Omio Yemaya!

Yemaya Asesu, Yemaya Malewo, Yemaya Okutti, Yemaya Olokun.
Yemaya Awoyo!

Met Agwe Tawoyo, Maitresse La Sirene.

Mam Kumba Bang, Mami Wata.

NEW! Perform service to the lwa La Sirene yourself! The La Sirene Instructional Package offers recordings of songs with transcriptions and translations, written information, herbal mixtures, and other items for the service of La Sirene.

I first heard of Her in Jamaica, where I heard legends of little boys out looking for wild foods in the deep jungle, who were enticed by the "River Mooma", a beautiful woman with long hair, to come under the waters of a stream or river, and thence to a remarkable underwater kingdom.  The River Mooma would question the little boys, and the crucial question was, "Do you eat fish?" If the little boy said no, and if he was very polite and respectful, the River Mooma would play with him for a while, and then return him to normal existance in a week or two. But if he said yes, or if he was rude to the River Mooma, She would kill and eat him, and he would never be seen again.

Before I knew the Haitian Vodou name for Her, I knew Her as Yemaya. It always seemed to me perfectly natural to venerate Her, the Mother. I heard of Her in the Santeria gatherings of Holyoke, Massachusetts. By that time I had read and heard enough to know Her likes and dislikes, Her attributes and sacred items. I was also serving my ancestors by that time, so they moved over a bit on the altar to make a place for Her. La Virgen de Regla's image next to a glass jar filled with shells and silver ornaments, and a blue candle were on my altar from then on. I began to call her Momi, and learned to regard her as the female aspect of God. I took herbal baths under her patronage.

One day, I knelt in front of my altar and made Momi an offering of honeydew melon on a bed of cornmeal, with a 7 pointed star traced in cornmeal on the melon and a beautiful blue candle in the center. "Wash me, Momi!", I invoked. "Wash away all heartbreak, all poverty, all illness! Wash away all that is destructive and negative! Wash me, Momi! Wash me!" As I prayed, I saw a cloud of blue light materialize over my right shoulder. This luminous cloud descended on me, giving me a sensation like an electric current. It lasted less than ten seconds, and did not reoccur, no matter how I tried to reproduce the phenomenon.

Not long after, my radio program ""One Love Radio", which aired on WMUA in Amherst, Massachusetts, was parodied in the university newspaper. My radio persona, "Sister Wassi" (it was a reggae show), appeared in the annual lampoon issue as "Sister Washme"!

Would you dare to meet Maitre
Agwe Tawoyo? During one of my early visits to Haiti, my initiatory Houngan, Luc Gedeon, discussed with me my experience with Momi, and taught me further about her, under the name La Sirene. I learned her songs and her veve, her sacred insignia. InHaiti, her husband is Maitre Agwe Tawoyo, often portrayed as a naval officer or a sailor. He is considered to be a mulatto man with green eyes.

The word awoyo in Haiti means wild and angry. I have been told that there is a city in Nigeria called "Awoyo", so I speculate that these enraged men and women of Awoyo, enslaved in Haiti, carried with them the service of Momi, Yemaya Awoyo, and her husband, or male aspect.

I found that in Haiti La Sirene has aggressive aspects, invoked in Makaya and Bizango services. Even in her beneficent aspects, She can be dangerous. For example, Houngans and Mambos in general avoid submerging their entire heads in the sea, fearing that La Sirene may call them or even possess them outright, and swim away with them. Such unfortunates are not seen until seven years later, but they are compensated by having learned all sorts of powerful magical and religious ritual during their time in the underwater realm. They also become considerably lighter in color, approaching the appearance of the mulatto Met Agwe. In fact, this lightening of color is considered to be proof of their submarine sojourn.

Here is a song for La Sirene well known in Haiti. It was written by a popular artist some years ago, and it is now frequently sung in peristyles.

  La Siren, La Balen,

Chapo'm tonbe nan la me.

Map fe kares pou La Sirene,

Chapo'm tonbe nan la me.

Map fe kares pou La Balen,

Chapo'm tonbe nan la me.



The Mermaid, The Whale,

My hat fell into the sea.

I caress the Mermaid,

My hat fell into the sea.*

I caress the Whale,

My hat fell into the sea.

* Note - the expression "my hat fell into the sea" is considered by some to be a metaphor for possession.

Here is another song for La Sirene, it is my chante vayan, my signature song as a Mambo:

La Sirene, O se mwen k Balen O!

Sirene O, se mwen k Balen O.

Pa gen anyen pase Bondye nan peyi a.

Sirene O, se mwen Balen kap komande.

La Sirene, O, it is I who am the whale,

Sirene O, it is I who am the whale,

There is nothing greater than God in the country.

Sirene O, it is I the whale who commands.

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