To enter the world of the Maya and their gods can be a little confusing. you must leave behind the modern western concept of a hierarchal structure where the gods are individual or absolutely static beings with individual characteristics. Instead the Mayan gods behave fluidly and often merge with other deities or actually assume a whole array of separate aspects identified with different names and appearances. There is much debate.
My story is about Ix Chel, sometimes depicted as an old woman with jaguar claws and a skirt decorated in crossed bones, carrying an upside down water jug with snakes coming out of her head (Grandmother). The other depiction of her is a young virile female warrior.
Ix Chel is, goddess of the moon, medicine, midwifery, fertility, weaving, rainbows, songs and childbirth. She is protector of lakes, lagoons, cenotes, underground rivers and oceans
Ix Chel is the companion of Itzama (creator of the universe) and with him, produced the four Bacabs*
Ix Chel lives on the Island of Cozumel. It was a place of pilgrimage for the Mayan women as far back as 700 A.D. from as far away as Honduras. Meeting up in Tulum and Xel Ha they would paddle canoes across the 12-mile channel to the island. After spending three days in sauna-like purification huts, they prayed and made offerings – often little straw images of children – at the shrine of their goddess of love and fertility. When Hernan Cortes arrived on Cozumel seeking gold, he desecrated Ix Chel's sanctuary called Tantan, Cuzamil and renamed it San Gervasio, where he placed a cross over her altar. He also left them the gift of small pox which wiped out the inhabitants of the island. But I digress… Ix Chel was said to be fond of sparrows. In Mayan, Cuzamil means place of sparrows. If she was especially happy with an offering, it was said she released sparrows. You can still visit Ix Chel's Sanctuary on the Island of Cozumel. It is now known as San Gervasio.
*Maya deities of the interior of the earth and its water deposits
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