World Deities: Yemaya

Yemaya is a Yoruba goddess, the wife of Obatala. She is one of the Orisha, a Mother Goddess, the goddess of home, fertility, love and family, and also a goddess of the ocean, specifically the surface, where sunlight reaches.

She is often depicted as a mermaid, or simply a beautiful woman standing amidst the waves, and she traditionally wears a long, flowing dress, the skirt of which is often shown as being blue and white, the colours associated with her, meant to represent the waves of the ocean. When it comes to caring for others, her impulses are sincere and comforting. And she has a love for children that is unequalled.

Although she’s very maternal and nurturing, she can be fierce.  Her punishments can be terrible when she’s outraged, but she’s fair minded and forgiving when proper remorse is shown.  Yemaya is clever and brave;  when she goes to war on behalf of her children, she wields a machete with expertise and is unbeatable. Her eleke is made out of transparent crystal beads alternating with royal blue ones, in a pattern of seven, which is her number.

As a mother, she’s wise and virtuous, but she does like to have a good time and she enjoys dancing.  When dancing, she begins slowly and gracefully but as she swirls and moves her skirts to reflect the rhythm of the waves, she builds up speed and intensity, showing her immense power.

Yemaya is the patron of pregnant women.  She also acts as a spiritual mother to all those who feel lost and lonely.  She’ll always listen and offer maternal love to anyone who needs a mother.

Due to slavery, she travelled across to the Americas and is worshipped in various cultures there, as well as her native Africa, hence the variations in her name: YEMANJA, YEMONJA, YEMAYAH, YEMOWO, YEMOJA, YEMOWO, YEMBO, IAMANJIE.

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