Myths about gods and goddesses are usually framed to portray their great powers and prowess, but this Mayan myth of the moon goddess portrays gods as having human feelings and flaws too and even delves into abuse in marriages and jealousy. This folklore falls under the psychological and functional myth theories. Modern-day Mayans can be found in Mexico and Central America — mainly in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. So you can teleport mentally to any of the above countries and imagine sitting cross-legged on the beach listening to this lovely and educative myth.
Related media: The Myth Of The Moon Goddess – Cynthia Fay Davis
Once Upon A Goddess
Thousands and thousands of years ago lived Ixchel the kind and magical moon goddess…
Ixchel the moon goddess was fascinated with the spider’s weaving skills one evening as she patiently watched it go about its business. She was so impressed she taught herself by observing the spider become a highly-skilled weaver. The sun god Kinich Ahau was enthralled with Ixchel’s creativity and hard work and wanted to befriend her. The moon goddess’s grandfather was very protective of her, bothering on possessiveness and so did not encourage the sun god’s interest in his granddaughter.
The determined sun god transformed under the disguise of a hummingbird. One day whiles grandfather and granddaughter were frolicking through their garden, the sun god hummingbird came to suck honey from a tobacco flower and captured the interest of Ixchel. She begged her grandfather to capture the hummingbird for her and he gladly did, stunning the bird with a blow dart.
Ixchel nursed the injured bird back to health and it was now able to flap its wings and fly again. He transformed back into the body of the sun god and asked the enchanted Ixchel to run away with him and away they rowed in a canoe to start a new life without the grandfather’s hindrances.
The Things We Do For Love
The grandfather upon learning of their escape sought help from the powerful storm god to stop their escape. Sensing danger, the moon goddess jumped into the water transforming into a crab but the lightning bolt from the raging storm pierced through her heart and killed her. The body of the moon goddess washed ashore and thousands of magical dragonflies spread their magical wings on her body. This created a thick magical cloud over the goddess’ body and for thirteen days the dragonflies chopped and cleaned thirteen logs. On the thirteen night, the logs burst open and the moon goddess woke up again.
The sun god did not hesitate to ask for her hand in marriage and she happily agreed. Full of life and love, they were ready to light up the sky with their powerful rays together forever. The love must have died because the sun god began to mistreat his wife. The ill-treatment escalated when the sun god’s brother visited and seemed to be too fond of the moon goddess.
Then Love Starts To Fall Apart
One day while lamenting about her new fate by the river, a huge vulture offered to help her flee to safety on top of the mountains. Upon getting there she met the kind Vulture King, who took interest in her and was by far a kinder, better, and more loving husband than the sun god.
So angry and distraught was the sun god when the news reached him that he began to plot. He hid inside the carcass of a deer and jumped unto the huge vulture when it came to feeding on the carcass. The vulture flew him to the mountain top where the moon goddess had a new home. He begged her to return and promised that he had changed.
Not falling for his charming tongue but professing her kind and forgiving nature, the moon goddess returned with the sun god. And as most abusers do, the sun god mistreated her again. He struck her, marring her face and dimming her bright light. Unable to withstand the abuse, the moon goddess flew into the dark and decided to come out only at night. Establishing a strong friendship with the stars, she combined her rays with their light to guide night travelers. She used her healing abilities to cure ill people.
Just like all myths and folklore, there are several variations to the moon goddess story. This “Mayan myth of the moon goddess” is a great example of a functional myth. The story of Ixchel the moon goddess highlights the saying all that glitters is not gold and also teaches that good and bad behavior is rewarded accordingly.
Just imagine thousands and thousands of years ago on a bright moonlit night Mayan elders telling this story, a strategic warning to be wary of abusers.
What has been your experience with such educative and cultural myths? Do you have any fond memories to share?
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Written by: Phoebe Addo, Wed, Jun 29, 2022.