Ixchel (pronounced ee-shell) is a Mayan goddess of the moon, water and the earth.
Her name is said to translate to mean “Lady Rainbow”. She is a Mother Goddess associated with fertility and procreation and was one of the most important deities in the Mayan pantheon. Ixchel is the consort of Itzamna who is the sky God and together they had thirteen boys.
Ixchel has been portrayed in two different aspects, one of an aged woman and one as a young girl.
In her aged aspect as a midwife she is called “Red Rainbow”. This refers to a time when she brought about a great flood to bring in the New Year. Ixchel carried a jug of water and poured it over the earth which caused it to rain. This spurred a great flood which caused much destruction. This flood brought in a new age. In this aspect she is shown as an elderly woman with the headdress of a snake and the claws of a jaguar.
Ixchel is also a goddess of the moon and was called “She of the Pale Face” relating it to the pale color of the moon.
In this aspect she is shown seated with a rabbit. When the Mayans gazed upon the moon they saw the shape of a rabbit. They viewed rabbits as good luck and connected to fertility. So naturally they also connected them to Ixchel, their moon goddess. Historians still aren’t sure if these two goddesses were in fact separate from each other or aspects of Ixchel.
Ixchel had a sanctuary at Cozumel and in the 16th century women were said to visit her there to pray for a fulfilling marriage.
Evidence of her worship was also found on Isla Mujeres or “The Island of Women”. On the province of Acalan, Ixchel was venerated as the main deity.
On your altar to Ixchel, have a representation of the moon, water, colors of the rainbow, sandalwood incense, a figure or artwork of a rabbit and crystals of moonstone or quartz.
Have you ever worked with Ixchel?
– Painting courtesy of David Nathan Allen