careful and conscientous to avoid accidents.
If you are in a relationship: if you remain in the relationship which gives you neither emotional fulfillment nor safety this card says clearly it is high time to quit it.
If you are single: do not start a relationship just to avoid being alone. It is probable that you will care more about this union than your partner. Beware of abuse in relationship. Make sure that a short – lived romance will not result in an unexpected pregnancy.
Possible expences connected with the pregnancy. Possible closing of transaction, purchase of the land, house or other long-term investment. Check carefully the contract before signing it because you may overlook or misunderstand something.
For a young woman it may signify pregnancy and childbirth while for an older one it predicts menopause. In the spread it ALWAYS suggests consulting the doctor. When it appears at the end of the spread concerning health, it suggests recovery and successful childbirth. Endangered parts of the body: reproductive organs (ovaries, Fallopian tubes, utero, cervix, vagina), skeletal system, divestive system, circulatory system. Possible disorders in menstruating.
Ixchel appears in four decks but none of her images is really consistent with the original Maya renderings (no inverted jug, no crossed bones skirt, no jaguar ears and no older woman on any of them except of Hrana Janto and Sandra M. Stanton’s paintings!).
Ixchel in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton
Ixchel in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky (I wouldn’t attribute creativity to Ixchel as my first choice but I like the image especially its details, pay attention to her dragonfly earrings).
Ixchel with a jaguar in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock
Ixchel in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue
Ixchel in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé (but why with a falcon and not with a jaguar or a serpent?)
Ixchel in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason
Computer game and Wagnerian Valkirya-like Ixchel in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton
*Dragonflies as the name speaks itself are connected with dragons and serpents in many cultures.
**The Maya people believed that the day belonged to people and the visible world while the night was the realm of their ancestors’ ghosts.
I used the information found on English wikipedia and the following pages:
http://www.pantheon.org/articles/i/ixchel.html , http://www.whats-your-sign.com/mayan-sy … xchel.html ,
http://www.answers.com/topic/ixchel , http://www.orderwhitemoon.org/goddess/Ixchel.html ,
http://thebasicsofanything.com/ixchel-f … rain-fores