Yemaya is supposed to be the Goddess of the Sea from whom all the other humans and gods come. The Goddess originates from Yorubaland in Africa but Her cult was spread in both American continents during the times of slavery.
She is very protective and caring and is one of the most important deities of Santería (a religion of Caribbean origin).
The Yoruba people live in Benin, Nigeria, and Togo and according to their religion, She is the goddess mother and the patroness of women and the Ogun River. As all life is thought to have begun in the Sea, all life is held to have begun with the Goddess. She represents both variability and steadiness: water itself is steady and its intensity is variable.
The Goddess has all the features of goddess mother: She watches over family, feelings, fertility and protects all that is typically related to feminine, water, and the moon, oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, ebbs and flows, hidden secrets, seashells, and intuitive knowledge.
Additionally, She reminds women to take time out for themselves, to nurture their own needs and to respect their deserved position in life. Also, the Goddes is commonly invoked in fertility rituals for women and in any ritual concerning women’s issues.
Today the Goddess is known by many names, such as – Mother of Pearls, Yemoja, Yemonja, Yemalla, Mother Ocean, Yemana, Mother of Dreams, Ymoja, Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), Iamanje, Yeye Omo Eja, Iemonja, Mother of Water, and Imanje.
According to the legend, Goddess Yemanya’s first gift to humanity was a seashell to allow people to hear the Goddess’ voice anytime they apply shells to their ears.
She is usually portrayed as a mermaid or as a beautiful woman emerging from the sea – frequently with pearls pouring from her palms. Goddess Yemaya’s colors are white and blue, and She is said to wear a dress with 7 skirts that signify the 7 seas. Her symbols are shells, particularly cowrie shells.
The most predominant expression of the Goddess is that of a gentle and nurturing Divine Mother.
In Haitian Voodoo, Divine Mother is worshiped as a Moon-Goddess and is acknowledged to protect mothers and their children.
She is also adored and revered in Brazil on the Summer Solstice and other festival days include September 7th and February 2nd. In Santería, the Goddess is the owner of the seas and oceans, as well as the mother of all living things.
In Montevideo, followers gather on Ramirez Beach in the Parque Rodo neighborhood every February 2nd to celebrate Iemanja Day. Hundreds of thousands of people sit waiting for the sunset before they launch small boats with offerings into the ocean.
Yemaya Assessu mantra lyrics:
”A celebration of the moment when the river meets the ocean.
Yemaya is the goddess of the ocean and the mother of all goddesses.”