Who is the goddess Yemaya and why does she sometimes appear under the guise of the Blessed Virgin Mary?
Yemaya is known as the Mother of Waters, and also as "the mother of the fishes" (and the fish symbol, used as a symbol of Christ to this day, is associated with her also). She is said to dress in seven skirts of blue and white.
Is she a goddess of the ocean, a goddess of creativity and ancient wisdom, representing not only physical fertility, but also the loving power which creates and sustains all things?
The religious path in which Yemaya is honored has been variously named Yoruba, Regla de Ocha, Ifa, Santeria or Voudoun.
More information on this path and on the orishas is available at OrishaNet.
Yemaya is often associated with Isis, a goddess to whom the Blessed Virgin Mary has often been compared.
Mary has also been called the Star of the Sea (Stella Maris).
Yemaya has been depicted as the wellspring and fountain of life. She is also depicted as a mermaid, and is associated not only with the ocean, but also with the moon and lunar mysteries.
In some legends, she appears as the original Creatrix-Goddess who is raped by her son, the patriarchal God. In this version she dies in giving birth to humanity and the world as we know it, and yet is not totally destroyed but remains present in spirit to nurture and sustain her creation. In this version, her story has much in common with that of Tiamat, the primordial goddess of the waters (depicted here by artist Joanna Powell Colbert), who is defeated and killed by a male God, yet paradoxically becomes the source of all life; or the Gnostic Sophia, whose "fall" (like the so-called "sin of Eve") engendered the world as we now know it.
Yemaya according to the Goddess Workbook
She has also been described as "the deity who symbolizes the sea and masquerades as the Virgin Mary."
Santeria: A Once-Hidden Faith Leaps Out into the Open
She is among the ocean and water goddesses honored in contemporary neo-pagan women's spirituality, for example at Abby Willowroot's Ocean Mother altar.
Another image of the Star of the Sea, known as Mari, as Yemaya and by many other names, is Joanna Powell Colbert's Stella Maris.
Another depiction of Yemaya.
Listen to a RealAudio clip from the album Renewal, by Kiva, entitled "Yemaya" here.
Under construction graphic is by RowanSterling.
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