YEMANJA, THE SANTERIA GODDESS of the ocean, is believed to be the daughter of the earth goddess Oddudua, and the sister and wife of the god Aganju. As the mother of the fourteen gods and goddesses who make up the pantheon, Yemanja occupies an exalted position in the Santeria religion.
Santeria developed during the nineteenth century from the Yoruba religion practiced by enslaved Africans who were brought to Cuba to work on sugarcane plantations. plantations. Since the Yoruba were not allowed to practice their native beliefs, they camouflaged their rituals with the symbols of the Roman Catholicism they were forced to observe; one example of this is the affinity of the goddess Yemanja to the Virgin Mary. By this practice, the Yoruba remained loyal to their orishas, or deities, and avoided detection and punishment. The Santeria religion spread from Cuba, where it originated, through the Caribbean to North and South America. It is still widely practiced today.
At some time in their lives, each practitioner of Santeria chooses one of the gods or goddesses to be their spiritual parent. Those who are the children of Yemanja try to please the goddess in many ways. Since seven is the number sacred to Yemanja, they wear seven silver bracelets on their arms. They also burn candles as blue as the ocean Yemanja rules. Beautiful blue and crystal beads, strung into necklaces as ethereal as iridescent moonlight upon the sea, adorn their necks.
The Book of Goddesses: Expanded Anniversary Edition