The morning of the day I fell and broke my arm, I had a beautiful, blessed experience.
oyasdawta, my cousin who had declined the group lime the night before, in favour of a one on one with me, took me down to the beach we used to go to as kids.
Before I went into the water, I asked Mama Yemoja’s permission first, and once in, just sang and sang for her. I sang softly to myself, sang at the top of my lungs, just sang and sang for her.
During the whole ‘dip’ as we call those kinds of visits to the beach, I felt calm and at peace. At some point, five little fish appeared. They floated all around me, and I mean, they were right up underneath me. They kissed my arm and they just floated with me, drifted with me.
I was careful not to make any sudden movements, but they really meant to hang with me. They wouldn’t move.
Those little fish idled around me for almost an hour, and I sang for their mother, I sang for them and thank Yemoja for sending her babies to lime with me for the morning. I actually had to leave the water, thanking them for their company, before they went about their business.
When I told my Iya about it this week, she said, “See, Mama appreciates you. You’re special to her.”
All I could do was say, it was a surreal experience.
In IFA tradition, Yemoja/Olokun is both male and female. Yemoja is the female aspect, and she is called the Mother of the Fishes.
Praise for Yemoja (Whose picture is in the Mother with the Earth in her belly in the header above):
Elehin funfun ti i sowo
Owner of white teeth
Olowo gbade abiamo
The receiver of the crown of childbearing women
Omo l’Omileye ni iyaa mi
The one whom water gives prestige is my mother.
Omi alagbalubu omi orere
Mighty water of endless expanse
One who listens to our complaints
Okun asanya bii oloogun
The sea that avenges like a medicine man
Yemoja olomu akogbado
Yemoja, owner of extensively collecting breasts
Omu kan ko dun, bii omu Iyaa mi
No breast is as sweet, as my mother’s breast
Oja kan ko dara bii oja ororo
No baby’s sling is as good as Yemoja’s shining baby sling
Yemoja, is a female Orisha of the Yoruba Pantheon of Dieties. Her name means “Mother of Fish”. She is the Creator’s manifestation in the salt waters.
She is the offspring of the union of Heaven and Earth. According to Yoruba oral tradition, Yemoja is as old as the Orisha Obatala and so powerful, she was considered the most powerful Orisha of all; but because of her repeated anger raptures, she lost the World’s hegemony and was given the superficial part of the Oceans as her only dominion, which by moving from right to left, represent the ocean waves’ movements, her character and personality.
The cult of Yemoja is originally from Abeokuta, although the largest number of her devotees are from Egbado. It is said in Nigeria that Yemoja was born in the city of Bida, from the land of Nupe in the Takua region, where the Ogun river springs. Yemoja was the wife of Oranmiyan (grandson of Oduduwa, first King of Ife) and by him she bore Shango; she ruled in Oyo where she became as popular as many Obas (kings). This popularity earned her the titles of “The Nation’s Mother” and “Yemoja, Awa Oyo” which means “The Eldest of Oyo”. Yemoja was of a heroic character like her husband Oranmiyan and therefore became an Orisha.
The myth of Yemaya (as she is known in the Western World) also accounts for the origin of other Orishas and the founding of the Holy city of Ife (name that means distention, enlargement or swelling up). It is said that Ile Ife was built at the place where Yemoja once fell on the ground. Due to this fall, her abdomen became swollen and two streams of water gushed from her breasts. The streams joined and formed a lagoon and from her gaping body came Dada (deity of the vegetables), Shango (diety of lightening) , Ogun (diety of iron and war), Olokun (diety of the deep seas), Olosa (diety of the lagoon), Oya (diety of the Niger river), Oshun (diety of the Oshun river), Oba (diety of the Oba river), Orisha Oko (diety of agriculture), Ochoosi (diety of hunters), Oke (diety of the mountains), Aje Shaluga (diety of wealth) , Shoponna (diety of small-pox), Orun (the Sun) and Oshukua (the Moon).
Yemoja’s anthropomorphism is that of a regal, beautiful woman with big breasts. She is very maternal, protective yet rigorous; virtuous, wise, gentle and oftentimes fierce, her rage is indomitable; astute, fair, an excellent trader and provider, Yemoja symbolises the matriarch. She appreciates rich, sumptuous things, enjoys good company, music and dance.
Each avatar of Yemoja describes a specific place within her dominon and a different facet of this magnificent Orisha:
“The chain”. The oldest of the Yemojas; Olokun’s first born. Owner of the anchors. Her color is light blue.
“Fearless”. Fights next to Ogun. Her color is dark blue.
“Forgetfull”. Owner of the ducks, geese and swans. Her color is light blue.
“The one who tends to commerce and trade” Lives at the entrance of the Bay. Her color is light blue.
Yemoja Ibu Okoto
“The one who lives among the sea shells”. Her color is navy blue.
Yemoja Ibu Agana
“Enraged, demented”. Beautiful. Lives in the depth of the Ocean. Her color is deep blue.
“The ever so important”. She owns the treasures of the Sea. Her color is light blue.
All marine flora and fauna belong to Yemoja. She looks after the unborn child that “swims” in the mother’s womb. Yemoja watches over those who sail at Sea taking them to a safe port. Yemoja is life, for without water, there is none.