The Original Suicide Girl

I can’t find much information on this week’s mythological subject, but she was just too interesting to pass up. Ixtab was the Mayan goddess of suicide, and patron deity of the noose and gallows. While many religions and cultures frown on suicide, the Mayans presumably didn’t. Rather than ending up as a tree in Hell, the fate Dante reserved for those committed suicide, Mayans who hanged themselves were apparently taken to a paradise, alongside warriors who died in battle and women who died in childbirth. In a way, I kind of think the Christian view on suicide was thought out a little better. I mean, if you really, truly believe that you’ll end up in paradise when you die, wouldn’t you WANT to hasten your death? Saying that people who commit suicide DON’T get into Heaven encourages people to stick it out, which would have to be generally better for society. Then again, maybe the Mayans only encouraged suicide among people who were widely disliked. “Yeah, sure, just go kill yourself. You’ll go straight to paradise!” And I’m sure both Mayans and Christians, as well as followers of numerous other religions that include a blissful afterlife in their belief systems, often aren’t quite as sure about this future existence as they might claim to be. The common belief in modern society seems to be that suicide is cowardly, but I’d say that might depend on how it’s done. Overdosing on pills isn’t particularly brave, true, but hanging yourself takes guts. I would say it might make more sense to replace “cowardly” with “short-sighted.” This isn’t always the case, as I think suicide can be justified in serious situations, but I get the impression that a lot of suicides take place in moments of weakness that will probably pass if you let them. Don’t give in to Ixtab and her empty promises!

The only known official picture of Ixtab appears in the Dresden Codex, a Mayan book kept in Dresden. Even then, no one is totally sure this hanging woman is actually the goddess, as it appears in a section on solar and lunar eclipses, not suicide. A proposed explanation is that this person is a moon goddess, and that this goddess might also serve as the deity of suicide. After all, as this page says, it’s kind of unlikely that there would be a goddess devoted to nothing but suicide by hanging, right?

Picture of Ixtab by Budgie

Ixtab in Final Fantasy XII

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5 Responses to The Original Suicide Girl

  1. Saki says:

    Actually, the Christian idea of suicide leading to Hell developed specifically in order to keep people from killing themselves to get into Heaven quicker.

    Regardless, though, saying that suicide is “cowardly” is incredibly offensive. If suicidal thoughts were something people could just get over until a “moment of weakness” passed, then there would be no suicide. If suicidal thoughts could be cured by saying “Don’t do that,” then there would be no suicide. People who kill themselves don’t do so because of a fleeting whim; people kill themselves because there is something in their life so powerful that they can’t find any other solution. For a lot of people, that powerful something is a mental illness that they have absolutely no control over. Please try to be respectful of the very real pain that these people go through.

  2. Kylee Cowles says:

    Nicely written. And very intresting this is. For sure something I was never taught in school. I don’t know what happens to those who commit suicide. But in all honesty commiting suicide at certain times Example: September 11, 2001. If you’re going to die, might as well make it as less painful as possible, so when those people jumped out of the towers, it also took guts but knowing you might die a even more painful death from licking flames of fire… I seriously cannot say what they did was wrong, but then it’s not my place to judge them, because I’m a person who struggles with multiple health issues, one is in fact depression. So is suicide wrong? No. Is suicide right? No. Because we all feel and believe different things, and that’s not a bad thing, it allows us to learn when we listen to thoughts of others. I just wish people would do it more often all over the world. And I’ve had a middle aged person laugh about some of the things I’ve said, but they’re important, though I’m only a teenager I’m someone who does a lot of thinking, and wondering, and questions after listening to what people say, because I, in a way, want to understand from their personal point of veiw, not just my outsider veiw. I’m a mormon, LDS, and I’m someone who believes in most of the things the church does, but then I have added MY own beliefs of which our not in my church. I read my bible when I feel I need to do some spiritual learning, pray when I need a little showing of the way… But I’m not always going to church, because I don’t always feel I need to. It’s how I feel, and what I believe is God in heaven knows me, and loves me, and spiritual, I’m alright. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not going someplace bad just because I didn’t go to church the Sunday before last, or because I said a bad word. So believing what I do it depends on the person, and the situation they’re in.

    • Nathan says:

      I think that last sentence sums it up pretty well. I can’t see how suicide could really be frowned upon when a person knows they’re going to die anyway, and there is a history of people preferring to die with dignity.

  3. Pingback: Sinking the Stinking One | VoVatia

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