Monthly Archives: October 2011


In memory of Piotr Baniewicz

and with a special dedication

to his family and friends



The goddess of ocean and protectress of women (especially the pregnant ones) and children. She originates from Yorubaland in Africa but her cult was spread in both American continets during the times of slavery.

The Yoruba people live in Nigeria, Benin and Togo and according to their religion Yemanya is the goddess mother and the patroness of women and the Ogun River. Yoruba’s deities are called orishas meaning ‘head owners’ and according to legends at first Olodumare the Creator brought to life a god – man Obatala and his wife.  From the relationship of their two children Yemanya and Aganyu a son named Orungan was born. As a teenager he revolted against his father and raped his own mother but when he was trying to do it again Yemanya cursed him and he eventually died. Grief-stricken Yemanya threw herself from the top of the mountain but then fourteen powerful Orishas (among them Oya the Goddess of Wind) emerged from her womb. Waters gushed from her body, flooded everything around and created seven seas.  Obafulom i Lyaa, the first man and the first woman,  ancestors of all the humanity, came into being from the bones of the goddess.  The whole life originates from her and it is interesting that the Yoruba people had believed in that before scientists discovered that life indeed came from the ocean and the oldest skeleton found by archaelogists belonged to an African woman.

However when their children were captured to slave ships and brought to work in America she abandoned her native land, she crossed the ocean and she followed them to protect in the worst moments of their lives. This is why she is one of the most important deities of  Santería.

Yemanya is a gracious goddess and women ask her mostly for the conception of a child and a successful  childbirth but also to heal them from diseases and infertility. She protects infants from a zygote till  delivery and guards them throughout their childhood. She has all the features of goddess mother, she watches over family, feelings, fertility and protects all that is typically related to femine, water and the moon: oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, ebbs and flows, hidden secrets, sea shells and intuitive knowledge. There is a division: Olokun is an Orisha of turbulent and dark  depths (according to different version Olokun is either man, woman or hermaphrodite) while Yemanya’s realm are the waters straight under the surface where the light is still visible and her daughter Oya the goddess of winds carries the drops  in the breeze to the land. In the project of the film ‘Secrets of the Sea’ of a Cuban director Gloria Rolando Olokun feeling neglected wants to flood the land but Yemanya crosses the way of furious  Orisha and gently peruades Olokun not to do it. A huge wave stops on the beach and when it retreats it leaves the mounds of corals and pearls. Olokun brings to the surface all that is unconscious, unknown and wild and what we prefer not to show to the outside world.

According to the legend Yemanya’s first gift to the humankind was a sea shell to allow people hear the goddess voice anytime they apply shells to their ears.

Her name is written in various versions, in Africa it’s Yemoja, Ymoja, Iemanja Nana Borocum, Iemanja Bomi, Iemanja Boci, in Brazil: Yemanjá, Iemanjá, Imanjá, in Cuba: Yemaya, Yemayah, Iemanya, in New Orleans: Yemalla, Yemalia, Yemana or Balianna. It originates from the abbreviation of the Yoruba expression ‘Yeye Emo Eja’ which means ‘Mother Whose Children Are Like Fish’ and shows the vastness of her maternity, fertility and dominion over the living creatures.  In Brazilian religion Candomblé she is worshiped as the Queen of Ocean, the guardian of seafearers and survivors from shipwrecks, moonshine spirit and female creative force. She is very often identified with Catholic Our Lady of the Seafaring and even worshipped along with her on Feb 2nd (neither Santería nor Candomblé forbid worshipping Catholic saints). In Rio Vermelho crowds gather on the beach at dawn to leave their offerings. Flowers are thrown into the ocean and various object representing women’s vanity such as lipsticks, jewellery, combs, parfumes, mirrors and fabrics are gathered in huge baskets. These are later taken to the sea by seafarers and a huge festival party begins in the streets. Similar celebrations syncretiting both cults take place on Feb 8th in other regions of Brazil. And on New Year’s Eve the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro gather on Copacabana beach regardless of their religious beliefs wearing white clothes to greet New Year, watch firworks and to throw white flowers and offerings to the sea hoping that the goddess will grant them their requests for the forthcoming year. Sometimes the offerings and the figures of goddess are sent in wooden boats such as this one:

If the wave takes the flowers and offerings away it signifies that the goddess accepted them and if the wave throws it back to the shore it is a bad sign. Small offerings and candles floating on the surface can be observed on Copacabana beach nearly every day. In the region of São Paulo the celebrations of Yemanya take place for the first two weeks of December on the beach near the city of Praia Grande where her statue is located. During that time the cars are decorated with the images of the goddess and her white and blue colours and thousands of people travel to the sea. And on Feb, 2nd in Pelotes in the region of Rio Grande do Sul at the end of Catholic celebrations the boats with the image of St. Mary stop on the sea to greet the worshippers of Yemanya holding her picture and the scene is observed by the crowds standing on the shore.

