Originating in the Yoruba religions of Western Africa, Yemaya has become the great Ocean Mother Goddess of Santeria in South America and in the Caribbean, representing the maternal force of life and creation. She lives in the ocean, expressing her moods with the tides and currents of the great waters.
In Brazil her devotees set up elaborate beach front altars each New Year's Eve, setting out food and candles to be washed away by with the morning tides. Yemeya rules over everything that is connected to the sea, the matron of sailors and fishermen, protecting them from drowning. Yemeya also especially blesses the lives and concerns of women and of children.