Updated: Oct 11, 2019
Yemaya, mother to all.
Sirens, mermaids and goddesses of the sea have been a part of humanity's stories for ages and while they are mostly depicted in a negative light as man eating monsters of the sea, Yoruba religion tells of a mother spirit of the ocean from which we are all born. This is her story.
AboutSanteria.com says, "Yemaya is the great mother who lives and rules over the seas. Water is essential to life, so without Yemaya, life on earth wouldn't be possible. Although she's maternal and nurturing, she's also fierce.
When she goes to war on behalf of her children, she wields a machete with expertise and no one can defeat her. Her eleke is made out of transparent crystal beads alternating with royal blue ones, in a pattern of seven, which is her number. Her day of the week is Saturday, and her colors are blue and white. Traditionally she wears a long flowing dress, cinched by a wide belt, with a full skirt made of blue and white ruffles, which represent the waves in the ocean."
Finding out that Yemaya is the mother of all 14 Orishas (demi-gods) left me curious as to how she was created.
As one of the eldest children of Olodumare, the Supreme Being or Creator of the Universe, Yemaya is one of the most widely worshipped of the Orishas or “demi-gods” associated with different elements or forces of nature. As an oral tradition, Yemaya’s attributes, manifestations, and origin stories can vary depending on where you are in the world.
Thaliatook.com says, "Yemaya was brought to the New World with the African diaspora and She is now worshipped in many cultures besides Her original Africa. In Brazilian Candomblé, where She is known as Yemanja or Imanje, She is the Sea Mother who brings fish to the fishermen, and the crescent moon is Her sign. As Yemanja Afodo, also of Brazil, She protects boats travelling on the sea and grants safe passage.
In Haitian Vodou She is worshipped as a moon Goddess, and is believed to protect mothers and their children. She is associated with the mermaid-spirits of Lasirenn (Herself a form of Erzulie) Who brings seduction and wealth, and Labalenn, Her sister the whale.
Yemaya rules over the surface of the ocean, where life is concentrated. She is associated with the Orisha Olokin (Who is variously described as female, male, or hermaphrodite) Who represents the depths of the Ocean and the unconscious, and together They form a balance. She is the sister and wife of Aganju, the God of the soil, and the mother of Oya, Goddess of the winds."
I hold the Yoruba religion in the highest reverence as it is the religion of my ancestors. There are many more questions I have about about Yemaya and the other Orishas. I foresee a Yoruba Lecture coming to Melanin Mermaid Mystic Shop very soon.