Yemaya is the ultimate universal mother. Yemaya also know as Yemoja, Yemanja Yemalla or La Sirène is the orisha of the ocean and all that inhabits in it. She is the water that pushes up against the seashores. She gives life in all aspects. Yemaya’s domain is all waters, the sea, rivers, lakes, lagoons all that is water she it. She is even the water that babies are held in for 9 months inside of there mothers womb. Yemaya is seen to be a woman that has big breast as she nurtures and tends to all existence. Her color is blue and all shades of it. The fishes are her children and messengers.
She is the patron orisha of all women and women that bare children. She is called upon a woman who is pregnant to ensure the safety of the embryo. During pregnancy a woman calls upon the orisha to make sure that the baby is safe and flows through the vaginal walls and becomes into existence into the human world. Yemaya is said to have nurtured and raised almost all the orisha. Her followers worship her all across the globe. From Africa to Brazil. All have gone and spoken with Yemaya. Even if you don’t think so, we have all at least once in our life gone to the ocean and dipped in and spoken with the ocean. That’s Yemaya and she hears all.
Yemaya is that celestial being that when one wants to be held, they can feel her grasps as a mother. She is that mother figure that you can talk to and explain or pour your heart out to and she will always listen. When one doesn’t have a mother to talk to, you can always speak to her by going to the ocean and sitting down by the seashore or lighting a blue candle at your place of dwelling and call upon her. You will feel that warmth embrace hover over you, that’s Yemaya. Also as a mother, she is a warrior and she will defend her children very quickly. She can be stern and punish her children as well. The same way a mother gives and teaches her children, the same way she can punish and teach you a lesson.
Pataki on Yemaya
One day Olofi was having a party in ara onu. He invited all of the orisha to come to the gala. So he sent word out with Elegua to invite all of the orishas. Elegua ran with the word as Olofi was having a party and he knew there would be lots of sweets for him to pick on. So Elegua came to earth and went to each orisha and gave the invitation on the party. House to house Elegua went spreading the news and of course getting paid for it by receiving candy, oti and smoked fish.
The orishas decided to take Olofi a gift as it was an honor to go to the palace of Olofi. Each orisha went on there way looking for gifts to take to Olofi. Obatala decided to take Olofi a white staff made out of pearls and gold. Ochun decided to take Olofi perfumes so the great king can perfume his body. Each orisha went picking up what they thought would be a nice gift for Olofi.
Yemaya received the invitation from Elegua but she had so much work to do in the seas and all parts of the world. She was still maintaining life on the lands and bearing gifts to her followers. Time went on and the date of the party was near and the orisha of the ocean still did not get her gift for Olofi. While attending to her domain, Elegua popped in and asked her what was she getting for Olofi. Yemaya looked at Elegua and asked him in what was he talking about. Elegua reminded her that Olofi was having a party in the heavens and that all of the orishas were required to attend and that they should all bring a gift. Yemaya with a shocked look on her face, called for one of her fishes to immediately take her to the shore so she can get something for Olofi. Her fastest fish came and rushed her to the shore where Yemaya proceeded to look for a gift that was honorable for Olofi.
Yemaya though and though and she did not have any idea of what to get Olofi. She went to the only thing that was open which was the market to see what she can get. Once she arrived at the market place she noticed that Oya was still there tending to the market. She asked Oya what was she getting Olofi and Oya replied that she was getting Olofi baskets of most beautiful fruits so that he may feast upon them. Oya told Yemaya to look around and hurry up and pick something as the party was just in an hour or so. Yemaya ran to every merchant in the market place and everywhere she went either they were closed or they didn’t have anything that would suit a king. Yemaya was very upset at herself because she had ample enough time to get a gift but she was tending to her children of the sea and children on land. Finally Yemaya came to the last merchant and asked him what he had. The merchant replied to Yemaya that the only thing he had was the head of 3 fishes and that was it. Yemaya looked at him with dismay and told him that she would take it. She knew she couldn’t walk into the palace of Olofi empty handed. The merchant wrapped up the 3 heads and gave it to Yemaya.
Yemaya went back home to the oceans and she proceeded to get dressed with her most luxurious blue dress. She adorned herself with all of her cowrie shells and pearls with corals. The great orisha had to look her best as she would be in the presence of Olofi. But in the back of her mind she still wasn’t content on the gift she got Olofi. There was no more time and nothing she can do. Yemaya took off to the sky to attend the party with her gift in a basket.
Yemaya arrived at the party and saw all the orishas with there best clothes on. She was saluted at the door by Elegua as the orisha of the sea. All orishas who were present bowed and paid Yemaya her honor. She mingled with all the orishas and started to ease her mind about the gift she bought to Olofi.