In Haiti and Cuba the worshippers of vodou regognize her as LaSiren (Mami Wata/Mama Watta – ‘Mother of Waters’) and she is also identified with Our Lady of Regla, a district of Havana, the patroness of its inhabitants of African origins. In Trinidad she is Emanja, the river goddess and in the religions of the Congo she takes the names of Kalunga, Mà Lango or Madré D’Agua – ‘Mother of Waters’. Judging by her images she is also strongly connected to Stella Maris  (‘Star of the Sea’). In Santería she has seven different caminos (‘paths’), to find out the details please check English Wikipedia.


She is sometimes presented as a mermaid or a beautiful woman emerging from the waves of the sea.


In Africa she is presented as a very old lady wearing black and mauve who has connection with a river, mud, swamp and earth. Her name is Iemanja Nana Borocum or Nana Burku.

However in the shops of Rio de Janeiro the images  of Yemanya who emerges from the waves wearing a dress with seven skirts symbolizing seven seas can be bought among the images of Jesus and Catholic saints.

Planet: full moon or crescent
Number: seven (just like seven seas)
Day of the Week: Saturday
Colours: white, blue and silver
Scent: raspberry and cinnamon
Gems: cristals, pearls, mother of pearl, coral, moonstone, quartz, turquoise
Animals: fish and all the creatures of the sea and ducks, doves, peacocks and chickens
Plants: oranges, tropical flowers,watermelons, yams, grains, seaweeds and other plants growing in the sea
Favourite offerings: melons, molasses, whole fried fish and pork rinds



This card represents a warm, caring and supportive woman, usually a mother, rather balanced, calm and not holding any grudges. Possibly many children.

Negative: a temperamental, moody and overprotective woman

Professions: seafarer, fisherman, scuba diver, underwater arachaelogist, traveller, tour guide.


As the goddess of ocean Yemanya represents both steadiness and variability: water itself is steady and its intensity is variable. Together with Olokun they form a pair symbolizing emotions: Yemanya protects the surface of the ocean surface (what is seen) while Olokun brings up from the depths what is unconscious, unknown and wild (what we do not want to show outside). Together they keep the balance between the twin elements: destruction – creation, violent power – the power of persuasion, anger – sympathy etc.

This is an important moment if your life, either the time of flow or ebb. If you think about introducing changes in your life, it is a great moment to throw yourself into deep water because it is more friendly than you expect. Do not hesitate, do not delay, do not drench yourself in questions, ‘Will I manage?’ You have all what is necessary to be successful and what you need right now is a change.  If this is the time of ebb, if you were hurt, if you were treated unfairly or you came across a life catastrophe, it makes no sense to pretend you are hard as a rock. Take an example from water the power of which is delicate and soft and yet it wears away the rock and eventually it breaks through it and finds the exit from the darkness.  Free your emotions. Cry if you want to and do not be ashamed.  Feelings are like water, you cannot live without them and it is useless to hold them back. Sooner or later the time of flow will come and everything will change.

Perhaps you will have to go into a journey, possibly far away.

Please pay attention that this card brings the features traditionally attributed to the element of WATER:

Positive: serenity, joy, spontaneity, ability to adapt, peace, purity of intention, empathy, receptivity, patience, depth, contemplation, deep insight, intuition, subconsciousness, unknown, mystery, dream, sleep, feelings, sympathy, forgiveness, protection, care, progress, creation, inspiration, art, imagination, fertility, maternity, cycles, changes, purification, healing, releasing from problems and past, sensitivity, subtleness and gentleness but also the power which cannot be hold back

Negative: hypersensitivity, variability, fussiness, jealousy, emotional lability, uncertainty, crying, passiveness, laziness, inertia, inability to make decisions, dependance, manipulating the feelings of others, taking the problems of others, depression, mistrust, delusiveness, violent anger, uncontrolled outbursts of emotions, unpredictability, holding emotions back, inability to express feelings, being huffy, permitting emotions to rule the behaviour, negative attitude to oneself


If you are in a relationship: If you are planning to start a family or to become a parent, this card confirms it is a good idea. Your partner is a very loving and caring person but also very emotional, remember it is easy to hurt him/her.

If you are single: This card suggests that you may find your emotional fulfillment abroad, in journey or with a foreigner. Beware of an unplanned pregnancy which may result from a random romance.


If you run your own business, you will achieve much more by travelling than by doing all in the same place.  Crossing borders is good for you.  Be careful with unresolved conflicts which may erupt anytime.


It is advised to examine the flow of fluids in the body (it is worth to consult with your doctor if the Doppler tests are necessary). Problems with diagnosing. Endangered parts of the body: blood and lymphatic vessels, reproductive organs (ovaries, Fallopian tubes, utero, cervix, vagina). Possible motion sickness.


 Yemanya in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Yemanya in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Yemanya in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Yemanya in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Yemanya in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild,  Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Yemanya in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild,  Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Yemanya in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Yemanya in The Goddess Power deck by Cordelia Brabbs

Yemanya in Goddess Inspiration Oracle and in the Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr where she represents the Major Arcan of Balance  

Yemanya in the Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano she is Queen of Chalices (Chalices represent the element of water).

Based on the English Wikipedia and the following pages (pictures  also come from these sites): , … oddess.htm , … yemaya.htm , … emaya.html , ,