Last night at my drumming and chanting circle we celebrated Yemaya, the Mermaid Goddess sacred to the spiritual traditions of West African and Caribbean people. On New Year's Eve, people in Brazil who honour the Goddess build sand altars on the beach where they leave small gifts for Yemaya along with their wishes and prayers for the upcoming year. The tide washes everything out to the sea -- to the Great Mother, Yemaya. She responds with Her blessings.
At a special point in our Circle, we closed our eyes and each drew a small pewter seashell from a blue bowl half full of water ("Alberta ocean"). Every seashell had a different word engraved on it -- a word representing Yemaya's blessing to us for 2011. My seashell had the word Strength.
We took our seashells home with us after the Circle so they can remind us throughout the year of Yemaya's special gift to us. I put mine in a small pottery dish on my bedside table.
[Portrait of Yemaya by Maria Giulia Alemanno]