Monday, September 28, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Yemaya is the Yorùbá Orisha (Spirit or Deity) of the Sea. She is a great Mother Goddess and protector of women and children. Her name is a contraction of the Yorùbá phrase Yeye emo eja, which means, 'Mother Whose Children Are Like Fish,' i.e., multitudinous. She is honored in many of the sister religions of the African diaspora such as Candomblé, Lukumi (Santería), and Vodoun (where She is known as Lasiren).

In Africa She is the Goddess of the Ogun River in Nigeria; in the Americas She has become associated with the ocean. She is usually said to represent the surface of the ocean, however, not the depths; that is generally the province of the Orisha Olukun. Like the surface of the Sea She is usually fairly calm; but Her tempers are known to be quite stormy.

She is mother to many of the Orishas, and indeed is sometimes considered the mother of all living beings.

She is said to wear seven skirts of blue and white, symbolizing the seven seas.

I hear Her say: Let yourself run down to the Sea.

I think this week is about flow, in all its variations: going along with the flow, letting yourself flow into the path of least resistance, or drifting along with the currents of the ocean, even if the direction or destination is more spread out, less defined than a river's, or even if, like the great gyres of the oceans, the currents are in fact circular.

I am nervous, I will admit, about asking Yemaya what She thinks. I am a white woman, after all, and well aware of Neopaganism's oblivious tendency to appropriation; also I am an outsider and do not follow the Orishas myself. But I ask, because it is polite.

She says:

You are all my children. I am the Great Mother. The human race was born in Africa; all of your ancestors trace back to Africa. Some further than others, yes, but ultimately all from there. Remember this. Respect this.

Do not think I am not angry, O I am, very much so.

I am vast. I am the Sea. I am the largest thing by far on this planet. My memory is long and lasting; and what you do to me you do to yourselves.

Go to the water. Lift a shell to your ear and hear me. Listen to me. That is what I ask. That is what I demand. That is what will save you.

And stop being so damned hard on yourselves, you women. It stands in the way of getting things done.


Poppy Fields said...

When I read "Let yourself run down to the Sea", the first thought that popped into my mind was "Go back to the source". Thinking of it, this makes complete sense: the sea, Africa - sources!

I wonder if it isn't a prompt to dive into the sub-conscious too. The sub-conscious as the source of whoever and wherever we are right now, or even in grander terms of race memory? Water is such a powerful element for me; I've had a whole week of water dreams of every kind.

This is an exciting card to be drawn this week. It seems like, after all the dark & light and preparations of the past few months, now there can be movement and progress, if we can just. let. go. I hope so!

Anita Joy said...

I am a white woman and I love Yemaya because in the Goddess Oracle cards I have had for 20 years, she is portrayed as a mermaid. Appropriation of another culture's deity...hmmm.....would that in the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition?

Yup, I can see why Yemaya would be peeved. Nobody tells her who she can hang out with....

Inês Barreto said...

I'm brazilian and here in my country Yemanya is wildely worshiped.

In 2nd February, in the state of Bahia, there's a gret popular party. The people carries her image until the sea. Them, the sailors got to the sea and offer white roses, jewels, parfums and soaps (woman stuff) to the goddess. The popular belief is that the objects will remain in the deep of the sea if she like it, and will come back to the beach if she dislikes.

In my state, São Paulo, and in Rio de Janeiro, the party is in the 8th of december, because she is linked with Our Lady of Conception, celebrated in that day.

A braziliam religion called Umbanda, who is centered in the cult of the Orishas and their syncretism with the saints, has the goddess in its pantheon too. She is one of the Yabás, the women orishas who controls the waters. Yemanya (called Iemanjá) is the water of the seas; Oxum is the water of the rivers and waterfalls; Iansã is the water of the storm; and Nanã is the water of the swamp.

p.s.: sorry about my english...

serentan said...

O Thalia bless you!Those last words are a blessing and if you weren't here to ask, we'd never hear...
Like Poppy's perceptions, thank you, and Inez's teaching is a delight to learn. I live near a beautiful bay in Breizh (Brétagne), am called La Sirène there because I sing and there are many legends there of mermaids, and so am touched by this new to me goddess to honour, not to mention the wise words...Trugarez braz (thanks very much)