Yemaya & Olokun: Deep Sea Secrets
Maferefun Yemaya & Olokun, the owners of the waters on earth, especially the deep sea. These are both orishas of the Yoruba pantheon. For an amazing write-up on these Orishas, check out ORISA: New World Black Gods by John Mason available in the Ritual&Vibe Library! Check out my Deep Sea Supplements here!
While Yemaya is described as the mother of all, and represents the top half of the ocean; Olokun is, instead, the keeper of the deepest parts of the ocean of the ocean. Olokun represents mysteries, divination, and the parts of the ocean where life began, yet sunlight doesn’t touch...
“Olokun is the bottom two thirds or the meso and bathopalagic levels of the ocean, in which plants are only able to grow through the process of chemosynthesis.
At these levels in the ocean, there is perpetual darkness and photosynthesis does not occur. The temperature is cold, there is extreme depth pressure... It is the land of the dead, where plants and animals whose forms are distorted to accommodate the depth pressure, take on monstrous shapes and sizes.”
- John Mason, ORISA: New World Black Gods
The deepest part of the ocean, one of the largest living places in our planet, and scientists still know very, very little about it. They didn’t even know life existed that deep in the ocean until the late 1970s. And many now will still describe the bottom of the ocean as spooky & barren, much like John Mason does in the excerpt above.
But life exists here, in the cold, heavy, dark depths of the ocean, a place the sun doesn’t reach. Sun worship goes back a long time, so most still see the sun as THE source of life. We may even recite the Hermetic law of “As Above, So Below,” but is that really true? A genius gal on Twitter once mentioned that the reverse is actually true - “As Below, So Above.” I mean, think of it...
- If the roots are strong below, the plant will grow above. As below, so above. A strong plant isn’t strong because of the sun or even the water it gets. It is the roots and the network connected to those roots that strengthen the plant.
- Scientists theorize that we may have NOT fell from the sky - as originally theorized - with the help of sunlight or lightning, but instead the early life on earth started in the warm, early oceans of earth.
- As chordates, our earliest ancestors were all underwater before coming on land.
- The weather we experience is influenced by the ocean and most agree that global warming can be attributed to the cyanobacteria in the ocean.
- Natural phenomena found on land are also found underwater - deep sea rivers, underwater earthquakes, volcanoes and geysers, intense storms aka underwater eddies, and even "snow."
We send so many praises to the "Most High," while being so “scared” of whats below, yet our origins are in the watery pits of darkness. And these watery underworlds hold the secrets of more than just our origin - it is the keeper of past, present, and future. Some might see these dark mysteries unfamiliar, “distorted”, & “monstrous” but are these primordial existences that knowledges that emanate from source.
Everybody loves sunny days. But it’s about time we face our shadows.
Olokun represents the deepest shadows of our unconscious; things we’ve hidden away from ourselves because they were too “distorted” to see the light of day. But when we demonize our unique selves, we lose access to unique abilities, primordial instincts, & one-of-a-kind charm that we need to be fully actualized in this life. The deep ocean water only seems scary because it doesn’t fit the typical molds and archetypes we force life to exist in. Life exists and expands, though, outside of those molds and cages.
The deep ocean is not only unique, it is also filled with raw, powerful nutrients. Repressing this part of us kills our connection to abundant source. Instead of repressing, integrate. Don’t run away from tapping into the unconscious and learning about the depths of you. You are throwing away your very own precious, secret, underwater treasure.
Do You Remember?
Our origins are oversimplified in school, but if you dig deeper, you see that our origins are much more complex and much more ancient than they openly teach. Many, many ancient myths describe how life began in the primordial waters, and most scientists agree that our early ancestors started deep underwater.
You may know some of our features like inner ear bones and hands are features from an ancient fish, but did you know scientists now claim the oldest ancestor of ALL living things lived in deep sea volcanoes?
Yep. A place scientists did not even know could support life 50 years ago, the home to our earliest ancestor. Talk about Olokun being the owner of secrets.
Deep in the belly & bowels of the ocean, life we can’t even imagine — thrives. Along the vaporous chasms of deep sea hydrothermal vents, extremophiles exist at a violent pressure depth that would make our bones explode. From the vents erupt metallic & violent burps of boiling, gaseous nutrients. Cues Heavy Metal & Reflective.
