Mami Wata, circa 1987 by Zoumana Sane (dates unknown, Senegal)
Photo Credit: Don Cole
Today I reflected on how I launched my annual summer museum adventures last weekend. I started with a visit to the National Museum of African Art. The goal of my trip was to soak up the beauty and splendor of the Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and the African Atlantic World exhibit. http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/mamiwata/intro.html. It arrived at the Museum on April 1 and leaves on July 26.
Mami Wata (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mami_Wata) is a water spirit celebrated throughout most of Africa, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. I first learned about Mami Wata in 1991 when I discovered the West African Yoruba goddesses Oshun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oshun) and Yemaya (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yemanya) who are her sister water spirits. I immediately embraced her image which is often portrayed as a brown-skinned mermaid. I love that fact because she reminds me of me. Her power as a nurturing mother, sensual woman, healer, and provider of riches also appealed to me. Mami Wata, Oshun, and Yemaya introduced me to Erzulie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erzulie), the Haitian goddess of love. These water goddesses played a pivotal role in my early artwork and writing. They still do! Erzulie is a major force in the artwork and characters featured in my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com— iUniverse, Inc. – 2007). Click here to see Erzulie’s veve which appears inside my novel and serves as the logo for the Love’s Troubadours novel series (scroll down to the second photo and look for the black and white drawing of a heart-shaped image): http://www.lovestroubadours.com/id26.html. It also appears in the painting featured on the back of my novel. Click here to see a photo (scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for the heart-shaped symbol in the center of painting): http://www.lovestroubadours.com/id7.html.
The Mami Wata exhibit was powerful because it explored the visual culture and histories of Mami Wata and her sister water spirits. It also taught me about several new water spirits such as Lasirèn from Haiti and Santa Marta la Dominadora from the Dominican Republic. At the end of the exhibit, I decided to participate in the creative exercise set up by the Museum. I never turn down an invitation to play! The exercise involved making drawings of Mami Wata-like mermaids, fish, and shells. Iloved the exhibit so much that I purchased the exhibition book as a keepsake. I plan to go back later this month to see the Mami Wata exhibit one more time before it closes. Yes it’s that good!
So do you have any summer museum adventures planned? If so, where are you going and what will you see when you get there?
After the museum, I stopped at Teaism in Penn Quarter for lunch (http://www.teaism.com/Restaurant/PennQuarter7.html). Teaism is one of my favorite places to drink tea, eat healthy food, meet friends, and write. I wrote several chapters of Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com) and my soon-to-be released poetic memoir, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discoverywhile sipping tea at Teaism. I even wrote about my novel’s main character Karma Francois eating a salty oat cookie and drinking tea at Teaism on Dupont Circle! I treated myself to one of my favorite entrees, the salmon bento box. As always, it was delicious. Before I left, I purchased a chocolate salty oat cookie for my afternoon movie snack.
Enlighten Up! (http://enlightenupthefilm.com) is a new yoga documentary by filmmaker Kate Churchill. It tells the story of Nick Rosen, a twenty-something journalist from New York City, who explores the world of yoga in search of a practice that meets his needs. The film was yoga yummy and funny. The yogini/yoga teacher inside of me adored the Enlighten Up! because it gives everyday people an opportunity to witness Rosen’s down-to-earthsearch for a yoga practice with some of the most widely known and not so known yoga teachers in New York City, Los Angeles, Hawaii, and India. I highly recommend the film. If you go see Enlighten Up!, tell me what you think about it.
Do you practice yoga? If so, describe your practice.
Right now I am practicing yin yoga (www.yinyoga.com and http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/580?print=1) in the early morning before I get out of bed and before I go to sleep at night. My morning practice includes sun salutations, twists, cat-cows, cobras, and forward folds.
If you are in DC this weekend, please consider attending my free community yoga class on Sunday, June 14 at 9:00 a.m. in Malcolm X – Meridian Hill Park in Northwest, DC. For more information, visit http://yoga.meetup.com/584.
Thanks for stopping by!
Peace, Creativity, and Summer OMs,
I can’t wait to see Enlighten Up! It will be coming to a theater near me at the end of the month. I am sooo giddy.
I love Mami Wata too. Actually, I’m writing a fantasy novel about The Mer (Mermaid and Mermen) and Mami Wata has a big role in my novel.
Your novel sounds amazing. Can’t wait to buy it.
Hi Shell and Anandaleeke, I am enjoying your Mamiwata discussion. I am Torgbui Yao Foli Ametefe, an African American man whom traced my ROOTS back to Africa in 1975. So I live in both Chicago and Ghana, my Ancestrial homeland. So the late author, Alex Haley, was not alone in his journey to discover SELF long before DNA analysis. I found both my paternal and maternal sides in Ghana. I have went and spent a few months amongst my maternal tribe in the Volta Region, as my traditional name symbolizes. I have a rented compound house in Ghana, since 2002. Knowlegde of the Mamiwata is very common in Ghana and other places of Africa. Even the Mamiwata website is centered around Togo and Ghana in West Africa, within my tribe, the Ewes. So please, keep up your cultural re-awakening as there is much to learn and African Spirituality runs deep/endlessly. Enjoy, Torgbui Ametefe