Goddess of the Month - Yemaya


Yemaya by Osbed Merced
Yemaya by Osbed Merced from http://www.lulu.com/omifalade
Yemaja is an Orisha or Goddess, originally of the Yoruba religion, who is prominent in many African-American religions. Africans from what is now part of Nigeria brought Yemaya and a host of other Orishas 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. Her name is a contraction of Yoruba words: "Yeye emo eja" that mean "Mother whose children are like fishes". This represents the vastness of her motherhood, her fecundity and her reign over all living things. She is often depicted as a mermaid. She is associated with the moon, the ocean and female mysteries. Typically portrayed as a beautiful woman, Yemaya governs the household and intervenes in women's affairs. She is a merciful Goddess, invoked by women for aid in childbirth, love and healing. She rules over the conception and birth of children and ensures their safety during childhood. As a creation Goddess, Yemaya's womb spilled forth the fourteen Yoruba goddesses and gods, and the breaking of Her uterine waters caused a great flood, which created the oceans. From Her body the first human woman and man, who became the parents of all mortal beings on earth, were born. She is worshipped and revered in many places and is called by many names now. Some examples of Her names/titles are:

Africa: Yemoja, Ymoja, Iemanja Nana Borocum, Iemanja Bomi, Iemanja Boci
Brazil: Yemanjá, Iemanjá, Janaina
Cuba: Yemaya, Yemayah, Iemanya
Haiti: La Sirène, LaSiren (in Vodou)
USA (New Orleans Voodoo): Yemalla, Yemana

Festivals of Yemaya
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. Paintings of Iemanjá are for sale in Rio shops, next to painting of Jesus etc. They portray Her as a woman rising out of the sea. Small offerings of flowers and floating candles are left in the sea on many nights at Copacabana.

Offerings for Yemaya

Yemaya is a loving Goddess who adores many different kinds of offerings. Some of Her favorites include blue and white candles, salt water, water melon, any type of melon, pictures or figurines of mermaids, fish and shell fish, seaweed, anything silver, clear quartz, pearls or mother of pearls, coconut milk, boats and ships, shells, perfumes and scented oils, cakes, silver colored or silver bells, champagne, blue and white flowers, lace, soap, blue and white beads, seven coins, tied blue and white ribbons, plantains, lambs, roosters, violets, and water cress. Yemaya will accept whatever a child makes from his or her heart (that depends on Her path in Her more gentler form that is). To ask Yemaya to grant a wish or bestow a blessing, write Her a letter and cast it into the sea.

The Paths of Yemaya

Yemaya Asseu
In this aspect She lives in dirty and polluted waters. She accepts offerings with the dead and She is pretty slow in answering the requests of Her children.
Yemaya Oquette
This is the violent form of the Goddess. She is destructive. The mother who gives birth to her children will also destroy them, In that aspect She is like Kali in Her destructive aspect.
Yemaya Awoyo
She is the ancient form of Yemaya. She is wise, honorable, loving, caring, and She is also very wealthy. She wears a rainbow (Ochumare) as a crown over Her head. She is also a powerful warrior.
Yemaya Mayalewo
She is a powerful witch. She works closely with Oggun. She lives in lagoons that are surrounded by a wooded area. She lives in solitude. She loves the peacefulness of the woods.
Yemaya Achabba
In this aspect, She is married to Oggun who heeds to Her wise advice. She is the serious and stern aspect of Yemaya. She disciplines when She has to and can be very dangerous. Her magic spells are very powerful, and turns Her back to listen to Her devotees.
Yemaya Acuaro
This is an aspect where the river (Oshun) Meets the sea (Yemaya). Therefore She is very close to Oshun, Her sister, Who She loves to dance and spend time with. She is a powerful healer, and She can dispel evil spells. She does not do any other magic.
Yemaya Okuti
This is Yemaya as Queen of the Witches, and hence Her magick is very powerful. She sends Her messages to Her children via mice. She owns the coral reefs and mother of pearls. When She dances, Yemaya Okuti always has a snake draped around Her arm. This symbolizes Her wisdom and sexuality. In this path Yemaya has a bad temper. She is harsh and unforgiving. It would be wise not to upset Her for She can make one's life very miserable. A fierce warrior, She battles alongside Oggun. During wartime She carries His weapons and working tools from Her waist. Also close to Oshun, Her home is the rocks near the coastline that break the water. She can also be found in lakes, rivers and forests.
Yemaya Olokun
This is Yemaya as She is found in the deepest parts of the ocean. She has vast wisdom, and at times a rather violent nature. This aspect can be very overpowering.

The Wisdom of Yemaya

"I nurture, heal, touch, bless, comfort and make whole that which is incomplete. I am within you and you need only look inside yourself to find my eternal presence."

The Story of Yemaya - by Luisah Teish

Once there was a beautiful woman by the name of Ye-ma-ya, who looked into the waters of the ocean. There She saw Her own reflection and asked, "Who is that beautiful woman? I thought I was the prettiest thing that the World had ever seen!"

And as She looked on that woman there came a rumbling in Her belly and it grew and it grew until it exploded and covered the land with lakes, rivers, and streams.

Yemaya looked into the water of the river and there again She saw that woman and asked, "Who is that beautiful woman? I thought that I was the prettiest thing that the World had ever seen!"

And again Her belly grew and it grew and grew till it exploded and sprinkled the heavens with stars and a Full Moon.

Yemaya looked in the Full Moon, and again She asked, "Who is that beautiful woman? I thought I was the prettiest thing that the world had ever seen!"

And again Her belly grew, and it grew and it grew until it exploded! And before Her stood thousands of beautiful women.

Yemaya asked, "Who are you beautiful women? I thought that I was the prettiest thing the world had ever seen!"

The women looked deep into the eyes of Yemaya and there they saw their own reflections.

So the women said to Yemaya, "You are! We're just you!"

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