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Mythologically Speaking: Yemaya

Mythologically Speaking: Yemaya


We do our best to research as much as we possibly can to write these posts. We're human, not gods - there may be mistakes. Please correct us nicely and we will change it. We do thorough research, but sometimes miss a detail. 

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If you want more Orisha talk, check out our feature in the For The Love Of History Podcast coming out on May 24th!

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"Ashley, when are you going to stop talking about the Orishas?"

Never. I will literally never shut up about this.

This episode was supposed to be a different deity, but I walked into my local East Meets West store, saw the statue of the Seven African Powers that I've never seen them carry before, and took it as a sign. I'm going to continue to talk about them. So, I hope you like learning about the Yoruba deities!

The next Mythologically Speaking is going to be different - I swear. 


If you haven't read the first Yoruba Divinities segment of Mythologically Speaking, you can read Oshun's story (at least, a shortened version of it) here.

Today, we're still talking about the Girlies, okay? It's about Yemaya!

If you only know Greek Mythology, let's call Yemaya like an Amphitrite/Gaia mix. She's the mother of all Orishas. It's believed that all of our life comes from her and the deep waters she resides in, making her the mother of all, really. 

She is known as one of the oldest and most powerful of all of the Orishas. Her origins come from the Yoruba tribe, but the first stories of her name her as only the goddess of the river Niger. While she's the goddess of waters, you need to understand that she's also a goddess representing emotional healing, nurturing love, fertility, and protective energies. 

With the slave trade in the 1500s, name has gotten several spelling iterations over the years. You can spell her name like Yemaya, Yemaja, Yemònja, and Iemanja. 

Yemaya is usually displayed as a beautiful mermaid type woman, with or without a tail of some sort, dressed head to toe in a rich shade of blue and white, wearing conch shell jewelry. She's usually drawn with large breasts, symbolizing her motherhood and nurturing nature. 

There's no question that she is a goddess of the water and of us all. She is the most widely worshipped Orisha throughout Santeria (and other Afro-Caribbean spiritualist) practitioners. 

While Olokun is also an Orisha of water, it's almost completely understood that Yemaya is stronger. 

When you call upon her, you do not fall on deaf ears. She hears the cries and the pleas of her children and wishes to help. 

So, if you're interested in getting closer to her (with respect and if the practice is open to you ONLY), go to the beach, river, lake, or any body of water and just chill, talk to her, and let her hear you. 

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