In honor of World Oceans Day amidst the tumultuous seas of 2020, let’s talk about how we can connect with Yemaya, goddess of the ocean, and channel her energy to aid in the healing of our planet.
Even if you are not anywhere near the ocean right now, you are living on a planet that is over 70% water. We all evolved from organisms that started off in the ocean, and water still makes up 60% of the human body. As the original source of all life on this planet, the transformative power of the ocean will always be a part of us. By reminding ourselves how to connect with Yemaya and the powerful force of creation she represents, we can embody her graceful strength as we continue to fight for the right for life to exist peacefully on Earth.
One of the most widely worshipped Orishas (which translates to “Deities,” “Divinities,” or “Gods”), Yemaya’s origins are in the Yoruba religion of Nigeria. Originally a river goddess, her traditions were preserved by those forced across the ocean in slave ships, making her known as the goddess of the ocean in the process.
Often referred to as the “Mother of All” life on Earth, her energy is loving, nurturing, healing, graceful, and motherly. But just like the ocean she represents, she can be incredibly courageous and fierce when necessary, manifesting as a tidal wave to destroy enemies in her wake.
Devotion to Yemaya has survived despite the best efforts of Christian missionaries to stamp out all traces of goddess worship. Victims of the transatlantic slave trade secretly preserved her rituals even after arrival in Cuba, where they had to disguise her practices under the veil of worshipping Mary. This meshing of the Yoruba religion with elements of Roman Catholicism laid the foundation for the Santería religion as well as several others that carry on Yemaya’s traditions today.
Yemaya’s legends have provided comfort and strength throughout history’s oppressive atrocities. Unfortunately the very fucked up practices that forced her worship into hiding have shaped the corrupt police system in the United States today. By channeling her energy and wisdom, we can call on her to aid in the destruction of oppressive forces, as well as for the protection and healing of those who need it.
In addition to being the source of life, the ocean is also the source of some of our planet’s greatest mysteries. With roughly 95% of our oceans (and 99% of the ocean floor) still unexplored, new life forms and features are continuously being discovered. (And have you seen what has been discovered so far? The ocean is not one to be fucked with.) The ocean is truly the planet’s all-powerful, eternally mysterious force of creation and destruction that has survived throughout centuries of fucked-up shit. Her wisdom and strength can be called upon to lend in our efforts to make the world a more harmonious place.
Look, I’m not going to recommend you travel to or swarm the beach right now. But if you are planning a trip to the ocean anyway, you can connect with Yemaya by bringing offerings:
-Music: sing or play an instrument to the sea
-Flowers (blue and white are her favorites)
-Fruit, especially melon and citrus
-Molasses and sugar cane syrup
(Please refrain from putting non-biodegradable things in the ocean. She doesn’t need any more wine bottles, people.)
Even if you are nowhere near the ocean, you can do this in the spirit realm via meditation.
Consider putting ocean sounds on in the background as you do this. Whether you are listening to waves or imagining them, try to time your breath with the waves, inhaling and exhaling with the movement of the tide.
To create an altar for a meditation with Yemaya, place in front of you:
-Shells (legend has it you can hear her voice through a sea shell, so if you have one, put it to your ear)
-Silver; seven is her number, and seven silver coins or rings can be used as an offering
-Anything representing the ocean, such as blue and white objects, figurines of sea creatures and mermaids, water, etc.
Allow powerful emotions to wash over you: first you may feel a wave of sadness, grief, even anger; then creativity, transformation, passion, and love. You might feel them all at once, like thousands of currents pulling you in different directions. Reach out energetically to the motherly loving energy of Yemaya, and she will reach back out to you.
Visualize casting a gift out to her waters, and envision her blessings flowing back to you. Breathe deeply into the serenity that follows, embracing her protective and nurturing energy. This is her essence that must be channeled through us and into our world.
Remember that all life on our planet came from the ocean; by reconnecting with Yemaya’s unstoppable creative force, we can channel her energy into the creation of a better life on land, too.
To instantly manifest this energy as action, please join me in signing this open letter to reallocate resources from our police forces, which originally enforced slavery and is still perpetuating its horrific cycle of racial injustices. It is time to redistribute funding to better support alternatives that will better support, nurture, and actually protect our communities.