|The Goddess Yemanjá|
The goddess is known as Yemanjá, Iemanjá, Yemaya or Janaína in Brazilian Candomblé and Umbanda religions.
The Umbanda religion worships Yemanjá as one of the seven Orixás of the African Pantheon. She is the Queen of the Ocean, the patron deity of the fishermen and the survivors of shipwrecks, the feminine principle of creation and the spirit of moonlight. A syncretism happens between the catholic Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes (Our Lady of the Seafaring) and the orixá Iemanjá of the African Mithology. Sometimes, a feast can honor both.
In Salvador, Bahia, Iemanjá is celebrated by Candomblé in the very day consecrated by the Catholic Church to Our Lady of Seafaring (Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes). Every February 2 thousands of people line up at dawn to leave their offerings at her shrine in Rio Vermelho.
Offering to Yemanjá
Small boat with Yemanjá image, flowers and giftsGifts for Yemanjá usually include flowers and objects of female vanity (perfume, jewelry, combs, lipsticks, mirrors). These are gathered in large baskets and taken out to the sea by local fishermen. Afterwards a massive street party ensues.
Yemanjá is also celebrated every December 8 in Salvador, Bahia. The Festa da Conceição da Praia (Feast to Our Lady of Conception of the church at the beach) is a city holiday dedicated to the catholic saint and also to Iemanjá. Another feast occur this day in the Pedra Furada, Monte Serrat in Salvador, Bahia, called the Gift to Iemanjá, when fishermen celebrate their devotion to the Queen of the Ocean.
Outside Bahia State, Yemanjá is celebrated mainly by followers of the Umbanda religion
On New Year's Eve in Rio de Janeiro, millions of cariocas, of all religions, dressed in white gather on Copacabana beach to greet the New Year, watch fireworks, and throw flowers and other offerings into the sea for the goddess in the hopes that she will grant them their requests for the coming year. Some send their gifts to Yemanjá in wooden toy boats. Paintings of Yemanjá are sold in Rio shops, next to paintings of Jesus and other catholic saints. They portray her as a woman rising out of the sea. Small offerings of flowers and floating candles are left in the sea on many nights at Copacabana.
Culture/Origin: West African (Yoruba)
Yemaya is a West African creation goddess, often depicted as a mermaid. She is associated with the moon, the ocean and female mysteries. Typically portrayed as a beautiful woman, Yemaya governs the household and intervenes in women's affairs. She is a merciful goddess, invoked by women for aid in childbirth, love and healing. She rules over the conception and birth of children and ensures their safety during childhood. As a creation goddess, Yemaya's womb spilled forth the fourteen Yoruba goddesses and gods, and the breaking of her uterine waters caused a great flood, which created the oceans. From her body the first human woman and man, who became the parents of all mortal beings on earth, were born.
I nurture, heal, touch, bless, comfort and make whole that which is incomplete. I am within you and you need only look inside yourself to find my eternal presence.
Yemayaís name may be spelled Yemalla, Yemalia, and in many other ways. She rules the sea, the Moon, dreams, deep secrets, sea shells, ancient wisdom, salt water, fresh water, ocean secrets, the collective unconscious, and the surface of the ocean, seas, and lakes. Her many titles include Queen of Witches, Mother of Fishes, The Constantly Coming Woman, The Ocean Mother, Mother of Dreams and Secrets, Mother of All, Mother of the Sea, Holy Queen Sea, The Womb of Creation, Mother of Pearl, Stella Maris (star of the sea), and Yeyé Omo Eja, Mother Whose Children Are the Fish. In Africa she is Mama Watta, Mother of Waters.
The African disapora spread Yemaya's worship to the New World, where she was syncretized with Mary as Our Lady of Regla (Virgin of Madrid), and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. In Cuba she is Yemaya, Yemaya Achabba (stern aspect), Yemaya Oqqutte (violent aspect), Yemaya Olokun (powerful dream aspect), and Yemaya Ataramagwa, Queen of the Sea. In Trinidad she is Emanjah, a river goddess. In Brazil she is an ocean goddess called Yemanja and Imanje. In Haiti her name is Agwe, Mother of the Sea, and in New Orleans she is called La Balianne.
The cowrie shell is Yemaya's symbol, and fish are sacred to her. Her jewels include crystals, pearls, and mother of pearl. Blue, white, and silver are Yemaya's colors. Seven is her number. Yemaya is celebrated on February 2 and December 31, when offerings are made to her. She is also honored on September 7, September 9, and on the eve of Summer Solstice, by casting flowers and votive boats into water. There is a Brazilian tradition of the candelaria on December 31, lighting candles on the beach at midnight for Yemanje. Votive boats made from flowers are cast into the sea. It is a good omen for the coming year if she accepts your boat, and carries it out to sea. It is a bad omen if your offering is refused, and your boat is washed back upon the shore.
Yams, grain, soap, perfume, jewelry, and fabric are all traditional offerings to Yemaya, thrown into the sea. Rams are also sacrificed to her. Wear pearls or crystal beads to invoke her. To ask Yemaya to grant a wish or bestow a blessing, write her a letter and cast it into the sea.