Saturday, December 24, 2011


Yemaja is a goddess, originally of the Yoruba religion, who has become prominent in many Afro-American religions. Africans from what is now called Yorubaland brought Yemaya and a host of other deities/energy forces in nature with them when they were brought to the shores of the Americas as captives. She is the ocean,the essence of motherhood, and a protector of children.

Name variants:
  • Africa: Yemoja, Ymoja, Iemanja Nana Borocum, Iemanja Bomi, Iemanja Boci
  • Brazil: Yemanjá, Iemanjá, Imanjá
  • Cuba: Yemaya, Yemayah, Iemanya
  • Haiti: La Sirène, LaSiren (in Vodou)
  • USA (New Orleans Hoodoo): Yemalla, Yemana
In some places, Yemaja is syncretized with other deities:
In Yorùbá mythology, Yemoja is a mother goddess; patron deity of women, especially pregnant women; and the Ogun river (the waters of which are said to cure infertility). Her parents are Oduduwa and Obatala. She was married to Agayu and had one son, Orungan, who raped her successfully one time and attempted a second time; she exploded instead, and fifteen Orishas came forth from her. They include Ogun, Olokun, Shopona and Shango.

Her name is a contraction of Yoruban words that mean "Mother whose children are like fishes". This represents the vastness of her motherhood, her fecundity and her reign over all living things.

Yemaya is celebrated in Ifá tradition as Yemoja[1]. As Iemanja Nana Borocum, or Nana Burku, she is pictured as a very old woman, dressed in black and mauve, connected to mud, swamps, earth.[2] Nana Buluku is an ancient god in Dahomey mythology.
The goddess is known as Yemanjá or Iemanjá in Brazilian Candomblé.
Every February 2 in Salvador, Bahia, there is a celebration of Iemanjá, which involves thousands of people lining up at dawn to leave their offerings at her shrine in Rio Vermelho. Presents for Iemanjá usually include flowers, perfume, and objects of female vanity (jewelry, combs, mirrors). These are gathered in large baskets and taken out to the sea by local fishermen. Afterwards a massive street party ensues.

In Rio de Janeiro, Iemanjá is celebrated on New Year's Eve, when millions of cariocas dressed in white gather on Copacabana beach to greet the New Year, watch fireworks, and throw flowers and other offerings into the sea for the goddess in the hopes that she will grant them their requests for the coming year.

In the Umbanda religion, Yemoja is a goddess of the ocean and patron deity of the survivors of shipwrecks.
She is venerated in Vodun as LaSiren.
In Santería, Yemayá is seen as the mother of all living things as well as the owner of all waters. Her number is 7 (a tie into the 7 seas), her colors are blue and white (representing water), and her favorite offerings include melons, molasses ("melaço" - sugar cane syrup), whole fried fishes and pork rinds. She has been syncretized with Our Lady of Regla.

FROM: Wikipedia, "Yemaya"
Yemaya was the river goddess of the Yoruba in Nigeria. When her people were hoarded onto the slave ships, Yemaya went with them, thus becoming their Goddess of the Ocean.

She traveled with them from Yoruba to distant lands, comforting them in the holds of the slave ships that took them far away from their homeland in Africa. Known by other names, her traditions continue in the countries to which her people were dispersed.

She is also called Ymoga (Mother of the Fishes), Iamanga, and Balianne. Today she is also celebrated under many other names, including the virgin Mary (Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception), Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), and Our Lady of name but a few.

She is often honored by celebrations on the eve of the New Year. Devotees send gifts of jewelry, fabric, soap, perfume and letters, along with floating candles that are set adrift in the moonlit sea, as gifts to the goddess Yemaya.

Yemaya is a mother goddess, the goddess of home, fertility, love and family. Like water she represents both change and constancy--bringing forth life, protecting it, and changing it as is necessary.

According to legend, Yemaya's first gift to humans was a sea shell in which her voice could always be heard. To this day we honor Yemaya when we hold a shell to our ear in order to hear her voice, the ocean.

Yemaya is a goddess of comfort and inspiration. She reminds us that even the worst catastrophes can be endured and that, with her help, we can learn to negotiate the ebbs and flows of change in our lives with her wisdom, courage, and grace.

FROM: Yemaya: Goddess of the Ocean and of the New Year --also see here.
She is one of the great goddesses of Africa and of the African diaspora. In her original homeland, she was the Yoruba goddess of the Ogun river, where she was said to the be daughter of the sea into whose waters she empties. Her breasts are very large, because she was mother of so many of the Yoruba gods.

