I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
Peace on Earth
We travel to Africa to learn about the Nigerian Goddess Yemoja who is the main water deity in the Yoruba religion. Her name is a contraction of the Yoruba words Yeye, meaning mother; ọmọ, meaning child; and ẹja, meaning fish.
She is also called by many different names, which are listed in Wikipedia:
Yoruba: Yemọja / Iyemọja / Yemọnja / Iyemọnja
Portuguese: Yemanjá, Iemajá, Iemanjá, Janaína, Mãe da Água
Spanish: Yemayá, Yemoyá, Yemallá, Madre del Agua
French: La Sirène, Mère de L'Eau
Pidgin/Creole Languages: Mami Wata
In new age spiritual circles she is mostly referred to as Yemaya or Yemanya (like in the Goddess Guidance oracle card deck by Doreen Virtue), as they have adopted the Goddess from South America and the Caribbean, where she is more of a Seagoddess than a river one and is often depicted as a mermaid there. However, as she originates from Africa, I have opted for the more original approach, even though she is sometimes depicted as a mermaid even in West Africa, although the question is, how much this was influenced by the white colonial culture that reigned there for several centuries.
In the Yoruba religion, Yemoja is an orisha, a subordinate manifestation of the supreme divine, who gave birth to fourteen gods and goddesses. Due to the transatlantic slave trade, her cult has been spread to the New World and she has subsequently often been merged with the Catholic concept of the Virgin Mary.
Fierce, Nurturing Mother
Yemoja is a very loving and fiercely protective mother. She nurtures and cares for her children and cleanses them of sorrow and any other negative emotions. Devotees turn to her to cure infertility and cowrie shells are a symbol of her abundance. She doesn’t lose her temper easily, but like any mother, when she is angry, she can be violent and destructive, like the waters of a river in flood or a stormy sea.
Because of her association with water and fertility, she is associated with the moon and the feminine mysteries. From conception to parenting, over child safety, love and protection of women and children, to the feminine mysteries, she governs all aspects of a loving Mothergoddess.
As she governs the waters, she also oversees the deep mysteries and collective unconscious that are represented by seashells, the moon and the flow or stillness of water. The Yoruba mythology tells us that when her waters broke, there was a great flood and thus, rivers and streams were created. The first mortal humans were also created from her womb, so Yemoja is seen as the Great Mother of humankind, but also of all things living.
Yemoja is traditionally called upon for help during childbirth as she is also a fertility goddess, she loves children. She is invoked for all things to do with motherhood and raising children, protection for unborn babies, help in a crisis to do with a child and is an eternal parent. She also rules witchcraft, washing away sorrows, acquiring ancient wisdom, protecting the home, beauty, good fortune, good health and rain.
Yemoja’s colours are blue and white, and she is said to wear a dress with seven skirts that represent the seven seas, thus her association with the number 7. Gemstones connected with her are Lapis Lazuli, Aquamarine, Turquoise (light blue stones), Pearl, Coral, Mother of Pearl (ocean-sourced), Crystal Beads and Cowrie Shells. When meditating upon her symbolism, you can use these colours and stones to tune into the energy Yemoja represents and find her aspects and qualities within you.