Mayan god Symbols
Mayan Symbols of the Goddess Ixchel
Ixchel is a Mayan goddess - we know that for sure, but her roles within the Mayan structure of divine rites are complicated.
As a community changes and grows - particularly when the collective progress is swift and massive, the gods and goddesses of the community have to change with its people. Ergo, Ixchel's divine representations and purposes may have required tailoring as the needs of her people evolved.
In other words, we see Ixchel's role morphing through the rapid 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.
The Mayan goddess Ixchel held down many jobs during her tour of duty as a goddess among the Mayan regime. Here are a few...
Important Roles of the Mayan Goddess Ixchel
- Moon Goddess
- Water Goddess
- Female Warrior
- Matron of Midwifery
- Fertility Goddess
- Earth Goddess
- Crone - Death Goddess
- Patroness of Weaving
- Deity of Divination
- Healing Deity
A little overwhelming, isn't it? It's good to know gods and goddesses are unlimited. They cannot be bound to conventionalism. Their identifications are dependent upon one thing, and one thing only: Human perception.
Ixchel has held many titles and executed many divine edicts over her reign. So, when we discover her with our modern minds, it's hard to pin point her "prime-root" - her primary functions - because she's been so versatile in the ancient ways.
I find exploring the goddess symbol meanings associated with Ixchel provides a more broad understanding of her personality. Even though her purpose and functions morphed throughout the Mayan generations, her symbols were relatively resolute in their meanings. For example, the (a goddess symbol associated with Ixchel) remained pretty consistent within the collective understanding of the Mayans. Even if Ixchel's persona shifted from benevolent mother to intolerant crone...the meaning behind Ixchel'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.
That said, let's take a look at the goddess symbols that have adorned and are associated with Ixchel...
Common Mayan Symbols of the Goddess Ixchel
Serpent as a Mayan Symbol:
There is perhaps no other creature of higher popularity among the Mayan culture than the snake. Well, maybe jaguars and eagles ranked equal or higher, but the serpent is an undeniably profound centerpiece in the Mayan's symbolic nobility. Why? Three reasons: 1) Serpents swallow their prey whole, and that is big magic. In this act, the serpent illustrates the potential of metamorphosis. We (the "modern" human) may see it as swallowing, digesting and then pooping. But, the Mayans saw it as totally transforming a body (snake food) - causing a whole body to disappear completely. 2) The serpent's mouth is symbolic of a gaping void, or an open cave. This underscores the idea that 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. Here again, the modern mind may only see a snake unhinging it's jaw to stuff a tasty meal down it's maw, but we must recognize Mayan's mentality as elsewhere in time-space. 3) 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. All three of these themes are germane to Ixchel's many roles in the community. Whether a midwife goddess or a water goddess, the snake is a Mayan symbol of great import, and denotes special powers of metamorphosis pertaining to Ixchel. In short, the serpent of Ixchel 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. Serpents are also associated with the earth according to Mayan wisdom, and therefore reinforces Ixchel's role as an earth goddess. Read more about .