The Order of the White Moon Goddess Gallery Presents
Yemaya likes sea shells, fish, net, sea horses, anchors and everything related to the sea. She is generally kept in a blue flowered porcelain soup tureen full of water. She is also associated with stars and the full moon, ducks and peacocks. Yemaya controls the parts of the sea that a human knows. She controls the part of the ocean where there are plants, fish and other marine life that humans can use for food. She's also associated with the creative and nurturing forces of the sea.
She learned how to do divination by watching her husband, Orula, do consults. Women weren't supposed to do consults but Yemaya was so good at it, her husband made a pact with her that she could use cowry shells to divine.
She was the daughter of Olokun. She was the wife of, at different times, Obatala, Orula, Ayayu, Babalu, Aye, Orisha, Oka, and in some other stories, Oyun. Generally regarded as the older sister of Ochun. She's the mother, or foster mother, of almost all the major Orichas, low level gods. Yemaya is the patron of pregnant women. She is the spiritual mother to all those who feel lost and lonely. She'll always listen and offer maternal love to anyone who needs a mother.
Yemaya can also be spelled Yemaja, Iemaja, or Yemaya. She can be found in all the waters of the world. Because of this, she has many roads, each reflected the nature of different bodies of water. She is not just a loving mother. One of her roads are fierce warriors who fight with sabers or machetes and bathe in the blood of the fallen enemy. Other roads are master diviners who have been through marriage, divorce and back again. Some were rape survivors while some betrayed her sisters out of jealousy and spite. No matter what road to Yemaya, all are powerful female orishas and fiercely protective mothers.
She is also known as Ymoga (mother of the fishes), Iamanga and Balianne. Today, she is celebrated as the Virgin Mary (Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception), Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), and Our Lady of Regia. She comforted the slaves in the ships.
Originally, Yemaya was a river Goddess of the Yoruta in Nigeria, which is far from the ocean. She was a nature spirit, an orisha. An orisha shows itself as a force of nature. When her people were loaded on the ships, she went along, becoming the Goddess of the ocean.
She shares the ocean with another orisha. Olokun rules the dark and turbulent depths while Yemaya rules the upper level where the light hits and the water evaporates. Her daughter, Oya (wind) then carries it to land for rain.
Yemaya is a mother Goddess. The Goddess of home, fertility, love and family. She also represents change and consistency - bringing forth life, protecting it, and changing it as is necessary.
Yemaya is the daughter of a mortal god-human, Obatala, and his wife. Yemaya and her brother, Aganyu had a son together. As a teenager, he rebelled against his father and brutally raped Yemaya. He tried to rape her again but she fled to a mountain top where she cursed her son until he died.
Her name is a shortened version of Yey Omo Eya, which means "Mother Whose Children are the Fish" to reflect that because her children are so numerous, they're uncountable. According to modern science theories and as ancient cultures knew, all life begins in the sea. As an embryo, we spend the first moments of our lives swimming in a warm sea of amniotic fluids. Before becoming a human baby, we go through the form of a fish thus making Yemaya the mother of all. Yemaya embodies all characteristics of motherhood, caring and love. This maternal source of the divine, human, animal, and plant life is most widely symbolized by the ocean.
In Yoruba culture, Yemaya is directly linked to a male energy - Olukun. They complement each other. Olukun balances her strong feminine powers with his steadfast male energy. In Santeria and Candomble, Olukun and Yemaya have been separated into two Orisha. Yemaya has the largest following in both religions. One possible explanation for her following is her connection to the sea and the Africans who were brought over.
Yemaya stays in the uppermost part of the ocean while Olukun is the orisha who resides in the dark depths. Olukun is respected for his ominous power that has no perceived limits or boundaries while Yemaya is associated with life, fertility and creation. Therefore, they balance each other. United Yemaya/Olukun offer enormous protection, love and unlimited energy.
Some characteristics associated with Yemaya/Olukun are:
-love for children
-very strong temper which is slow to erupt
-sincere caring for others
- ability to see other perspectives
- very domestic
-very protective of offspring
-attraction for streams, lakes and oceans
-able to forgive easily
-a calm attitude
-money comes easily and without worry
-emotional well-being is important
-very caring and comforting
-quiet sense of sensuality
By exploring Yemaya's symbol as the ocean, we notice these characteristics. By rocking the world as a cradle, the tides represent Yemaya's desires to protect and nurture all her children. With Yemaya considered to be the greatest mother there is no surprise that she is very sexual. Since nothing can resist water, she is respected for her strength. Those who hurt her children, Yemaya drowns.
Also representing Yemaya are peacocks. Blue is her color. Those who worship her wear necklaces of clear and blue beads as well as a blue dress complete with seven layers to represent the seven seas. In a ceremony for Yemaya, everyone dances in a circle and the altar is in the form of a circle. The circle represents the eternal cycle of life.
Offerings to Yemaya include fish, fruits (watermelon, cantaloupe, berries and coconut), white wine, all seafood, lettuce and coffee. Her feast days include September 7th (Santeria), January 1st, February 2nd (Brazil), and Mother's Day. The sign of cancer is her astrological sign. Her tarot cards include the Empress and 3 of cups. The chakra is the heart. Her gemstones include pearls, blue topaz, aquamarine, blue lace agate, and mother of pearl. Her animals include dolphins, fish of all kinds, ducks, geese, swans and other water birds, blue butterflies, and sea horses. Entities of similar energies are Isis, Frigg, Kuan Yin and mothers everywhere as well as ocean deities.
Offerings to Yemaya should be laid out in a tasteful setting. A good offering would include a plate of seafood, a bowl of fruit and a good white wine. When walking into the ocean, walk in sideways (with your left side facing in) and say hello to her. Also throw 7 pennies into the ocean or another large body of water.
Ritual to Yemaya
-blue and white candles
-bowl of salt water
-blue and white flowers
-have everyone bring pics or statues of Yemaya
-Call elements to join circle
-Call Yemaya to join the circle
-Light blue and white candles
-Place bowl of salt water on altar along with the candles
-Place flowers on altar
-Have everyone tell stories of their mothers and their own motherhood if they're mothers.
-Have everyone tell their experiences of the ocean if indicated.
-Have everyone place their pics and statues of Yemaya on the altar
-Pass bowl of salt water for self-blessing
-Hum to raise power and send it to the environment
-Share great food
The ritual is original written by Raven Elder.
Yemaya - About Santeria www.aboutsanteria.com/yemayaacute.html
Yemaya - www.swarthmore.edu/humanities/ychirea1/yemaya.html
Return to the Goddess Gallery