Recovering the African Feminine Divine in Literature, the Arts, and Practice: Yemonja Awakening provides context to the myriad ways in which the African feminine divine is being reclaimed by scholars, practitioners, and cultural scholars worldwide. This volume addresses the complex ways in which the reclamation of and recognition of Yemonja, the African female deity who is the mother of the entire world of the Orisha, facilitates cultural survival and the formation of African-centric identity. Also known as Yemaya, Iemanya and Yemaya-Olokun, Yemonja is the deity whose province is the ocean and, given that the Middle Passage was the cultural and spatial crossroad to Africa’s numerous diasporas, this deity links the shared histories of African and African descent cultural praxis worldwide. This work provides the context for understanding how the spiritual conceptualizations of the African feminine divine underpin critical cultural forms, even when it has been previously unacknowledged and despite the cultural encounters with European and Western models of being. Scholars of African diaspora studies and the arts will find this book particularly interesting.
Dr. LaJuan Simpson-Wilkey is interim department chair for the department of social work and human services at Kennesaw State University.
Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy is provost and vice president for academic affairs at Holy Names University.
Eric Bridges is professor of psychology at Clayton State University.
Table of Contents
Introduction - Ifakayode Faniyi, Eric Bridges, Sheila Smith McKoy, and LaJuan Simpson-Wilkey
Yemonja: Definitions and Practice
Chapter 1 The Opulent Mother: A Brief Discussion of Yemonja and her Worship in Yorùbáland -Eric M. Bridges
Chapter 2 Yemonja and The Dark Waters of the Subconscious: Reflections on an Africana Archetype - Tarell Kyles
Chapter 3 Iyemonja, Omi Jori: Our Mother, Leader of the Waters - Iya Osundamisi Fafunke
Chapter 4 Yemonja Braidings in Obeah Practices in the Anglophone Caribbean - Sandra Gonsalves-Domond
Chapter 5 What does it mean to be a traditional priestess? Interrogating Women’s Engagement with the Divine - Grace Sintim Adasi
Yemonja: Literature, Media, Film
Chapter 6 Yemonja/Yemoja/Yemaya Rising: The Feminine Divine in Music, Fiction, and Media - Sheila Smith McKoy
Chapter 7 The Water of the Womb: The Unseen Power of Yemonja in James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk - Michael Lindsay
Chapter 8 Spirit, Passion and Sufferance: Articulations of Yemoja through Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God and Velma Henry in The Salt Eaters - Khalilah Ali
Chapter 9 A Small Piece of Blue Fabric: Manifestations of Yemonja as a Site of Generational Healing in Phyllis Alesia Perry’s Stigmata - Griselda Thomas
Chapter 10 Glimpses of Yemaya from Literary and Cultural Foremothers - Leah Creque
“A refreshingly timely collection of essays that immediately reminds readers of the elastic resilience of the African spiritual heritage that sustained and continues to nourish not only the African descendants, but also others in the Americas. The spiritual tradition of Yemoja (Yemanja, Iemanya), does not only demonstrate the survival and pertinence of African spiritual values to the benefit of countless numbers of people in their daily lives for purposes of restoration to wholeness, but it also finds expression in literature and the arts to enhance the quality of human life. Indeed, time and distance have not been able to shrink this mighty African feminine divine!“
"This text is indeed a Yemonja Awakening! It is a much needed and unique contribution to decolonial thought in Africana Studies. Using a rich tapestry of experiences and knowledge in a stylistic mode that is readable, insightful and thoroughly engaging, it skillfully de-links from a colonial male-oriented gendering of African divinity. Re-linking to the endogenous and expansive female divine in Yemonja, the chapters in this text draw one into varied authentic and connected ways in which the resilience and power of the female river deity is manifested. A must read for all those concerned about decolonizing conceptions of African divinity."
"This book honors Yemonja, the preeminent goddess of arts, creativity, fertility, and productivity, the transcendent maternal figure who controls the sea, with magisterial power over the land. Yemonja herself gifted her expansive energies to the editors and contributors of this volume to see far and wide, brilliantly spiritualizing the essence of feminine divinity, effortlessly navigating the Atlantic world to rescue subdued voices and practices on femininity and godhood, covering considerable mileage in our understanding of Afro-Atlantic religion. Yemonja, I bow, I kneel, I prostrate. I do not call your name in vain!"
“Yemoja is arguably the most transformative and transformed Orisa of the Yoruba pantheon. Recovering the African Feminine Divine in Literature, the Arts, and Practice: Yemonja Awakening is a profound contribution to the growing understanding of Yemoja's role in the survivance and spiritual resistance of Black peoples. The contributors shed light on how Yemoja prevented the abysmal conditions of the Maafa from severing Black peoples' connection to the sacred female healing power of the sea. A must-read for both scholars and devotees!”