Do not give up, there is hope yet. A wish will be granted. A birth is imminent. Fertility is everywhere.
Yemaya started her life as an orisha – a river spirit – in Africa. As her people traveled over the ocean to other nations is slave ships, she became, over time, a goddess of the sea. Her cult spread to Brazil, and she is still worshipped today in both of these lands as a goddess of hope and love.
Yemaya is often depicted as a mermaid, slipping between waves with a light woven in her hair, and she is also considered the nourishing mother aspect of all water. Yemaya is invoked in childbirth, as it is said that she created the sea and every man, woman, and sea creature. She is an extremely loving goddess who assists women in particular. Many homes that follow the Santeria faith have a statue of Yemaya, placed by the most senior woman who lives there.
Yemaya is most renowned for her ability to grant wishes. Those who feel that there is no hope go to her for intervention. She specializes in impossible wishes, ones that look almost like miracles when granted. This wonderful ability spawned the ritual of Yemaya boats, a festival where thousands of people create little boats containing their wishes and hope that the goddess I’ll assist them. Each supplicant places a lighted candle in the boat and then sets it on the water. If the boat makes it past the waves before it delves into the deep, it is said that Yemaya will grant the wish.
Call upon the generous love of Yemaya when you feel hopeless or unsupported. Sometimes we all feel alone in something that we are struggling with – we believe that our family doesn’t understand us and that our friends aren’t seeing things from our side – and these are the times when Yemaya can help. Yemaya offers us a loving strength to help us know that there is hope and that things will change for the better. A long-held wish may well be granted when all else has failed.
There is a ritual based on the tradition of sending boats filled with wishes to Yemaya. This petition is most ideally performed by the sea or a river, but if there is no natural water body nearby, even a bath will do!
You will want to gather paper or leaves to make a boat; a small tea-Light candle; a gift to Yemaya, like a pearl, a seashell, or something silver; and matches.
Ahead of time, think about your wish and clearly state it in your mind. Now proceed to make your little boat. Write your wishes on the boat, or draw symbols upon it representing those desires.
Place the candle inside but be careful you won’t burn the boat when it’s time to light it. Carry the boat down to the water. Have your gift to Yemaya with you as well. Say out loud:
Yemaya, Yemaya, Yemaya.
Silvery goddess of the sea, moon blessed.
Goddess of women and wishes, please hear my voice.
Yemaya, I ask you to grant my wish(es) and help me flow like the incoming tide toward my highest good.
I humbly offer a gif to you!
Then throw the gift into the water.
Place your feet in the water. Now tell Yemaya of your wish. Don’t hold back, but keep it clear.
Light the candle and set the boat into the water. Be mindful of your safety, but if possible, place it past the first tiny waves. If you are doing this in a bath, let the boat float for a bit. Say:
I know you hear me. My wish comes to you.
Watch as your boat of wishes travels toward Yemaya. Watch it bobbing up and down over the “waves”, glowing, until she takes it below to the sea with her. If you are floating the boat in a bath, splash it until it sinks!
Express your gratitude, as Yemaya will now grant your wish. Act on any idea that comes to mind.
Reading from the deck “Goddesses and Sirens” created by Stacey Demarco