Battling the Tides is the second part of a three-part series I’m writing about three very special African Goddesses. Each of these deities (the Orisha) has Their own way of teaching special lessons through their lore and through personal interaction with Their devotees. As an eclectic Pagan and a spiritual person that wants to inspire others to make connections to their Gods in their own way, I am focusing my efforts into these three articles to illustrate that anyone with enough dedication and will can connect with their higher self and make changes that cause a positive outcome for themselves. This is my UPG and my experiences that I’ve chosen to share to encourage others to have their own experiences.
Yemeya is the embodiment of the deep mysteries of the sprawling sea. She is the Great Mother and the life-giving brine that once were the womb of primordial life on Earth. It is said that She is the birth mother of the great African King (and respectively the Orisha of the same designation) Lord Shango. Yemeya is known for dancing on the waves, cowrie shells, and also a fiercely domestic attitude that is heavily protective over Her children. This attitude, it is to have been said, washes over to Her devotees as anyone who deals with the nature of the God they serve tends to take on certain behavioral patterns and attributes of their patron God or Goddess. Yemeya also serves as a conduit for me to discover the extent of my emotions, the reasons for the intensity and loss of control, and also the ability to change my habits to refocus my passionate side.
As I extended a shaking arm to Yemeya, I could feel that protective Mother’s stare warmly encompassing me. There was a feeling of fury and also compassion and it’s a feeling that I’ve become familiar with in the course of my work with Kali. The ocean may be life sustaining although it also has a coldness to it. There were many emotions I had not confronted and also buried under lies I told myself to keep from falling apart.That icy swell I felt on the inside was only rising and proving to disconnect my emotions from the outside world and letting them explode on the inside.
Yemeya was to see to it that I would face these intense experiences head on and with no more mental shortcuts. My dreams are haunted by a vast, empty ocean. Every so often, this ocean consumes my mind and I find myself drowning in the turquoise throes of my own drama and memories of my abusive childhood. It starts with the water level rising as tears are held back from painful situations. Stifling my emotions has only caused more repression and more uncomfortable situations between friends and family.
One has to wonder if Yemeya is ever portrayed as bravely as She must really be to help others through the torrent of their own feelings. She is the Mother of a King who dies and becomes an inspiration to His people. Much like the Virgin Mary, who Yemeya is directly associated with, I believe that this Queen is underrated. Having to guide myself through painful episodes from my past called me to cry out to this primordial Warrior. I needed the strength of the Mother of the Great King, to even begin to attempt to unravel the brain-spaghetti that my mind had become.
I kept at it and kept offering sesame seeds and sea shells to this Queen of the nourishing seas. My dream episodes shifted from the chaotic fight for a breath of air in a frothing ocean to gently rolling narratives gently helping me to remember the past I fought to forget. Yemeya began to show me that ignoring the emotions and attempting to forget them by writing over those feelings brought me nothing but self-delusion and misunderstandings. I slowly began to make the necessary changes within my mind to think back on events as they truly were and battle the villains who had manifested due to the lies I told myself.
There were nights I found myself shaking and wondering why I was doing what I was doing. As I’ve said before, enlightenment isn’t glamorous for me. It’s gasping, breathing exercises, a fight to control my mind and not allow the past to regain control of who I am. Change terrifies some people and I can understand why when I’m laying there trying to remember my distant past in order to find wisdom for the present. For myself, I can’t just sit there and let something happen to me without an honest go at the issue. I’ve learned that this is when my mind can really tend to overthink things and I have to acknowledge the hurt I experience and then move on to come up with a different plan going forward. Yemeya and I bonded when I came to these realizations and now I finally understood the reason my nightmares were haunted by the ocean. Lady Yemeya was reaching out to my subconscious and trying to help me realize the necessity for facing the truth of my past.
Instead of hating the fact that my emotions ran strong, I allowed myself to embrace the fact that my strength was in my ability to read others by empathizing with them and “seeing it through their emotions by experiencing them myself.” It gave me a close connection to others yet the intensity at which I was experiencing these emotions was beginning to close around me like walls. I forgot what it felt like to be me. It inhibited conversation, caused conflict, made many misunderstandings in the wake of the carnage that usually arose from my mood swings. I knew now that this was the reason why I was at the whim of others and so emotionally dependent.
I can’t change what’s been done and that’s alright. I am here now and these are the tools I have as of right now. Sometimes it’s terribly hard to admit, yet I had been deluding myself to think that I had the tools from the beginning of my experience in Paganism. As a child and a newborn witch, I felt that by becoming Pagan it meant that I would be entitled to just knowing how to fix a situation. It sounds crazy to think that I didn’t consciously acknowledge this at the time, however, this time period was borne of the loss of my father and a massive set of changes that sent off a chain reaction in the course of my Karma. Yemeya guided me back to that day on July 20th, 1999.
I gnashed my teeth and could feel the Goddess sitting over me, cradling me like a Mother. When I just sat there, seemingly surrendering to the pain washing over me, I could feel Yemeya tighten Her grip on me through dreams and other reminders of Her presence and I felt Her calling me to keep trying no matter how excruciating the memory. Slowly, I began to revisit the source of this pain and acknowledge the impact it had on my life. Never allowing myself freedom by chaining myself to others, being ignorant of the needs of my partners, and an insatiable need for anger. The sadness was caused by the anger I had taken out on innocent parties as was done to me. I realized in that moment that I became the one thing I hated most – the darkness.
Darkness caused by intense anger that had been flung at me since childhood. Instead of abandoning this negativity in the past, I deluded myself into thinking that my anger was normal or even something that I needed to express in the violent ways that I had done in the past. Is this also something else I can transform into a better habit for myself or am I slave to this feeling as well? I refused to accept defeat and after a period of rest, I pushed forward from the crashing waves to take on the tempest that is Oya.
The feeling of freedom from this mental prison exploded violently into my conscious mind and let off spiritual shrapnel in every direction. I shook physically because for once I wasn’t feeling the pain caused by my own self-deceit and Yemeya guided me to putting that intense focus on myself and only using the gift for certain situations. Yeah, gift, I felt that the curse had transformed into a great strength. I was ready for the next step of my adventure. I was coming up from the surface victorious and finally able to breath. I could calmly go with the tide now, no matter what direction it took.
I want to take time to express my gratitude to the Great Queen Yemeya, Mother of the Ocean, Mother of Lord Shango, Warrior of intense emotions and Sacred Lady of Mysteries for being in my dreams and guiding me. I’ve said before that this is UPG and is my personal experience with these deities. Everyone has their own experience because everyone has different lessons to learn in their own way. I provide this material so that others can have an idea of how to think through challenging episodes and build a connection with their Gods. Thank you to all that read my work, comment, and add their own insights. <3 – Shining Quill the Unicorn