The Orishas: Yemaya
Known as the goddess of the ocean, the mother of all living things and the guardian of mothers and children, Yemaya is one of the most powerful Orishas worshiped in Santeria. She is a nurturing caretaker who watches over all things with a keen eye. The source of and controller of all waters, she is the quintessential mother. Yemaya gives life and offers support to all who inhabit the Earth. Her generous and protective nature endears her to those who worship her.
Yemaya works with the Orisha Olokun to rule the sea and all of the oceans. Olokun guards the tumultuous depths of the ocean, while Yemaya protects the upper surfaces of the ocean where the light reflects and living things thrive. She oversees the waves and the myriad of life forms that call the ocean their home. Together, these two Orishas create a balance that ebbs and flows as naturally as the tides.
It is said that Yemaya can cure women of their infertility. As she creates life, she also protects it during all of its happiness and despair. She reminds women to nurture their needs and celebrate their many gifts and strengths. The daughter of Oddudua and Obatala, Yemaya is mother to 14 Orishas, as well as Obafulom and Lyaa, the first human male and female and the ancestors of all humans.
The Image of Yemaya
Glowing with the radiance of the sun, Yemaya appears in flowing robes of vibrant blue and white. These colors are her favorites, as they bring to mind the rich blue waves and sea foam of the ocean. She is often depicted in a gown with seven skirts that represent the Seven Seas. She is also seen as a mermaid, with her beautiful blue tail gliding through the water and a necklace of pears and starfish around her neck. Yemaya is a lover of sea shells, pearls, fans and all things silver. Cowrie shells are sacred to her. The animals associated with her are peacocks, seabirds, ducks, fish and goats. Her feast days are February 2, June 22- The Summer Solstice, September 7 and 9, October 26 and December 31.
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 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.