The trumpet sounded and Olofi entered the room and every orisha, animal and trees stopped to bow their heads to the great Olofi. Olofi sat on his golden throne and started to greet his court one by one. Each orisha started to bring their gift to Olofi. The great king, very happy and surprised accepted their gifts and blessed each and every one of them. Yemaya stood all the way to the back as she did not want to be making of mockery of her gift. After the last orisha gave Olofi his gift, Olofi called out to Yemaya and asked her for hers. She walked over to Olofi and told him that she was very sorry that she did not bring him a gift as she was tending to her children in the sea. Olofi looked at Yemaya and told her he understood but since he is Olofi he knows all and asked her what was it that she brought in that basket. Yemaya bashful told Olofi that it was nothing and Olofi told her in a soft voice to give him what she had in the basket. Yemaya opened the basket and there came out, a white plate with 3 heads of a fish. She was so embarrassed because first it was Olofi and second because what would all the other orishas think of her. She bowed and gave it to Olofi.
Olofi looked at it and asked Yemaya if this was the gift that she brought to him. Yemaya responded to him that yes it was. Olofi asked Yemaya if this is the sort of gift you give to a king. Yemaya started to respond when Olofi sat back in his chair and started to laugh. All the orisha silently started to laugh at Yemaya while she put her head down. Olofi told her to keep her head straight as this was no ordinary gift. He told her that the other orishas brought him gifts of great vain and beauty but she Yemaya brought him something that had significant meaning. Yemaya wondered what he was talking about while she raised her head .Olofi stood up and walked off his throne towards Yemaya. He took the plate that held the head of the 3 fishes and told Yemaya that the same way she brought him a head, he would make her head of all waters. While he said that the head of the 3 fishes turned into 3 separate beautiful crowns made of nothing but silver and gems. He placed one crown on top of Yemaya and told her that from this day forward she will be queen of the oceans. He placed the other crown on her head and told her that from this day forward she will be queen of the lands and he placed the last crown on her head and told her that from this day forward she will be queen of the heavens. The 3 crowns glowed and became one big crown. Olofi then proceeded to tell her that her crown will always be recognized in every ceremonial birth. Her color blue can not be excluded from any ceremonial births as she is a queen. She as an orisha does not have to wear her crown because it is not forever bestowed on her and she is always to be known as royalty.
Yemaya saluted Olofi in the tradition of lying side by side and Olofi picked her up. He then told her to face the court and had everyone come and salute the new queen of the ocean, land and heaven. One by one all the orishas came and paid respect to Yemaya. After the party she was escorted back to the seas by Olofi’s high court with trumpets that sounded as she entered the ocean and saw her new castle that was given to her by Olofi. She looked up into the heavens and saw Olofi looking down on her and she crossed her hands asking for blessings. Olofi blessed her and she asked him why he bestowed her that honor as a triple queen. Olofi told her that he did it since she is always tending to her children of the seas and of the lands. He told her that she catered to her children so much that she didn’t have time to even get him a gift that he did not require for anyone to bring. Olofi told her that each gift brought to him was a gift from the heart and he sees where her heart lies. Yemaya sat on her gigantic throne flushed with gold, silver, pearls and corals and all the fishes of the sea came to pay respect to the new queen of the sea
Yemaya’s feast day is September 7. Her color is blue and all tones of it. She is synchronized with Our lady of Regla. Her number is 7 and all multiples of it. In the home of her followers she resides in a blue and white tureen where her tools and mysteries are kept. Yemaya has traveled all around the world as why she has many paths. Yemaya loves everything that is motherly. She loves jewelry, sea rocks, corals and mirrors. Her sacrificial foods are rams, roosters, ducks, guinea hens, swans and gooses. In some paths she loves turtles as well. Yemaya loves all types of fruits and sweet cakes. Plantain chips fried pork chunks are her favorite. She loves the sweetness of oni (honey) as that is he sisters gift to the world but she loves the taste of her own syrup which is melao (cane syrup). All of her offerings are taken to the ocean where she dwells. Her children are said to be mother figures in the world. They can be very loving and can be very stern. They can be very appeasing and very hostile in their warrior aspects of their mother Yemaya. You can call on Yemaya when you need advice, female powering, having children and wealth. Also being a warrior, Yemaya is also a smart and great witch. Her spells and magic vast far and beyond and as quick as the oceans wave move, her magic is quicker. You can use her for love spells and money spells. In Palo Mayombe Yemaya is associated with Madre Agua, a fierce water deity who is a witch not to be denied.
When Yemaya makes her appearance at a festival, she mimics the ocean waves at its best and its worse. She is said to continuously spin in circles as a whirlpool. Its said that she does this because she is looking for the crown that Olofi gave her. Elegua was in her domains visiting the queen orisha and he knocked over her crown that began to fall to the bottom of her waters. She started to spin and spin looking for her crown. Once she did not find it, she went on land seeing if her son Elegua took it on land. She is the sister of Ochun in who Yemaya gave Ochun some of her riches. She is the mother in different aspects to all of the orishas. She is the orisha that raised the divine twins of Chango.
Yemaya is also the protector of all fishermen. When they are out to sea, it is said that she watched over them and give them her children so that humankind can survive. When they disrespect Yemaya, she causes gigantic waves that come aboard there vessel sometimes even turning it over. It is said that her domain is also an enormous cemetery as there is so many deaths that happen at sea.
