Yemaya (also spelled Yemoya, Yemoja, Yemonja, Yemaja, Iemanja) is a widely worshipped goddess in the Afro-Carribean pantheon, associated with water and women.

History

Yemaya began as a goddess in the Yoruba tradition and was brought to the Caribbean and N America, later S America, with African slaves.

She is considered an orisha, which comes from the southeastern region of Nigeria, where these deities were considered guides sent by the creator or source to help humans live to their fullest potential on Earth. Some interpretations consider orishas to be a manifestation of an aspect of that supreme deity or source.

She was eventually synchratized in the US with figures such as the Virgin Mary, in order to appear to align with Christianity or Catholicism, because slaves were beaten and even killed for openly practicing their native African religions.

She is the goddess of water, beginning in Yorubaland as a goddess of rivers and streams, and eventually, the ocean. She is considered the mother of all bodies of water.

She is also the patron goddess of women, femininity, especially pregnant women, and children. She is seen as a very loving and maternal goddess. She also protects fishermen. She is also petitioned for healing, fertility, and love.

Yemaya is often depicted as a mermaid and seashells, particularly cowrie shells, are a symbol of her influence and love. When you hold a seashell up to your ear, it is her voice you hear whistling through it!

She is also the mother of Oya, the goddess of the winds.

Yemaya also provides comfort and strength during times of struggle, pain, and obstacles in life, encouraging us not to lose hope.

Associations

  • water and emotions
  • water signs, especially Cancer
  • Colors: blue, light blue, white
  • seashells
  • seaweed
  • quartz
  • white flowers
  • the Moon
  • Fish, peacocks, ducks
  • Number: 7

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