In Mayan mythology Ixtab (sometimes called Ix Tab, though it's not 100% certain that they were one and the same) was a death goddess. She hung from heaven by a rope around her neck and descended to gather the souls of those who died as a result of childbirth , sacrifice or suicide. She also gathered those who died as members of her priesthood, earthly rulers or valiantly in battle. She is portrayed in the Dresden Codex as a woman of indeterminate age hanging by a noose with eyes closed, in an early stage of decomposition.

Her special favourites were those who killed themselves by hanging. Mayan culture regarded suicide, especially in a manner that would appear worthy to Ixtab, as a legitimate means of obtaining entry to heaven. She was also the ruler of paradise where she would take her wards to enjoy the pleasures of the afterlife in the shade of the Yaxche tree. Her importance and role in Mayan life declined after the Spanish conquest, when the Christian ethic condemning suicide prevailed.

Ixtab is generally considered a lunar goddess, though without a direct European or Middle Eastern counterpart since neither Artemis nor Diana fit the bill. The theme of hanging and the afterlife occurs in the Sumerian myth of Inanna. However, while the Innana myth has parallels in Osiris and Persephone and can be placed in one category with them (notwithstanding her other divine aspects), what's known about Ixtab lacks the association with rebirth and the underworld that those deities have in common. She should probably be regarded as unique to the Maya and indeed one of the strangest members of any pantheon.

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