Yemaya : Ocean Goddess of the New Year

Yemaya, The Goddess of the Ocean and of the New Year

Yemaya was the river goddess of the Yoruba in Nigeria. When her people were hoarded onto the slave ships, Yemaya went with them, thus becoming their Goddess of the Ocean.

She traveled with them from Yoruba to distant lands, comforting them in the holds of the slave ships that took them far away from their homeland in Africa. Known by other names, her traditions continue in the countries to which her people were dispersed.


She is also called Ymoga (Mother of the Fishes), Iamanga, and Balianne. Today she is also celebrated under many other names, including the virgin Mary (Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception), Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), and Our Lady of name but a few.

She is often honored by celebrations on the eve of the New Year. Devotees send gifts of jewelry, fabric, soap, perfume and letters, along with floating candles that are set adrift in the moonlit sea, as gifts to the goddess Yemaya.

goddess Yemaya

Yemaya is a mother goddess, the goddess of home, fertility, love and family. Like water she represents both change and constancy--bringing forth life, protecting it, and changing it as is necessary.

According to legend, Yemaya's first gift to her beloved humans was a sea shell in which her voice could always be heard. To this day we honor Yemaya when we hold a shell to our ear in order to hear her voice, the ocean.

goddess Bast

Yemaya is a goddess of comfort and inspiration. She reminds us that even the worst catastrophes can be endured and that, with her help, we can learn to negotiate the ebbs and flows of change in our lives with her wisdom, courage, and grace.

Goddess Quiz





Learn more about the Goddess Yemaya

Read the stories of the other Goddesses

Return To Goddess Gift