No matter when you celebrate it, the new year is a time for setting yourself up for the months ahead. Spells and rituals for setting intentions and creating the life you want to live are a perfect way to begin the year anew. Yemaya is one of the deities associated with the new year, and she is given prayers and offerings to help bring good luck and happiness to those who honor her.
Yemaya - Ocean Goddess
Yemaya originated as a river goddess to the Yoruba. She is a mother to most of the deities in the Yoruba pantheon, and is associated with family, love, fertility, and the comfort of home. As people were stolen and taken across the sea as part of the slave trade, Yemaya became an ocean goddess -- deity of the light, gentle, upper part of the sea, while Olokun rules the darker waters deep beneath the surface.
Water is renewal. It changes everything it touches, cleansing what needs to be cleansed, and shaping what needs to be shaped the way a river carves a path through the land.
Yemaya and the New Year
In Brazil, Yemaya is honored on New Year's Eve. Their New Year falls right after the height of summer, so the people of Rio de Janeiro dress in blue and white, go down to the beaches to dance, celebrate, launch tiny wooden ships, float roses and gladioli on the water, create small, temporary altars to Yemaya, and offer prayers of thanks and wishes for happiness in the coming year.
Even if your culture doesn't celebrate New Year's eve during summer, Yemaya is still associated with the renewing energy that the new year brings. It might not be warm enough to dance on the shore, but it is still a good time to give prayers and offerings to bring you luck and blessings.
Prayers and Offerings to Yemaya
Yemaya enjoys offerings of candles, fish, fruit, rice, molasses, sweet dumplings, caramel corn, perfume, sachet powder, and mirrors, among others. The simplest way to give her offerings is to make them directly to the sea. Some of her worshipers seek a spiritual cleansing by covering their bodies in molasses, and walking into the sea. As the water rinses the molasses away, creating a powerful symbolic cleansing, they give offerings of white or blue flowers and seven pennies. In Brazil, it is common to make a papier-mache vessel, decorate it with symbols of Yemaya, and fill it with her favorite offerings before letting it float away on the sea. Sometimes, this is followed by lighting a candle set into the sand.
However you choose to honor Yemaya, it is important to express gratitude to her for the good luck and blessings you have received. Praying to her does not have to be complicated, it can be as simple as:
Our mother, Yemaya, I thank you for the blessings and joy given to me last year.
Please make this year even better, by bringing me twice the number of good things, and removing half of the bad.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
If you are able to, create a temporary altar for her beside the sea. Anoint a Yemaya 7 day Orisha candle with Yemaya Oil and light some incense. Give her offerings of perfume or cologne, her favorite foods, pennies, flowers, or any of the other items mentioned above. If the weather is too cold to enter the sea for a cleansing, say your prayer and return home for a spiritual Yemaya bath, holding the love and power of the goddess in your heart.
The following year, remember your good luck in your prayers. Be sure to remember any blessings you have received, name them, and express your thanks. Life can never be entirely without bad things -- the sea is a powerful source of beauty and life, but can also be tumultuous and dangerous -- but giving thanks and asking to lift some of your burdens can help bring you more joy than sorrow.
Yemaya is a powerful, caring goddess who comforts and protects her children. Like the rolling waves of the sea, she can offer spiritual cleansing, blessings, and abundance. If you need some help lifting your burdens and bringing more joy into your life next year, consider making offerings to her at the seashore and requesting her help.
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