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from Goddesses and Heroines
|Exerpt from Goddess & Heroines by Patricia
[Used by permission. This text is NOT included in the Goddess Oracle]
She is one of the great goddesses of Africa and of the African diaspora. In her original homeland, she was the Yoruba goddess of the Ogun river, where she was said to the be daughter of the sea into whose waters she empties. Her breasts are very large, because she was mother of so many of the Yoruba gods
She is also the mother of waters--Mama Watta--who gave birth to all the world's waters. Even as she slept, she would create new springs, which gushed forth each time she turned over. At her main temple, at Abeokuta in the Ibara district, she is offered rams, yams and corn.
In the African diaspora, Ymoja has remained a popular divinity. She is Imanje or Yemanja in Brazilian Macumba, where she is ocean-goddess of the crescent moon. In Cuba she is Yemaya, appearing in many variants: Yemaya Ataramagwa, the wealthy queen of the sea; stern Yemaya Achabba; violent Yemaya Oqqutte; and the overpowering Yemaya Olokun, who can be seen only in dreams. She is Agwe in Haiti, La Balianne in New Orleans. She is syncretized with Our Lady of Regla and Mary, Star of the Sea; in Brazil, she is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, whose followers wear crystal beads and greet her appearance with shouts of "Odoya." On her feastday on February 2, crowds gather on the ocean beaches of Bahia to offer her soap, perfume, jewelry and fabric which, together with letters bearing requests to the goddess, are thrown out to sea.
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Published by Llewellyn, copyright 1997. Used by permission of the author.