Orisha Yemaya: Queen of the Sea
In Santeria, Yemaya, also known as Yemoja, is one of the most revered and powerful Orishas and is considered to be a member of the Seven African Powers. Yemaya is the goddess of the ocean and the mother of all living things and is revered for her nurturing and protective nature. She is the source of and controller of all waters and is seen as the quintessential mother figure.
As a member of the Seven African Powers, Yemaya is believed to possess great strength and influence and is often called upon for guidance, protection, and blessings. Within the pantheon of Santeria, Yemaya is seen as a key figure and is revered for her ability to bring life, offer support, and provide guidance to all who inhabit the Earth.
Yemaya and Olokun: Creating Balance In the Ocean
Yemaya is closely associated with the Orisha Olokun, who is the ruler of the depths of the ocean. Yemaya is seen as the guardian of the upper surfaces of the ocean, where the light reflects and living things thrive, while Olokun is responsible for the tumultuous depths of the sea. Together, these two Orishas are seen as working in harmony to create a balance in the ocean and maintain order in the underwater world.
Yemaya is also believed to work closely with Olokun in overseeing the waves and the myriad of life forms that call the ocean their home. The relationship between Yemaya and Olokun is an important one in Santeria, and both are revered for their roles in protecting and nurturing the oceans and all that inhabit them.
Yemaya as a Symbol of Motherhood, Fertility, and Female Power
Yemaya is closely connected to fertility, motherhood, and female power. As the goddess of the ocean and the mother of all living things, Yemaya is seen as the embodiment of motherhood and fertility. She is revered for her ability to give life and protect it and is often called upon by women seeking fertility and blessings during pregnancy. In addition to her connection to fertility, Yemaya is also seen as a powerful and versatile deity, with aspects that range from warm and nurturing to strong and warrior-like.
Yemaya is also seen as a guardian and protector of children. She is believed to watch over children with a keen eye, offering guidance and support as they grow and develop. She is also seen as a source of comfort and protection for children and is often called upon by parents seeking blessings and guidance for their children.
She is revered as a symbol of female power and strength and is seen as a guiding force for women in all of their experiences. Yemaya is therefore an important figure in the traditions of Santeria and is revered for her ability to bring life, nurture, and protect all those who call upon her. The daughter of Oddudua and Obatala, Yemaya is the mother to fourteen Orishas, as well as Obafulom and Lyaa, the first human male and female and the ancestors of all humans.
Yemaya's Relationship to The Moon and the Tides
As the goddess of the ocean, Yemaya is believed to have a powerful influence over the tides and the movements of the sea. In this role, she is seen as a guardian of the tides and is often called upon to bring balance and harmony to the oceans. In addition to her connection to the tides, Yemaya is also closely associated with the moon. This connection is believed to be due to the moon's influence on the tides and the rhythms of the ocean. In this way, Yemaya is seen as a guardian of both the tides and the moon and is revered for her ability to bring balance and harmony to the waters of the world.
Yemaya's Influence Over Inspiration and Creativity
As the goddess of the ocean and the mother of all living things, Yemaya is believed to possess a vast wealth of knowledge and wisdom. In this role, she is often called upon by those seeking inspiration and guidance in their creative endeavors. It is believed that Yemaya can offer guidance and support to those who seek to tap into their creative potential, helping them to access the insights and ideas that lie within.
In addition to her influence on creativity and inspiration, Yemaya is also seen as a source of healing and renewal. As the guardian of the oceans, she is believed to possess the ability to cleanse and regenerate and is often called upon to bring healing and balance to those in need.
Colors and Symbols Associated With Yemaya
Yemaya is closely associated with a number of colors, symbols, animals, and objects that are seen as sacred to her. These include the colors blue and white, which are believed to be her favorites and are often depicted in her imagery. Blue is often associated with Yemaya due to her connection to the ocean, while white is seen as a symbol of purity and is often used to represent her nurturing and caring nature.
In addition to the colors blue and white, Yemaya is also closely associated with Cowrie Shells, pearls, and other elements that are connected to the ocean. These items are often used as offerings to Yemaya and are seen as symbols of her connection to the sea. In terms of animals, Yemaya is often associated with peacocks, seabirds, and other creatures that are connected to the water. These animals are believed to be sacred to Yemaya and are often depicted in her imagery as symbols of her connection to the ocean and all of the life it contains.
She is often depicted in a gown with seven skirts that represent the Seven Seas. She is also sometimes represented as a mermaid, with her beautiful blue tail gliding through the water and a necklace of pearls and starfish around her neck.
Yemaya's Feast Days
Yemaya has a number of feast days that are celebrated throughout the year. These feast days are seen as significant events in the calendar and are often marked by special ceremonies and rituals. Yemaya's feast days include February 2nd, June 22nd (The Summer Solstice), September 7th and 9th, October 26th, and December 31st. On these days, followers of Yemaya will often make offerings and participate in rituals in honor of the goddess.
These celebrations can include the burning of incense, the offering of gifts, and the performance of traditional dances and music. The significance of Yemaya's feast days lies in the fact that they provide an opportunity for followers of the goddess to come together and honor her, as well as to seek her blessings and guidance.