Paths of Yemaya
This is said to be one of the oldest Yemaya. Her colors are light blue with off white beads. Also touches of green and yellow given to her by her husband Orula. She is known as the captain of the boat and her main attribute is the anchor. She also takes an ekuele (divination tool of Ifa) and the irofa (divination brush of Ifa). She is a stern mother and she talks to her children given them her back. When she comes down that’s the way she addresses the community.
This Yemaya is one of the main warrior and violent paths of Yemaya. Her color is dark blue with red. She wears a mariwo around her waist. She also carries the chain that holds her husbands Ogun tools around her waist when she is going to battle. She is a quick and strong warrior. Okunte also knows the roads of sorcery. She lives 6 months in the water and 6 months on land. It is said that when high waves come upon crashing on land, it is Okunte that is stepping on the land for her 6 month trial changing and shaping the land. When Okunte comes down, she mimics swaying her machete from side to side. She loves to drink oti and smoke cigars. Her main attribute is the machete.
This Yemaya lives in the middle of the ocean. She is the owner of the 7 water currents that make up our 7 seas. She also looks at her followers form the side of her face. She is a merchant as she knows the trade of goods. Mayelewo was the orisha that Olofi gave the colors of the world. She painted the skies blue alongside Ibu Asesu. She was also entrusted by Olofi to distribute the colors of paint to the other orishas. With her blue dress, she also wears a belt with 7different colors. She takes a mask and a juiro (empty calabash) where she holds her paints and different secrets. Her main attribute is a little box where she keeps all of her money that she makes at the marketplace. When she comes down, she spins like the ocean waters and dances with plates just as in the house of her followers, she lives in a basket surrounded with plates.
Ibu Okoto is another warrior aspect of Yemaya. She resides in the red sea. This Yemaya is the orisha that is seen where there is blood shed at sea. She watched over war ships especially when they are at battle. Her color is also dark blue and blood red. She was a virgin and she did all that the young male orishas did. You can say like a tomboy. One of her main attributes is a flag. Whether it is a blue flag or a pirate flag. When she comes down she looks like she is stabbing herself with daggers to soak the blue waters red.
This path of Yemaya lives at the seashore where the foam of the water is created. She is the owner of ducks and gooses. Her color is light blue, off white and coral. She is the inseparable daughter of Olokun. She takes a set of masks and a little drum. She is forgetful like the duck in which she always forgets the petitions of her children. It may take her some time to remember, but when Asesu remembers she comes with great force.
This Yemaya lives in the depths of the ocean waters where the coral reefs and fishes reside. Her colors are like Ibu Asesu. She takes a small treasure box where she places her treasures of the ocean. She is the guardian of the coastline where there are trees and grasslands.
This Yemaya is very mysterious. She lives within the dead of the ocean and she resides over them there. Her color is dark blue and onyx. The followers of the Yemaya should keep her behind a curtain with a mask.
This Yemaya is the owner of all the riches within the sea. She is said to have treasures that have been lost from the beginning of time. She takes chains of pearls, conch shells, and other treasures of the ocean.
This Yemaya is said to live at the ocean floor with Olokun. She was the wife of Orisha Oko. She is very beautiful but has 7 balls on her womb. One leg bigger than the other. Olofi’s favored daughter and she is now married to Olokun. She works closely with Oroina and it is said that she is the one that helps it to rain over land so the water returns back to her. Her colors are a deep blue with coral. She takes a mask and a fan made of coral.
This Yemaya is known for making the oceans waves very rough that human kind enjoys when they go to the beach. She is the one that causes the waves to go high where surfers especially enjoy surfing. Her colors are deep blue, crystals and off white.
This Yemaya is known for her arrogant ways. She loves to debate. She is the mother of Inle and Ochosi. Her colors are deep blue, off white and amber.
Ibu Oggun Asomi
She is the sister of Okunte. She is just like her sister with all of her warrior attributes. She takes 2 machetes where she wears at her side. She resides in the superficial part of the ocean. She like her sister loves to drink and smoke and share the same colors.
There is many more but to long to list. The other aspects are more profound within the Ifa traditions.
The family of Yemaya
This is the orisha that is in charge of all the aquatic plants of the ocean,
She is the orisha of the lagoons. Also said to be one of Olokun’s daughters or wives. She is said to have saved the children of Yemaya and Ochun from a trap from the babalows. Her messengers are the crocodiles.
This orisha is said to live in lakes.
Yembo is the great mother of all the orishas. They say that she is a path of Yemaya in the aspect of Oddudwa. She is the orisha that gave birth to the orishas. She is the calm seas at the seashore. Stories said that Olodumare had installed in her the different orishas to grow and nurture from her womb. One day she fell at the seashore and the orishas all came from her wombs. She is a great mother aspect in our religion and through her the real crown of Yemaya was born. Her secrets are kept in a white or blue sopera, depending on house or rama you come from. She also takes the secrets of Yemaya and Obatala in her vessel. All of her sacrificial animals are white and must be clean. Her sacrificial foods are not used with a knife as she had a very disrespectful encounter with her son Ogun. For that she uses a bamboo knife for her foods. Her colors are blue and an off white color.