Leopold Nunan as Yemanja at ORIXAS – a SambOpera directed, produced, choreographed by Leopold himself. @Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica. Outfit and crown by Alice Cunt and photo by Leo Garcia.

Yemanja is a powerful sea goddess from the Brazilian religion known as Macumba or Candomblé. … Candomblé and Macumba are African-based religious traditions in Brazil and can be traced to the arrival of the first African slaves in the sixteenth century.

Yemoja (YorubaYemọja) is a major water spirit from the Yoruba religion. She is an orisha, in this case patron spirit of rivers, particularly the Ogun River in Nigeria; and oceans in Cuban and Brazilian orisa religions. She is often syncretized with either Our Lady of Regla in the Afro-Cuban diaspora or various other Virgin Mary figures of the Catholic Church, a practice that emerged during the era of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Yemoja is motherly and strongly protective, and cares deeply for all her children, comforting them and cleansing them of sorrow. She is said to be able to cure infertility in women, and cowrie shells represent her wealth. She does not easily lose her temper, but when angered she can be quite destructive and violent, as the flood waters of turbulent rivers.

Yemoja is often depicted as a mermaid, and is associated with the moon (in some Diaspora communities), water, and feminine mysteries. She is the protector of women. She governs everything pertaining to women; particularly the birth and bearing of children – childbirth, conception, parenting, child safety, love, and healing. According to myth, when her waters broke, it caused a great flood creating rivers and streams and the first mortal humans were created from her womb.

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