These vapors are the metabolites & minerals & metals & byproducts & salts that nourish and fertilize the ocean that allows for rich sources of life and a constant recycling of abundance. Again, not only have humans have lived off of the ocean for thousands and thousands of years all over the planet, the oceans are where life originates.
The deep, dark, nutrient dense ocean waters, with a long history of cycling, corresponds with the amniotic fluid, lymph fluid, breast milk, and blood stream in our bodies. We have a primordial connection to water, I would argue moreso than sun. And it is because of this primordial maternal & ancient connection, water is often seen as a way to hold (& share?) memory.
The field of underwater archaeology takes advantage of idea that water preserves memory, because many remains of past civilization that are lost on land, have been found and well-preserved underwater. The salty, anoxic environment of the deep sea allows for exceptional preservation of herstory.
Water is a preserver, which is why, in the “supernatural” and ancestral world, many spirits find familiar home in water’s various forms - raging rivers, boiling steam, still from tap, frozen icecap... This connection to ancestral memory is one of the reasons to offer water to your ancestors either on your shrine or during libations. Learn more about adding water to your ancestral shrine here.
Working With Deep Sea Gifts
Both metaphorically and physically, the ocean can support the wellness of mind, body, and spirit. Whether in your diet or on your altar, there are ways you can tap into the gifts from the sea in your everyday. Because the deep sea represents the unconscious, I will talk a bit about a shadow work as well.
Ways To Use Seaweed
On a physical level, nourishing your body with seafood is a great way to fill your body with minerals, vitamins, and compounds to keep your immune systems strong and body's healthy. Some seafood like oysters, can be a good source of zinc which is great for preventing colds; or like salmon, omega-3 fatty acids, which is crucial for brain health, heart health, and womb health. Seafood like seaweeds and algae are so mineral dense, some people treat it like a multivitamin!
Anti-cancer, weight-managing, liver-protecting, & antioxidant-rich seaweeds are great to include into your daily diet. I like consuming a variety - kelp, dulse, spirilina, seamoss, kombu, bladderwrack because different combinations of seaweeds can help with different minerals. I offer a blend of Seamoss & Bladderwrack in capsules I call Deep Sea. I love the mineral content Cold Water Irish Moss (Chondrus Crispus), which is why it’s featured in my Deep Sea blend.
Here are some of ways to incorporate seaweed & algae in your food:
- broths & stews: add a strip of kombu to broth or season stews with powdered seamoss
- seasoning blends & finishing salts: check out how to make seaweed seasoning. A lovely lady mentioned gomassio to me a while ago and it’s delicious!
- marinades & dressings
- in stir fry
- teas: stir a spoonful of seamoss gel in your tea
- burgers, wraps, sandwich fillings: toast strips of seaweed to add crunch and flavor to sandwiches
- even desserts.
I have a few ideas in my Plant Taste cookbook!
More About Seamoss & Bladderwrack
Irish Moss is popular these days as a rich source of potassium chloride. Like immunizing breast milk, it is shown to be anti-viral & anti-bacterial, with a variety of trace minerals. Seamoss helps block inflammatory pathways, has antioxidant properties, is neuroprotective, has been proven in study to destroy cancer cells, supports gut health, could protect against cardiovascular disease, detoxes heavy metals from the body, and prevent obesity. Now, I don’t know if it has 92 minerals, but this popular food definitely holds potential to be considered powerfood.
Bladderwrack is known for its rich source of natural iodine, to help treat underactive thyroid conditions, as well as bromide & potassium. Rich in fucodian, bladderwrack helps prevent the formation of free radicals and protects against any harmful effects of radiation. Studies have shown fucodian helps lung cancer cell death in vitro.
Ways To Use Water
Water is the origin of life, so be respectful of it. If you go to the ocean, lake, or river - keep it clean. Bring a trash bag to the water with you, and clean up any trash you see.
