Yemaya: Blessing of the Waters

This coming Saturday evening (18 January) will see the annual Yemaya: Blessing of the Waters ritual held down at Grange, Adelaide. For over ten years I have lead a special beach side rite honouring the Yorùbá Orisha or Goddess of the living ocean Yemaya (also spelt Yemoja and Iemoja). Normally it takes place around the first Full Moon of the calendar year. However, due to personal commitments, it is taking place a week later.  After experiencing a run of extremely hot weather, Adelaide is forecasted temperatures around the mid 20Cs, bringing with it the anticipation of it being a rather pleasant evening.

Originally from West Africa where her name means “Mother whose children are like fish”, Yemaya is the owner of the Ogun River and a lake named for her.  As the African diaspora occurred, Yemaya traveled with her children to the Americas and Caribbean, where the Mother of Waters became known as Mother of Oceans. 

Being an “open” ritual, everyone is most welcome to participate in this event which will include a water blessing that included part of a prayer from Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Thanh.  After all the great waterways of the world are honoured, participants will be invited to empower their offerings with their desire which will then be presented Yemaya.

The standard offering to Yemaya is the sea-shell as this was the first gift she gave humans so that her voice could always be heard. Flowers (preferably white) are also welcomed, as is champagne, molasses, even pebbles and melon.  All offerings will be cast into the sea for Yemaya.

Slices of watermelon (sacred to Yemaya) will be shared amongst participants after a libation is given to the Goddess of the waters, the seas, the oceans and the rivers.

Water is such a precious gift that we often take for granted. Australia is currently facing an environmental crisis that is sparked from lack of water for such a long period of time, resulting in raging bush fires. There are also a growing number of communities without fresh and clean drinking water, a basic yet vitally important, necessity.

If you would like to join me on the 18th, then gather on the grassed area along the forefront in front of the Grange Hotel (look for the purple banner) by 8:00pm. Shortly after that time I will be heading down to the shore and will be commencing the rite around 8:20pm.

With respect to the recent bushfires, gold coin donations will be collected for the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park to help with veterinary costs, koala milk and supplements, extra holding/rehabilitation enclosures, etc. 

Aboriginal rock art at Akurra Adnya, Flinders Ranges, South Australia (Photography by Peter Hodge)

** I have been asked in recent times why I do not honour a local Aboriginal deity. As far as I am aware the local Kaurna people (whose traditional lands include Adelaide and the Adelaide plains) do not appear to have a deity associated with rain. The closest is Akurra, the great serpent of the Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders Ranges, who is sometimes referred to as the rainbow serpent. There is also the snake-god, the Wollunqua, the mythical ancestor of the Wollunqua clan in the Warramunga nation (northern Central Australia).