Origins

Yemaya is a mother goddess, signifying home, fertility, love, and family. Her healing powers are carried in the great waters, her energy powerful during the ebb and flow of life challenges. Like water she represents both change and constancy, bringing forth life, protecting it, and changing it as is necessary.

Yemaya's colors are blue and white, and she is said to wear a dress with seven skirts that represent the seven seas. Sacred to her are peacocks, with their beautiful blue-green iridescence, and ducks. The number seven is hers, also for the seven seas.

Yemaya was brought to the new world with the African displacement and is now worshipped in many cultures around the world, particularly Brazil, Haiti, Uruguay, and Cuba.

 

HISTORY

In Yoruba mythology, Yemo̩ja is a mother spirit; patron spirit of women, especially pregnant women; patron deity of the Ògùn river, but she is also worshipped at streams, creeks, springs in addition to wells and run-offs... anywhere there is water flowing. Her name is a contraction of the Yoruba words "Iye omo eja" which means "Mother whose children are like fish." This represents the vastness of her motherhood, her fertility, and her reign over all living things. In West Africa, Yemoja is worshipped as a high-ranking river deity, but in Brazil and Cuba she is worshipped mainly as a sea/ocean goddess. It is Olókun that fills the role of sea deity in Yorubaland, while Yemoja is a leader of the other river deities. Since the river deity Yemoja is also a mermaid, she can visit all other bodies of water, including the sea, but her home and the realm she owns is the river, especially the Ogun River in Nigeria.

 

NAME VARIATIONS

Yoruba: Yemo̩ja / Iyemo̩ja / Yemo̩nja / Iyemo̩nja

Portuguese: Yemanjá, Iemanjá, Janaína, Mãe da Água

Spanish: Yemayá, Yemallá, Madre del Agua

French: La Sirène, Mère de L'Eau

 

EPITHETS

Ashaba, in Her protective aspect; Oqqutte, in Her angry aspect: Atarmagwa, the wealthy queen of the sea; and Olokun as Goddess of dreams.