Drinking water is so cliche now, people forget that it is truly key to health. Before doing any diet or fast, drink more water and eat more water rich foods. You will notice a difference in your digestion, your skin, aches and pains in the body, and even your energy levels. Our bodies are made up of 70% water of course; healthy living starts with drinking water and eating water rich foods. Many metaphysical enthusiasts push the idea of programming water following a questionable study from Dr. Emoto. Water does hold memory, so even though "programming" water with affirmations either written or through voice is not something I do, it may be something you can do.
As mentioned, giving water during libations when honoring ancestors is standard practice. If you have an ancestral shrine, be sure to equip it with fresh water on a regular basis.
Deep Sea Shadow Work
It doesn't matter how far you run, your shadow will be right there - clinging to your heels. So what is the use in being afraid of or even ignoring the shadows of your unconscious? These fears will start showing up in "ugly" ways - in addictions, emotional breakdowns, loss of identity, delusions, depression anxiety, infection & disease in the body, self hate & doubt, desperation or a need for validation/motivation, and so much more.
I’m learning that the goal is to be truly firm and at home in the unconscious again, like we were when we were kids, so we can instead have a beautiful relationship with our shadows again. We can begin dancing with our shadows, again, instead of running from them. A teacher I'm learning from calls this unconscious home state the "dreamstate." Carl Jung suggests that integrating our shadow self helps us return back to our wholeness, our original "dream state."
Integrating the shadow is a process suggested by Carl Jung, where you get to know your shadow (all the things about yourself you repressed in order to develop your “persona” - the mask you wear for the world to see). This also often called shadow work. Jung recommends Dream Work and studying symbols that the unconscious gifts you in these dreams. Write down the symbols, phrases, and information in dreams and analyze. What is your unconscious trying to share with you? Why is that coming up for you?
Meditation is another great tool to take into this dream-state, Olokun energy, and dig deeper into the shadowy depths of the soul. When meditating, you can do “active or conscious” dreamwork; some call this active imagination. This is where we are awake, and work with the images our unconscious sends us. Use the images that arise to learn more about your shadow. What is being shown? Why? You are conscious instead of dreaming, so you can actually ask these questions to these symbols or your unconscious. If you can find ways to incorporate water or symbols of the ocean in this work, you should. I don't want to walk you through this step by step because each of our journeys are very unique, and I'm still learning this work myself. Studying the work of Carl Jung can be valuable if you are still not sure how to approach shadow work.
I also recommend that you take a look at your addictions, as that is a way to approach shadow work as well. I had a dependence on alcohol and really shitty television that I released, but didn't fully work on the root, so those addictions were filled with another "less dangerous" vice / addiction. Look at the things you unconsciously do because you feel you "need" it to function. Acknowledge and work through that addiction responsibly.
On that same token, you want to encourage instinctual passions to help replace unhealthy addictions. Shadow work isn't just saying "stop drankin wine!" -- it's also saying "go with the flow!" Doing something instinctual everyday is a great way to start integrating more of the unconscious into your everyday in a healthy way. Just get up and do where your instincts lead you without thinking of it. Even if you’re not good at it, don’t stop if your instincts crave that action. Things we are bad at can become things we are good at work time, understanding, and patience. Developing our weaknesses is how we both strengthen ourselves, expand our experiences, and integrate with our unconscious.
Here are some other resources to check out that follow up on some of the concepts introduced in this post.
- Deep Sea: Seamoss & Bladderwrack Pills
- Our Fishy Mermaid History (video)
- Shadow Work Guide by Scott Jeffery
- Learn more about the Orishas in the Yoruba Pantheon in Black Gods by John Mason
- Learn more about female Orishas in the Yoruba Pantheon in In Praise of Our Mothers by John Mason
- Deep sea fish use hydrothermal vents to incubate eggs: https://www.google.com/amp/s/phys.org/news/2018-02-deep-sea-fish-hydrothermal-vents-incubate.amp
Beautifully stated Queen. Alafia.
This is a great work and a great article. Thank you so much for this. As a therapist, I am working on integral ways to integrate Olukun into my practice. If you would like to collaborate or discuss, please feel free to email me. I would love to talk to you. Thank you! @miaflamesoflove on IG :)
This goes into the healing that I was telling you about and I am so happy that you wrote this because it has also given me a deeper perspective to what I already have swimming in my brain.