🧜🏿♀️🧜🏾♀️🧜🏽♀️In Celebration of The Little Mermaid, with Halle Bailey cast as the lead, I want to take some time this week highlighting that Black Mermaids... Aren't a new concept!
The history of Black Mermaids dates back millennia, across various Continental African and Caribbean cultures. These revered and sometimes feared beings have been appeased and celebrated in traditional Spiritual Cosmologies such as Obeah, Vodun, and Ifa.
As you may know, I am an Artist and also an Obeahwoman. I work particularly closely with Water Spirits, as I'm particularly close to Water and Tree spirits (but we'll talk about tree spirits another day). This week I'll be telling you about my personal encounter with Mami Wata Spirits.
One of the most notable Black Mermaids is Yemoja (also known as Yemaja in the New World), the goddess of the Ocean and Motherhood in the pre-colonial Yoruba religion of Nigeria. These cosmological understandings have not entirely disappeared as the Diaspora is an enduring global community, and has found its way over to various Caribbean communities and Continental South America. Yemoja is often depicted as a beautiful, powerful mermaid with a calm yet firm nurturing presence. Yemoja is believed to control the waters, giving life and sustenance to her devotees. Many Yoruba people and descendants build shrines to honor and pray to her for protection and blessings across a number of African Diasporic Spiritual systems. Depending on the practice and region, there will be different initiatory rites to form respectful connection with her(with similarities and differences between them. The slave trade shook up the African Diaspora, and along with it transformed the way our enslaved ancestors practiced in the new world).
Another important African Diasporic Mermaid grouping are the Mami Wata spirits, known throughout West and Central Africa. Mami Wata are often depicted as mermaids with a combination of human and aquatic features. They are known to possess healing powers and the ability to grant wealth and fertility. In some regions however, Mami Wata can be feared- as they are known, if angered to capsize water crafts! Mami Wata are often invoked in rituals and offerings, with the hope of receiving their blessings and protections.
In Haitian Vodun, La Siren is a revered Black Mermaid spirit. She is known as the mistress of the sea, and often depicted as a beautiful woman with the tail of a fish. La Siren is believed to be a powerful symbol of femininity and strength, with the ability to control and protect the waters and its inhabitants.
The traditional religions of Obeah, Vodun, and Ifa (this is not an exhaustive list by the way, there are several many African Traditional Spiritual Cosmologies spanning the width and breadth of continental Africa!) with their roots in West Africa, acknowledge the importance of Black Mermaids as symbolizing the connection between humanity and the ocean. As protectors of the seas, these complex beings are seen as gatekeepers of spiritual power and guardians of the natural world.
The rich and beautiful history of Black Mermaids serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of our connection to nature and the sacredness of the water. As we honor and respect these powerful spirits, we are reminded of our own role in protecting our beautiful oceans.
Painting Black Mermaids has been something I've felt compelled to do ever since I've dived deeper into my own understanding of the Multiverse through Journeywork (a form of astral projection).
It ties into my need to paint Intuitively and from the heart which, when we fully understand what that means, is the connection to all beings that exist throughout the Multiverse.
The Mami Wata Spirits I have met have been curious of my curiosity, bold and perhaps a little overly welcoming! But more about that soon...
I will be selling my prints of the Water Spirits you see this week, on pre order. Please do contact me if interested, at firstname.lastname@example.org. These prints will all be under £100 with pay in 3 available 💕