A Pagan's Blog

A Pagan's Blog

The Day of Iemanja

On January 2, millions of Brazilians go to the beach and make
offerings to Iemanja, Orixa of the ocean.  The teacher I studied with for six years  did it on New Year’s Day for some
reason, and so for almost 25 years now, whenever I was close to salt water, I made
the pilgrimage to make my offerings of flowers or molasses and corn meal.  (In my experience She likes flowers but
really likes molasses and corn meal.)

This year I did not do it on either the First or today, the
Second.  I’m laid up with a cold.  No energy and not much will power.  I asked the energies that pervade my
place whether I should go anyway, and got an “It’s OK to stay home.”  For which I was grateful. Because when
I go usually She responds to my offerings and respect spectacularly,
leaving me very wet.  Once I was picked up by an enormous wave and deposited snugly in a crack between two boulders twenty feet or so behind me. She seems to have my number.  I just wasn’t
up for it today. 



But even so, today is the Day of Iemanja, and though I am
writing this too late to do anyone any good in a legalistic sense, if She
appeals to you, toss in a flower or cornmeal and molasses the next time you are
at the coast.  As I shall

I found a wonderful Brasilian video and song to Her.  And another.  Enjoy!  

And here is a traditional “ponto” or song to Her that we used to sing at those celebrations.  Alas, my vestigial Portuguese doesn’t enable me to sing them myself anymore – enjoy

“Yemaya Asesu, Asesu Yemaya, Yemaya Olodo, Olodo Yemaya…”

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posted January 3, 2010 at 3:23 am

Thank you for this Gus.
My eldest daughter has a special connection to Yemaya through the shrine kept to her in the temple of the WCC where she grew up going to rituals. It was a gift to us from the local Caribbean community served by our High Priestess’s shop. As it is not my pantheon I don’t know much to share with her about this lovely Goddess. Having her day in our knowledge will help. All my daughter knows is that she loves her dearly and enjoyed leaving little shiny silver beads or rocks that she found on her shrine. And really, what more does a young girl need to know but that she loves a Goddess and is loved in return? Now that she is grown, more knowledge will help her to expand her relationship.

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Pat grimm

posted January 3, 2010 at 7:28 am

Whew are you guys in for a surprise when you die. Yemaya will not be there to greet you, but the creator of the entire universe will, and He is going to ask for an accounting, with love, but an accounting nevertheless. If you need the physical to satisfy you or random spirits, just look at the mountains, sky and moon that God created, He is in them. He is God.

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Cheryl Hill

posted January 3, 2010 at 10:34 am

So Pat, what drugs were you on the day you decided you knew everything there is to know about Life, Death and the Afterlife and were qualified to correct the beliefs of others?

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posted January 3, 2010 at 10:47 am

I’m always amazed when I see Yemaya depicted as white-skinned. She is originally an Ifa (Yoruba) deity, no? That blonde one in the video seemed particularly incongruous.

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Gus diZerega

posted January 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm

The most frequent depiction of Iemanja that I have seen is the blue dress clad brunette walking on waves. (I use the Portuguese spelling – I learned about her in that context. Yemaya is the Spanish spelling.) She is also in that mode on the statue in one of the videos. But given that we are dealing more with qualities than concrete depictions, Her representations are legion.
I strongly suspect that the producers of the video looked for depictions combining female beauty and the sea, for some of those pictures were probably not spiritually inspired when created. That they were deemed appropriate anyway I think supports this interpretation. I have a black skinned batik of Her on my wall.
I am struck with the far greater depiction of alluring sexuality, male and female alike, in Brazilian Paganism than over here. This is as true for the NeoPagan web sites I have seen as it is for the depictions of Iemanja. My guess as to why is that while Brazil is more captured by traditional sex role stereotyping than we are, so that the behavioral edges are less porous, there is far less distrust or denigration of sexuality there than here. For example, at least till recently there seems to have been the attitude that only women and gays could be “ridden” by the spirits. Heterosexual men were impervious, and so served as drummers, nor as people who incorporated. (That boundary thing again.) That is not the case in the US today and I wonder whether it is still the case in Brazil.

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Hecate Demetersdatter

posted January 3, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Thanks for the reminder. I am too far from the coast, today, and the bit of water that I go past — the Potomac River — is ice-crusted, but I will send a wish offering of flowers tomorrow.
When I die, I’m going to the Summerlands and Pat’s judgmental god can go pound sand.

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Cheryl Hill

posted January 3, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I have a CD titled “Ancient Mother – On Wings of Song & Robert Gass”.
Everybody who reads this blog has probably heard of it. There’s a very moving chant on this CD by African performers honoring Yemaya.

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posted January 8, 2010 at 12:11 am

Pound sand! hahaha Hecate, I love you :) and pound sand is about right too, bloody desert god!
*walks away, alternately swearing and laughing under her breath*

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posted January 21, 2014 at 12:54 am

Hi, just wondering how you felt about someone not of African, Portuguese, or Brazilian background honoring/worshiping Yemaya? Any help would be appreciated! Thanks.

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