Yemeya: the Mother Spirit
Yemeya is often also spelled as Yemoja, Yemanja, Lemanja or even Yemalla. Yemeya literally means “Mother of Water”. Even though she is the Goddess of the vast and open oceans seas, she is also worshipped near lakes, wells or lagoons. Anywhere there is water; Yemeya is likely to be present. In West Africa, they worship Yemeya as a river deity but in Brazil and Cuba, they worship her only as a sea/ocean Goddess. This mother spirit has a soft place in her heart for all the women of the world, especially pregnant women. It takes a lot to anger this Goddess because she doesn’t get easily riled up. But when she does, you should expect a huge hurricane your way. She is quite loving but she is very powerful.
Yemeya loves her children and cares a lot for them. Their sorrow is almost as if it is Yemeya’s sorrows. She protects women especially and cures infertility for women who cannot conceive a child. She is almost always involved during childbirth, child care, parenting, healing, love, and conception. Yemeya is also often depicted as a mermaid with 2 tails who is associated with the moon, water, and feminine mysteries. According to a Yoruba Pataki, when Yemeya’s waters broke, it caused such a great flood that the water bodies on earth were created and that she gave birth to many human beings from her womb. In some cultures, Yemeya is also known to have given birth to the sun, moon, stars and many Orishas. She will unleash her wrath upon anyone who threatens her children.
According to Yoruba patakis and myths, when the slaves were transported across the oceans, it was Yemeya who protected and nurtured them. It was Yemeya who looked after them. She is the wife of Obatala, the chief, and judge. Yemeya also often gets depressed over her children. However, she is a stylish Goddess and despises gaudy things. Which is why in Brazil, the worshippers throw a huge feast for this Goddess. On 2nd February, everyone dresses up in white and goes down to the ocean to send her gifts and offerings on boats.
Giving Her Gifts
Yemeya’s offerings should be laid out in a stylish setting. Seafood on a gold or silver plate, a fruit basket, and some excellent white wine are known to be the best way to please this stylish Goddess. What pleases her, even more, is if you donate to a family or children’s charity or help a single mom. Yemeya also loves foamy lattes.
Apart from the oceans and large water bodies, Yemeya can be found in weddings, maternity wards or daycare centers.
Yemeya is known to wear a dress with seven skirts that represent the seven seas. With her favorite colors being blue and white and her favorite animals are the peacocks and ducks. Her number is 7, to signify the seven seas. The tools of Yemeya are the boat steering wheel, oars, anchors, and machetes. Cowrie shells are known to represent her wealth.
Learn more about Santeria and the Orishas with Lucumi: The Ways of Santeria