The Roads of Yemaya
As such an all-encompassing orisha, Yemaya has many avatars. Depending on the worshipper's context, they are also called roads, paths, or caminos. Each of these avatars are aspects of Yemaya, but all are slightly different. Here are a few:
Yemaya's warrior avatar is Ibú Okoto, "She Who Lives in the Conches," the seafaring swordswoman of the red tide. She carries a scimitar, presides over battles at sea, and can be found wherever the water is reddened with the blood of the fallen.
Her betrayer avatar is Ibú Agana. She is her father's favorite, and very beautiful, though her body is deformed. When she betrayed her sisters out of spite, Olokun kept her as a slave and messenger as punishment. She loves duck feather fans and is the one who helps rainfall over the land.
Ibú Conla, "She Who Builds Ships," is another avatar of Yemaya. She is a poet and is found in the sea foam.
Ibú Mayelewo is Yemaya's creative, industrious avatar. She is found in the middle of the ocean, and it was she who painted the sky blue. She knows the ins and outs of commerce and has a calabash for her paints and a box where she keeps all of the money she has earned for her goods.
There is an avatar for everything in Yemaya's sphere -- from protective mother to pirate queen, and from gentle rain to rough surf -- and they are far too numerous to list in full. Each one is a powerful face of the orisha, but still only shows a single facet of her mysterious, complex, depthless nature.
Rituals To Invoke Yemaya's Blessings
The following are two rituals that are traditionally used to invoke the blessings of Yemaya in the traditions of Santeria. Overall, the rituals and offerings used to invoke the blessings of Yemaya are an important part of the traditions of Santeria, and are seen as a way to honor and connect with this powerful and revered deity. Other common rituals and offerings used to invoke the blessings of Yemaya include the setting of cowrie shells and aquamarine tumbled stones on an altar.
A Yemaya Boat Offerings Ritual
Call on Yemaya for issues of fertility, inspiration, acquiring ancient wisdom, blessings, compassion, inspiration, and female power. It is traditional to make Yemaya offerings and set them afloat on the water in a small boat. Write a note with your desires and thoughts on a small piece of paper. Anoint the paper with Yemaya perfume and place it on the boat. Focus on your intentions as you send your boat out to sea for Yemaya to find.
When calling on this Orisha for guidance, set some cowrie shells and aquamarine tumbled stones on your altar as offerings and anoint a Yemaya 7 Day Orisha Candle with Yemaya oil. Light some Yemaya Incense Powder in an Abalone Shell Incense Burner and repeat the following prayer:
Yemaya, Blessed Mother of the Seas,
Let Your Sacred Waters wash over me.
Mother, embrace me, Your humble child.
Cleanse me, Nurture me, Sustain me.
Yemaya, Beautiful One.
You Who wears the Seven Skirts of the Seven Seas,
Swirl around me and create a flow of energy
that can wash away all bane.
Yemaya, Mistress of the Moon,
Shine Your light onto me,
And fill me with your magic.
Help me to accomplish my goals
Yemaya, Healing Ocean Mother
I ask You to fill me with Your Healing Energy
Let Your Cleansing Waters wash over me
Heal me with Your Regenerative Powers.
As Yemaya is a mother figure, she is often called upon in times of childbirth. Present a Yemaya Statue with offerings of watermelon and yams. Wear a Yemaya Camino Necklace to invoke her strength and protection or present one to a loved one who is preparing to have a baby.
This strong and beautiful Orisha embodies the characteristics that all women and mothers strive to attain. Include her in your prayers and respect her power as you call on her to watch over you and those you love.
A Yemaya Bathing Ritual
As a deity of the waters, it is natural to request Yemaya's assistance in the form of a ritual bath. For this, you will need:
- Seven blue candles
- Peppermint oil or Bath & Floor Wash
- Sea salt
- Yemaya oil
- White roses
- Seven pennies
On a Monday, dress the seven candles in Yemaya oil and set them around the bath. Draw the bath, and light the candles. Once the tub is full, add the sea salt and either the Bath & Floor Wash or seven drops of Peppermint oil. Speak Yemaya's name, and ask her for aid with whatever you might need -- whether it is her industrious creativity, her nurturing, or her martial prowess.
When you are ready, step into the bath and allow yourself to sink beneath the calm, fragrant water. Visualize Yemaya's blessing touching every part of your being, giving you the things you need, and drawing away the things that no longer help you. When you are ready, step out of the bath.
Allow your skin to air dry. As soon as you are able to, take the pennies and white roses to the nearest natural body of water (preferably the ocean). Speak Yemaya's name again, and thank her for her blessings as you leave the coins and flowers as an offering. Go forth, knowing that you have received the blessings you sought. Repeat as often as needed.
Like every woman, Yemaya contains multitudes. From granting the healing touch of a mother, to the boundless prosperity of a merchant, to the secret knowledge of a diviner, there is virtually nothing she cannot do. Devotion to her brings her children many gifts, including wealth, health, fertility, and protection.