She is also the mother of waters--Mama Watta--who gave birth to all the world's waters. Even as she slept, she would create new springs, which gushed forth each time she turned over. At her main temple, at Abeokuta in the Ibara district, she is offered rams, yams and corn.

In the African diaspora, Ymoja has remained a popular divinity. She is Imanje or Yemanja in Brazilian Macumba, where she is ocean-goddess of the crescent moon. In Cuba she is Yemaya, appearing in many variants: Yemaya Ataramagwa, the wealthy queen of the sea; stern Yemaya Achabba; violent Yemaya Oqqutte; and the overpowering Yemaya Olokun, who can be seen only in dreams. She is Agwe in Haiti, La Balianne in New Orleans. She is syncretized with Our Lady of Regla and Mary, Star of the Sea; in Brazil, she is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, whose followers wear crystal beads and greet her appearance with shouts of "Odoya." On her feastday on February 2, crowds gather on the ocean beaches of Bahia to offer her soap, perfume, jewelry and fabric which, together with letters bearing requests to the goddess, are thrown out to sea.

Text from Patricia Monaghan's The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines
Published by Llewellyn, copyright 1997
FROM: Yemaya (painting there too)
Yemaya is the Yoruban Orisha or Goddess of the living Ocean, considered the Mother of All. She is the source of all the waters, including the rivers of Western Africa, especially the River Ogun. Her name is a contraction of Yey Omo Eja, which means "Mother Whose Children are the Fish". As all life is thought to have begun in the Sea, all life is held to have begun with Yemaya. She is motherly and strongly protective, and cares deeply for all Her children, comforting them and cleansing them of sorrow. She is said to be able to cure infertility in women, and cowrie shells represent Her wealth. She does not easily lose Her temper, but when angered She can be quite destructive and violent, as the Sea in a storm.

Yemaya was brought to the New World with the African diaspora and She is now worshipped in many cultures besides Her original Africa. In Brazilian Candomblé, where She is known as Yemanja or Imanje, She is the Sea Mother who brings fish to the fishermen, and the crescent moon is Her sign. As Yemanja Afodo, also of Brazil, She protects boats travelling on the Sea and grants safe passage.

In Haitian Vodou She is worshipped as a Moon-goddess, and is believed to protect mothers and their children. She is associated with the mermaid-spirits of Lasirenn (Herself a form of Erzulie) who brings seduction and wealth, and Labalenn, Her sister the whale.

Yemaya rules over the surface of the ocean, where life is concentrated. She is associated with the Orisha Olokin (who is variously described as female, male, or hermaphrodite) who represents the depths of the Ocean and the unconscious, and together They form a balance. She is the sister and wife of Aganju, the god of the soil, and the mother of Oya, goddess of the winds.

Our Lady of Regla in Brazil may be linked to Her, and She is equated elsewhere in the Americas with the Virgin Mary as the Great Mother. In parts of Brazil She is honored as the Ocean Goddess at the summer solstice, while in the north east of the country Her festival is held on February 2nd (a day that is also associated with Her daughter Oya, as well as being the feast day of the Celtic Bride), with offerings of blue and white flowers cast into the Sea.Yemaya's colors are blue and white, and She is said to wear a dress with seven skirts that represent the seven seas. Sacred to Her are peacocks, with their beautiful blue/green iridescence, and ducks. The number seven is Hers, also for the seven seas.

Alternate spellings: Yemanja, Yemojá, Yemonja, Yemalla, Yemana, Ymoja, Iamanje, Iemonja, Imanje
Epithets: Achabba, in Her strict aspect; Oqqutte in Her violent aspect: Atarmagwa, the wealthy queen of the sea; Olokun or Olokum as goddess of dreams
Also called: Mama Watta, "Mother of the Waters"
FROM: Yemaya
Other Links:
Photos of the celebration on flickr
Yemaya, Goddess of Surrender
Multicultural Muses: Finding Yemaya - African Goddess of the Sea
Afro/Caribbean Gods and Goddesses images- Yemaya
Yemaya Goddess Mask by Lauren Raine
Yemaya -- lists her correspondences and symbolism, important for ritual, altars, etc.
Yemaya.html -- correspondences and symbolism
Yemaya & Yemaya 2
African Mythology: Yemaya
Yemaya -- correspondences and symbolism
Yemaya Altar Online Video & Yemaya Online Video
Random House | Books | The Altar of My Soul by Marta Moreno Vega
Altar Photos, one for Yemaya there.
Lucumí - Altar Statues - Muñecos
Ocean Goddess Yemaya Statue Also here
La Sirene's Page
More Yemaya
She Moves in Mysterious Ways: My relationship with Yemayá
Spiritual Worker - Santeria

No comments:

Post a Comment