Without gods to worship, the Mayans believed that certain events would not take place. For example, their corn would not grow or they’d have an unsuccessful hunt if the proper gods and goddesses were not pleased. In this article, you will encounter some of the gods and goddesses associated with important aspects of ancient Mayan culture.
Yum Caax , God of Agriculture and Nature
The personification of maize named Yum Caax was also a god of agriculture and nature that was often referred to as the “lord of the woods.” In Mayan myths, the god may have had a connection with the ancient northern hunting tradition. Because of this, Mayans who went out to hunt would pay homage to Yum Caax to appease the “owner of all the game.” Some believe that he would appear to hunters and was the keeper of songs that made it easier for hunters to enjoy success during a hunting trip. The god was believed to encourage arrows to come back to the hunter.
Ix Chel , the Lady Rainbow
In Mayan myths, Ix Chel (or Ixchel) is known as the Lady Rainbow or the goddess of the earth and moon. Her place in Mayan mythology also sees her as the patroness of weavers and pregnant women.
Ix Chel is part of a myth that places her as the lover of the sun. However, her grandfather was not pleased with this union and decided to throw lightning at her out of jealousy. The lightning struck and killed Ix Chel. For 183 days, dragonflies sang over her body. When she awakened, she followed the sun to his palace. Soon, the sun started to become jealous of Ix Chel and thought that she was having an affair with the morning star (who happened to be the brother of the sun).
The sun tossed Ix Chel out of heaven and then encouraged her to return home. It wasn’t long before the sun became jealous once again. Ix Chel had given the Sun god four sons, which were jaguar gods that had the ability to creep throughout the night without being seen. They were given names of the four directions and it is said that each one was in charge of holding up a specific corner of the sky.
Ix Chel had grown tired of his tirades and she went off into the night, where she remained invisible whenever the sun came out. Ix Chel embraced the night and the Mayans believed that she spent the night nursing women of Earth when they underwent their pregnancy and birth of their children. Cozumel was an island sacred to Ix Chel. Another location on the earth associated with the goddess was Isla Mujeres, which translates into “Island of Women.” This island was devoted to Ix Chel, who was viewed as a protector of fertility, as well as the keeper of the souls of the dead.