I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
Power Over Life & Death
This Goddess brings us to Mexico and the Ancient Mayan civilisation. The goddess Ixchel is a Moongoddess, a crone, and is in charge of midwifery and medicine. She is a Jaguar Goddess, which symbolises her power over life and death and the magical arts.
During the month of Zip, the ancient Goddess was celebrated for her medicinal powers and shamans and physicians alike would worship her. Usually, each of those people would hold a medicine bag containing small idols of the goddess, as well as divination stones. This shows how closely linked science, magic and psychic practices were linked together in this ancient culture.
It is not certain where the name Ixchel comes from and what it means. If it is from Yucatan, as most archaeologists assume, Chel would mean rainbow or light and Ix goddess of the feminine. In other parts, she is also referred to as the Red Goddess which makes sense in terms of blood being closely linked to the fields of her affiliation, the menstrual cycle, birth and healing, as well as violent death. The rainbow is a sign of life and good fortune, of perfect health and was seen as a good omen. Thus, Ixchel is also known as the Lady of Sacred Light.
As a Moongoddess, Ixchel is symbolised by the waning moon, as she is depicted as an older woman, also called grandmother. It is the time of life when you have gained wisdom and your own physical fertility fades. She is teacher and mentor, a wise woman and great magician and healer. As a midwife, she is also called the bringer of children, not birthing them, but assisting younger women to give birth. Thus, her place in the cycle of life, growth and eventual demise is assured.
Ixchel was also worshipped as the Goddess of war, thus symbolising her age and capacity for death and destruction. She is often depicted with claws and a gaping mouth, suggesting that she is a warrior woman and this also points at cannibalism. Her depiction with a serpent headdress, which symbolises both medicine and intuitive powers, and wearing crossbones also points to this power over healing and destruction. Thus, Ixchel wields power over life and death equally.
As a rain goddess, she is emptying a jar of water, heralding the beginning of the rain season at the end of the year, or the great flood of mythology, which is associated with the end of the world. At the same time, the water represents the umbilical waters, which are a symbol of giving birth and thus explains her association with waters, lakes, rivers and the sea. Thus, Ixchel is a Goddess of the macrocosm and microcosm alike.