My final project is an artistic representation of Yemaya (Yemoya, Ymoga, Iamanga, Balianne). Yemaya is a mother goddess, the goddess of home, fertility, love and family. But more importantly to me, she presides over the ocean. Like water she represents both change and constancy. She brings forth life; protecting it, letting it grow, and changing it as is necessary. Yemaya is often depicted as a mermaid, or a beautiful young woman standing in the water, and so in my painting she hovers in the center of tumultuous cerulean waves. Yemaya is a goddess of comfort and inspiration. I chose to depict her as a faceless crystalline female form, so that she can be a brilliant light against the darkness of the background, which is the unknown.
Interaction with the Goddess
Yemaya is very good at divination and, in fact, she learned how to do cowrie divination by hiding behind the door and spying on her husband, Orula, as he did readings for others with the shells. According to legend, “women weren't supposed to use the dilogún (cowrie shells) or do divinations, but Yemaya was so good at it, Orula made a pact with her and told her that she could use the dilogún to divine”. Call to her when you seek clarity on a matter or when you need to connect with your most maternal side. Her energies are beneficial in divination concerning fertility, children, and menstruation due to her connection with the moon.
It is customary on New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro for Brazilians wear blue and white clothing to honor Yemaya’s favorite colors, and they go to the sea shore, where they sing and pour offerings into the sea for Yemaya. Typical offerings include of food (no fish), wine, perfume, and seashells are set among the waves in her honor. Brazilians then cast white flowers into the water, petitioning her blessings for the coming year.
Yemaya Blessing Ritual
“Depending on the weather and climate where you live, you may wish to perform one or both of these practices:
In your bathroom, create an altar in honor of Yemaya. Use ocean-related objects, such as seashells, pearls, mermaid art, starfish, and white flowers.
Fill your bathtub with warm water, adding 1/4 cup of sea salt and seven drops of eucalyptus oil for purification. Immerse yourself in the bath. Pray to Yemaya, aloud or silently. Tell her all of your worries, fears, and regrets, past and present. Ask her to gently dissolve any blocks you may have impeding you from letting go and moving forward. Thank the Mother for her love and compassion. Remove the drain plug. As the water empties, envision all that you released being washed away.
Go to a body of water, such as an ocean, lake, or stream. The ritual will still be effective if the water is frozen. Bring with you the white flowers from your altar. Enjoy the water’s beauty, reflect upon it as a symbol of flexibility and change. Cast your flowers into the water as a loving offering to Yemaya, affirming your fresh start in the New Year.”
Yemaya image by artist Thalia Took