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Yemaya

 Great Goddess; Ocean Mother; mother of all the orishas.
Moon / Full Moon /Crescent Moon / Water / Saturday
(African: Yoruba; Afro-Caribbean; Afro-Brazilian)

Culture/Origin: West African (Yoruba).

Myth: Yemaya is a West African creation goddess, often depicted as a mermaid. She is associated with the moon, the ocean and female mysteries. Typically portrayed as a beautiful woman, Yemaya governs the household and intervenes in women's affairs. She is a merciful goddess, invoked by women for aid in childbirth, love and healing. She rules over the conception and birth of children and ensures their safety during childhood. As a creation goddess, Yemaya's womb spilled forth the fourteen Yoruba goddesses and gods, and the breaking of her uterine waters caused a great flood, which created the oceans. From her body the first human woman and man, who became the parents of all mortal beings on earth, were born.

Yemaya's Wisdom: I nurture, heal, touch, bless, comfort and make whole that which is incomplete. I am within you and you need only look inside yourself to find my eternal presence.

 

Yemayaís name may be spelled Yemalla, Yemalia, and in many other ways. She rules the sea, the Moon, dreams, deep secrets, sea shells, ancient wisdom, salt water, fresh water, ocean secrets, the collective unconscious, and the surface of the ocean, seas, and lakes. Her many titles include Queen of Witches, Mother of Fishes, The Constantly Coming Woman, The Ocean Mother, Mother of Dreams and Secrets, Mother of All, Mother of the Sea, Holy Queen Sea, The Womb of Creation, Mother of Pearl, Stella Maris (star of the sea), and Yeyé Omo Eja, Mother Whose Children Are the Fish. In Africa she is Mama Watta, Mother of Waters.

The African disapora spread Yemaya's worship to the New World, where she was syncretized with Mary as Our Lady of Regla (Virgin of Madrid), and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. In Cuba she is Yemaya, Yemaya Achabba (stern aspect), Yemaya Oqqutte (violent aspect), Yemaya Olokun (powerful dream aspect), and Yemaya Ataramagwa, Queen of the Sea. In Trinidad she is Emanjah, a river goddess. In Brazil she is an ocean goddess called Yemanja and Imanje. In Haiti her name is Agwe, Mother of the Sea, and in New Orleans she is called La Balianne.

The cowrie shell is Yemaya's symbol, and fish are sacred to her. Her jewels include crystals, pearls, and mother of pearl. Blue, white, and silver are Yemaya's colors. Seven is her number. Yemaya is celebrated on February 2 and December 31, when offerings are made to her. She is also honored on September 7, September 9, and on the eve of Summer Solstice, by casting flowers and votive boats into water. There is a Brazilian tradition of the candelaria on December 31, lighting candles on the beach at midnight for Yemanje. Votive boats made from flowers are cast into the sea. It is a good omen for the coming year if she accepts your boat, and carries it out to sea. It is a bad omen if your offering is refused, and your boat is washed back upon the shore.

Invoke Yemaya for blessings, compassion, wisdom, fertility, creation, riches, inspiration, motherhood, female power, natural wealth, love spells, wish magic, sea spells, fertility rituals, water magic, women's issues, having children, sustaining life, washing away sorrow, revealing mysteries, acquiring ancient wisdom, protecting the home, learning not to give your power away, and comforting children in crisis. Invoke her as Erzulie for beauty, good fortune, and good health. Invoke her as Yemoja to cure infertility, as Yemana for rain, as Emanjah for teaching children, as Yemaya Olokun for dream magic and protecting babies in the womb; and as Yemaya Ataramagwa for money spells. Invoke Yemaya as Agwe for affection and blessings.

Yams, grain, soap, perfume, jewelry, and fabric are all traditional offerings to Yemaya, thrown into the sea. Rams are also sacrificed to her.  Wear pearls or crystal beads to invoke her. To ask Yemaya to grant a wish or bestow a blessing, write her a letter and cast it into the sea.

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