Yemaya, Mother Goddess of the Oceans
Often depicted as a queenly mermaid, Yemaya is considered the Ocean Mother Goddess in Santería, an Afro-Caribbean religion practiced around the world. With anchored roots in the Yoruba religion, Yemaya was brought over to the New World by enslaved Africans as early as the 16th century.
As one of the eldest children of Olodumare, the Supreme Being or Creator of the Universe, Yemaya is one of the most widely worshipped of the Orishas or “demi-gods” associated with different elements or forces of nature. As an oral tradition, Yemaya’s attributes, manifestations, and origin stories can vary depending on where you are in the world (especially between Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and the US), including the pronunciation and spelling of her name.
Yemaya is perhaps the most nurturing of all the Orishas, and it’s believed that all of life comes from her deep nourishing waters. Her strong and protective energy can be found virtually everywhere, but especially near oceans and lakes. She’s associated with the numbers seven and ten, the colors blue and white, pearls, silver, conch shells, and doves. Offerings for her include molasses, coconut cakes, white flowers, and watermelon.