The Goddess Ixchel /Xochiquetzal
Ixchel, "Lady Rainbow" and the wife of the supreme Mayan deity, was the Mother Goddess, the Goddess of the Moon, and the Goddess of Medicine. Over the ages, her roles changed and she was transformed by time and adopted by the Aztec, who called her Xochiquetzal. Lady Xochiquetzal was the Goddess of love, fertility, flowers and pleasure; the Goddess of the fruitful and flowering surface of the earth. She was the first mother of twins in the cosmic order. She had many duties: Xochiquetzal was the patron of weavers and other fine crafts, and guardian of pregnancy, childbirth and young mothers. She was an intimate friend of Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent. Unlike other gods and goddesses, Xochiquetzal never aged, and her beauty never faded.
Lord and Lady Begin To Dance
During the Aztec festival in the honor of Xochiquetzal, a beautiful young woman was chosen by craftsmen and artisans to represent the goddess. This young woman was sacrificed by the priests and flayed. Her skin was worn by a man who sat at a loom and pretended to weave, while the craftsmen danced around her/him in animal costumes. The ceremony was then completed when the worshippers engaged in bloodletting and then had a ritual bath. To our modern sensibilities, this seems unbearably cruel, but to the ancient Maya, the offering of blood and life seemed to be the only suitable gift for their gods, for had not the gods themselves given their own lives to create the world? Once again, we cannot judge another age with the values of our own; only observe....and learn..
The idea of Xochiquetzal was so appealing that she lasted down through the age of the Aztec, through the terrible times of the Spanish Conquest, and even into modern times. As the symbol of the earth, Xochiquetzal is still honored by offerings of marigolds in graveyards on the Day of the Dead in Mexico.
The image of Xochiquetzal at the top of the page, and also on our home page, (both greatly altered with "artistic license" to fit both her ancient association with red and yellow flowers and the design colors of this site) were provided by Thomas H Frederiksen at Student Teacher Resource Center . Tom relates that the original image was found on a calendar page in a gas station in Mexico, and states " It is a little 'cheesecakey' but it does reflect that the deities of old are still thought of today."