There is a power, a force of nature, that rolls on the waves, and rides the high seas… her name is Yemaya. In the tradition of La Regla Lucumi (more commonly referred to as the Santeria religion) she is known as an Orisha, one of the divine forces of the universe. Many hear her sacred song of maternal love, kindness and blessing. She is customarily celebrated on September 7th, which coincides with the Catholic day for Diosa Del Mar, the Lady of the Sea. Shimmering stars fall from her hands as she rises above the ocean waves.
There are several ways to honor Yemaya, both for the initiated and the uninitiated. As many of you know I spend a fair amount of time lecturing and vending at Pagan events. Yemaya seems to have a special fascination for many Pagans even if they are unfamiliar with the Orisha religion. One year I had a group of my Pagan students go to the ocean to leave her offerings of flowers and cakes, they waited patiently as the waves rolled in and left them a message spelled out in the shells. It said “Pizza.” It seems that that group of ladies needed pizza to take care of themselves that day, so they and the universe indulged them. I still smile about it today. Unfortunately, recently I witnessed a large public ritual where a group of uninitiated and/or improperly trained people tried to invoke her, mispronouncing her name, and things went wrong. They went wrong quickly. Unlike many Pagan paths, these energies are not invoked, and certainly not by the uninitiated. That said, it is perfectly acceptable to leave offerings, make her ritual foods, and play her ritual songs on her feast day in order to honor the divine Orisha known as Yemaya. In past blog posts I have recommended the traditional Yemaya music of Lazaro Ros and Celia Cruz, I am happy to say I was recently sent a piece for Yemaya titled Siren Song by Vicki Burns, that is both beautiful and highly moving. Please check it out. For those wishing to cook something for Yemaya this September 7th there is a dish I recommend from my African-American Ritual Cookbook.Yemaya Coconut Rice – Click to see the recipe.
Alternatively you can choose to leave herbal offerings for Yemaya. They can be made into baths, floorwashes, or herbal packets. These botanicals include : Spearmint, Seaweed, Basil, Eucalyptus, Gardenia, Lemon Balm, Lotus, and Myrrh. Her sacred foods include Watermelon (uncut,) Molasses, Coconut, Pineapple, Fish and others.
To learn more about Yemaya please see the Voodoo Universe archives. And as always if you have benefited from what you have read here please do us a favor and remember to share, share, share !