March 26, 2013

Ix Chel: Mayan Goddess of Women’s Sexuality

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , , at 4:42 am by Babs

Ix Chel (pronounced EE-SHELL) is the Mayan moon goddess.  She is the mystery and joy of our female sexuality, mother of earth and all life, patroness of the healing arts, weaving, childbirth, and destiny.  She is sometimes called “Lady Rainbow” and is often pictured as a serpent crone wearing a skirt and crossbones.  She carries an upside-down vessel in her hands which represents the nourishing gift of water, our most essential life-giving element.  She wears a serpent on her head representing her transformation from the winter to spring energy – shedding her winter skin in order to blossom anew into spring to a fresh stage in the life cycle.

Goddess 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.  That is, all but one.  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.

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 Ahay threw her out of the sky.  She 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 (Isle 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.

She is a shape-shifter, consorting with the rabbit in spring (fertility and life-giving abundance).  She is at once a maiden (goddess of fertility and life), a mother (protector of women in childbirth) and a crone.  The serpent reflects her status as a wise woman dispensing healing visions.  She is the keeper of the life cycle, goddess of all new life and keeper of the bones and souls of the dead.

Wife to the high god Izamna, she oversees weaving, medicine, and childbirth.  Like the First Mother, she is a moon goddess who is depicted sitting in a moon sign holding a rabbit.  Ix Chel is a complex Goddess of ancient Mexico.  She was worshipped by the Putun and Yucatec Maya.  The hare was one of Her primary symbols.

In Maya myths She was the angry old woman who emptied the vials of her wrath on the earth, and assisted the serpent in creating the deluge.  Ix Chel was the goddess of floods and cloud bursts, a malevolent deity likely to cause sudden destruction in a tropical storm.  She was the consort of Itzamna and appears as a clawed water goddess, surrounded by the symbols of death and destruction, a writhing serpent on her head and crossbones embroidered on her skirt.

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 ensure 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 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.  She is all of life’s fertility and is the continuation of all life.  She is the mystery and joy of our female sexuality and protector of our children.  She is a healer, the Goddess of Medicine, who knows all of the healing gifts of the Earth and Her children, the plants.  Her flower is the marigold.  Her methods of teaching and healing are by example as She comforts those who are ill or in pain.  She is the energy of all water, our most essential life-giving ingredient.  Nourishing rains and crystal clear rivers are Her gifts.  As the tree of life, milk pours from Her breasts just as blood pours from her womb.

They Mayan stepped pyramid is Ix Chel’s mountain where She reigns as the feathered serpent energy of transformation.  Her totem is the snake which sheds its skin and is continually reborn.  Her lap is the red jaguar throne of authority and power.  She is often shown with a rabbit which symbolizes Her life-giving abundance and fertility.  She is the young Maiden ripe with flowering life as well as the old crone of wisdom, pouring the waters of life from Her cauldron.

She is viewed as creative inspiration for artists and crafts people.  She weaves the web of life and is the matron of weavers and those who make clothing.  The moon is Her symbol and as She moves through the cycles of waxing, full, waning and darkness She mirror’s the mysteries of our women’s bodies and our blood cycles.

Ix Chel Lullaby by Amy Martin

Lady Rainbow, colors sublime

Weaving existence from the sky

You hold for all the cycles of time

Ix Chel, I pledge myself to you.

Living in the ocean wave

In healing plants the lives they save

In the Moon in every phase

Ix Chel, I pledge myself to you.

Making fertile life on Earth

Guiding mysteries of birth

Embracing sex and all pleasure

Ix Chel, I pledge myself to you.

Maiden fair and apocalypse crone

Mother to all, compassionate one

Her promise is of restoration

Ix Chel, I pledge myself to you!

Ix Chel For Modern Times:

Not only does her myth explain the changing of each day but she also teaches us the importance of women’s ability to give birth and to understand their menstrual cycles through the altering phases of the moon.  Her copulation with the rabbit is symbolic of her lunar and reproductive knowledge.  The cycles give an indication of how to deal with the cycles in our own lives.  When the moon is black, plant new seeds for what you want to manifest in your life.  This can also be a time of retreat, reflection and regeneration from everyday life.  When the moon waxes water and nurture your seed and watch its new life.  Do what it takes to manifest what you desire.  When the moon is full, watch your seed grow.  Continue your needed efforts to keep it alive as the dark is when you can harvest and reap the rewards and bask in accomplishment, but share without greed or self-serving motive.  The cycle continues when the moon goes black once again.  This is also true for men to try to understand for their own lives as well as for understanding women.

In addition, Ix Chel teaches people to set boundaries with the uncanny amounts of stress that marriage and relationships can dish out.  We speculate, however unverified, that her changing of consorts happened around the time Ix Chel left the sun’s kingdom.  If your mate is being too irrational or irresponsible towards your feminine nature, ditch them for someone more grounded and caring to achieve your relationship needs.  However, when Ix Chel immediately leaves Itzamna, we see her go to the aid of the vulture divinity and then to women.  We too are to find healing with our animal totems and women when we come out of a pain-staking relationship, job, family debacle, etc.  The current celebrations at the Isla Mujeres show us the necessity for that shared connection with other feminine souls.

Ix Chel’s escape from the sun is also a reminder that once in a while we need to take time for ourselves.  We need our own special time to rest and renew so that we can deal with pressing responsibilities in our lives.  When we take time to go into ourselves, we can come out reborn and ready to take on any challenge that life may give us.  This is true for both sexes.  We need to learn to accept and adapt to the day-to-day as well as life transformations.  If we fight these changes it will only lead to more stress and tension within our lives.  When a perplexing or challenging situation comes to us, we should sit and consider the ways we can view it as a positive thing.  What did we learn from this experience?  It’s quite unrealistic to say we’ll never do something again, but is more palpable to say, “What can I change about myself if this ever happens again?”  We cannot control the actions of others, but we can be strictly mindful of our own.

Great Mesoamerican Goddess Song by Amy Martin

Ometechurtli, Ometechutli, half of cosmic duality.

From you infinite Divine Feminine, all these goddesses come to be.

Cipactli in the primordial ocean

Divided, created reality.

Tonantzin and Cihuacoatl

From you all Earth is embodied.

Chalchiuhtlicue of flowing waters

Rivers running to the sea.

Tlazoteotl consumes all refuse

Honestly accepting.

Xochiquetzal, sex and laughter

Blooms against the springtime sky

Izpapalotl, Sun at zenith

Dark obsidian butterfly.

Coyolxuahqui, strong Moon Goddess

Dismembered, coming back to life.

Malinalxochitl, abandoned wise one

Return and share your intuitive sight.

These holy mothers are of our land

The continent we call our home.

Now is their time to be asserted.

For divine inspiration we needn’t roam.

Suggested Mantra: I am woman!

Suggested Affirmations:

  • I am joyful
  • My big hips are sexy!
  • I am healthy and happy
  • I am alive with sexuality
  • I adore my womanly shape
  • I feel absolutely supercharged
  • My life path reveals itself to me
  • I have abundant energy and vitality


  • Carnelian
  • Coral
  • Agate
  • Brown Jasper
  • Orange Stones

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