Before there were mermaids, there was the deity Mami Wata. Known in many parts of Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and other parts of the Black diaspora, she’s been depicted throughout the centuries as a beautiful Black woman with tendrils of thick, kinky hair coiling down her back.
While westerners have claimed “Mami Wata” is pidgin English for “Mother Water,” this just can’t be possible. Mami Wata deities existed in Africa WAY before colonization brought any English to the continent.
Because the spiritual importance of Mami Wata is deeply rooted in ancient matriarchal cultures, Mami Wata has typically been portrayed as female in art. But her pantheon of water spirits is gender diverse.
Through the symbolism of water, these spirits reflect both good and evil, and how that duality exists in everything. They reflect how water can provide us with food, drink, trade, and communication, but can also drown or flood us, decimate entire fields or villages, or offer passage to intruders.
Mami Wata is a powerful and awe-inspiring water spirit that many use as a source of self-identity, power, and prosperity.
In these uncertain times, we can look to our natural surroundings as a source of strength. Why not take a few moments to appreciate water and other nature around you?
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