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For Goddesses only!

May 26, 1995 06:02 PM

Normally I don't give the Goddess much thought.  Maybe I think
it's sexist to do so.  I think of Gods and Goddess and men and
women as equals with different attributes.  I know I'm not alone
in this thinking.

Anyway, I woke up the other day thinking about the topic on the
net: "In Search of the Goddess for Nancy", and suddenly I
realized that my e-mail ad- dress, Ix Chel (pronounced: e-shell),
is the Maya Moon Goddess of ancient Mexico.  Maybe I was
previous- ly in denial.

There are only three surviving Maya books in the world, since all
the rest were burned.  But the legend of the Moon Goddess remains
very strong.  Her story is retold time and time again when it is
woven into the indigenous daily costumes of the remote Highlands
of Chiapas, Mexico.  Many more people are familiar with this area
nowadays, since the political trouble put Chiapas on the map.

Present day Maya women weave their own clothing from cotton
thread or home spun wool.

It is said that a Maya woman dreams a dream.  The next day she
sets up her loom.  She uses the ancient geome- tric Maya symbols
to tell her story.  She weaves her dream into the material world
of cloth which will later become a vestment of protection, warmth
and beauty for the wearer.  Her traditional blouse is cal- led a
Huipil (pronounced: we-peel).  It is rectangular in shape and has
a square hole in the middle for the head to pass.  When the women
places the Huipil over her head to come to rest upon her
shoulders, she con- siders herself to be at the center of the
cosmos.  The ever present diamond symbol pattern of brocade
called the Grand Design surrounds her, with the four points of
the diamond shape representing the four corn- ers of the heavens:
North, South, East and West.  In essence the Huipil is a map of
the universe itself.

Ancient Maya cosmology remains today, recorded contin- ually in
the Maya traditional costume.  Most weavers do not understand the
geometric language they weave, but they learn to master weaving
as an art form which secretly holds the legends of their past.

The Maya Moon Goddess represents fertility.  That is why the toad
is a symbol of the woman and is a popular theme in the Huipil.
Ix Chel is also the Goddess of weaving and the healing arts.
According to legend the Moon was the consort of the Sun.  The Sun
God got jealous because the Moon Goddess was unfaithful.  She was
weaving rela- tionships with all the other planets.

The Maya of Guatemala only weave remnants of their ancient
symbolic language.  Remember in the 60's when the hippies wore
colorful cotton ikat shorts and shirts? The figure of Ix Chel is
woven on just about every garment ever sewn.  She stands among
the corn (also woven into the fabric) in the cornfield.  It is
imperative that she be there insuring the fertility of the
harvest.  The Maya are superstitious, and must have their Goddess
nearby for protection.

Actually, Ix Chabel Yax was the first weaver.  She is always
pictured with a snake on her head.  She is ugly, and is the wife
of the Creator of the universe, Itzsam Na.  Ix Chel was more
attractive and had a baby strap- ped to her back.  That is why I
picked Ix Chel for my business logo when I worked among the Maya.

All that I have said is from memory.  There were lots of stories
floating around among the many anthropologists.  I am not an
anthropologist, but I used to think the indigenous women I worked
with were.  I think they had great fun studying us foreigners
among them.

I had some time off, and so I wrote these memories down.  I'm not
sure if this fits on the theos-l, but maybe a Goddess or two out
there might find it an amusing story.


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