The “old goddess” is a paradoxical character in Maya mythology. She is the grandmother who raised the infant gods, but in most accounts, she hated them, and finally tried to kill them. Despite her significance, she rarely appears in ancient Maya art.
“We find her portraits here and there, but she is not a favorite,” said Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos, assistant professor of anthropology at Yale. “Still, her depictions are consistent with descriptions of old goddesses as patrons of childbirth, midwifery, and the sweat bath — a facility that is still used for pre- and post-partum treatments in Maya communities. Understanding the old goddess is key to understanding Maya mythology.”