“A religion without a goddess is halfway to atheism.”
― Dion Fortune
Goddess of the Sea. Mother of the Sea. Mother of Pearl. Mother of Dreams & Secrets. Empress of the Seven Oceans. Orisha of the Oceans. Womb of Creation. Constantly Coming Woman. Stella Maris (Star of the Sea). Mama Watta (Mother Water). Truly, THE Mother of All. Her name is spelled in many different ways depending on where one resides: Yemeya, Yemaya, Ymoja, Yemaja, Iemanja, Yemalla, Yemalia, Yemonja, Yemana, Balianna.
In Yoroba land, from where this Goddess originates, Yeye Omo Eja means The Mother Whose Children Are Fish. We begin as fish-like fetuses in the waters of our mothers’ wombs, we must traverse those early embryonic fluids and evolve to our human baby form. Both modern-day science and ancient cultures have an understanding that all life originated from the sea. And, one day, it is to these waters and the earth itself that we shall again return.
In the oral tradition of the Yoruba tribe of West Africa, originally Yemeya was the river goddess of their largest tributary, Ogun River, which was well-known to bring fertility. She resided far away from any ocean. She was an Orisha, a powerful force of nature. Yemeya was married to Aganyu, both were mortal god-humans, children of other mortal god-humans, created by Olodumare, the God Almighty.
Together, Yemeya and Aganyu had a son named Orungun. When Orungun became a teenager, he rebelled against his Father by raping his Mother. When Orungun attempted to rape his Mother a second time, she escaped to the highest mountaintop, the Chappal Waddi also known as the Mountain of Death, where she evoked all manner of retribution and justice by cursing her son until he died. Soon after, Yemeya found herself pregnant for her son, thus it came to pass, on that majestic mountaintop, 7900 feet above sea level, that she gave birth to 14 powerful nature spirits called Orishas. As her uterine waters spilled forth, a Great Flood ensued, which in turn created our world’s seven oceans. In her deep and regretful sorrow, Yemeya decided to take her life. Much later her bones birthed the first mortal man and woman, hence, Yemoja is called the Mother of All.
When her people were brutally captured and hoarded onto the slave ships, Yemaya had no choice but to gather her Spirit and go on this frightful journey, to protect and to guide the lives of her tribe, granting as many as possible safe passage to the New World. Africans, from this area, having never experience the expansive salty waterways, and under severe distress, naturally elevated Yemeya to the Goddess of the Ocean. The African diaspora brought Yemeya to a new land where she was to be worshiped by West Africans, Afro-Caribbeans and Brazilians alike for many purposes… fisherman pray to her for fish and prosperity, travelers and sailors pray to her for safe passage and calm seas, mothers pray to her for protection and guidance, maidens & women with empty wombs pray to her for fertility, all manners of people pray to her for seductive prowess and wealth, inhabitants of the coastal terrains pray to her for benevolent waves and gentle storms, and, of course, in those early slave days, Africans and their offspring simply prayed to survive.
According to legend, Yemaya’s first gift to the Africans of the New World 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. Listen!
I met Yemeya while living on the islands of Belize. She taught me how to float, how to surrender and definitely how to play in her waters. She reminded me to take time to replenish, to nurture and to nourish myself. She brought me coral, conch pearls and all manner of conch jewelry in which to beautify my body. She bewitched the fisherman on my behalf ensuring a constant supply of good seafood to my home and restaurant. She protected my young boys as they traversed the Caribbean Sea, learning to swim, to snorkel, to dive, to haul lobster, to spearfish and to play. She saved my life one stormy day on the sea while I was drowning by sending me her most treasured consort, Old Man of the Sea, Juni Zladivar. She entertained me with dolphins, turtles, manatees and many more sea creatures. She magically enlivened my life with her incandescent colors on the early morning seascapes. She healed my aches and pains with her salty waters. She comforted me when life seemed like it offered more than I could bear. She is my unwavering, most trustworthy friend. She continues to be my benefactor!
Yemeya embodies all aspects of a balanced, healthy Mother archetype… Deeply caring, kind, compassionate, understanding, forgiving, protective, comforting, empowered, abundant, providing, resplendent, nurturing, creative, merciful, generous, forbidding, powerful and stern.
“Invoke Yemeya for blessings, compassion, wisdom, fertility, creation, riches, inspiration, mother hood, female power, natural wealth, love spells, white magic, sea spells, fertility rituals, water magic, women’s issues, childbirth, sustaining life, washing away sorrows, revealing mysteries, acquiring ancient wisdom, protecting the home, learning not to give your power away, and comforting children in crisis. Invoke her as Erzukie 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 Atarmagwa for money spells. Invoke Yemaya as Agwe for affection and blessings.” (https://broomcloset.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/yemaya-african-ocean-goddess/)
Consider this when building an altar to her…
Yemeya is worshiped by crescent or full moons and on February 2nd as well as the Eve of Summer Solstice. Her lucky number is seven, like the seven seas. Her favorite day of the week is Saturday. Don the colors of blue, white or silver. She loves the smell of raspberry and cinnamon. Her coveted Gems are lapis lazuli, quartz crystals, pearls, mother of pearl, coral, moonstone, aquamarine, and turquoise. Naturally, she loves fish and all the creatures of the sea including ducks, as well as doves, but especially peacocks as they have her favorite colors. Her most coveted food and flower objects are oranges, tropical flowers, watermelons, yams, grains, seaweeds and other plants growing in the sea. Bring additional offerings of melons, molasses, whole fried fish and/or pork rinds to gain her favor.
Yemaya has graced my presence to grant me her energies: a woman who has been uprooted, relocated and challenged to unbearable extremes. A mother who has created, birthed, loved, cared, and tended her child only to lose that cherished baby. An empress who has been adored, worshiped and exalted and then quite suddenly, deviled, denied and enslaved only then to rise again to her rightful and truthful position and station in life.
As I call upon the sacred energies of the Mt. Shasta glaciers, high up in the Northern California Cascade ranges, galaxies away from West Africa, I hear Yemaya… she shows me the drought conditions of the once abundant Sacramento headwaters, she turns my attention to the polluted, rapidly declining state of our Seven Seas, she holds me (and all of us Wo/Men) accountable for this imbalance.
The Goddess speaks…”Until the Mother is worshiped and returned to her rightful place as the eternal creative force of this Earth, your world will remain in turmoil and the balance of your eco-systems will continue to deteriorate. Until the Goddess is exalted and revered for the never-ending source of everything she provides, human existence itself stands threatened. It is time now to carefully listen as the Mother is calling!”
“Only women who are enabled to sense a female divinity within their own spirit can bring about the profound changes that need to be made if humanity is to last much longer as one of earth’s life forms. The survival of any species depends on the nurturing behavior of its females, not the aggressive behavior of its males. It seems clear that the best hope for humanity is to return to its pre-patriarchal ethic of male submission to the Goddess spirit, not in the hierarchical sense that men understand as power-over.” Barbara G. Walker from Restoring the Goddess