Who doesn't love mermaids! Rain Frances has picked the perfect theme for this week's Thursday Art Date and I'm in, baby, all in!
I bought this handcrafted terra cotta mermaid on the island of Cozumel off the Mexican coast when I was there in the past. I featured her a couple of months ago in my January Full Moon Altar blog post dedicated to the Mermaid Goddess Yemaya.
Originally an oceanic creator goddess of the Yoruba people in West Africa, the slave trade resulted in Yemaya's transformation into a Caribbean and Brazilian deity. Because her enslaved people were punished in the New World for practising their own culture and spirituality, Yemaya's worship became "coded" for people's own safety and protection. In the secretly-practised Santeria and Voudou religions, Yemaya was always depicted as a mermaid because that was a familiar European symbol which raised no suspicions among the white overlords.
In time, Yemaya's name became simply "The Mermaid" in English-speaking colonies or "La Sirène" in French-speaking ones. She was an Undercover Goddess operating beneath the radar of an oppressive and racist colonial system.
I made this art collage of Yemaya in 2008 to illustrate the beautiful Yoruba chant Yemaya Assessu, a favourite song which we sang often at my Women's Drumming and Goddess Chanting Circle. Reflecting the original oceanic nature of Yemaya, its simple words express the River's longing to unite with its ultimate home, the Sea.
Deva Premal sings an exquisitely beautiful version of this chant in the following video, which also conveys the words' deep spiritual significance.
[Photo #1 © Debra She Who Seeks, January 2022; Art and Photo #2 © Debra She Who Seeks, 2008 and March 2022, respectively]