Sopera de Yemaya is an experimental short film in multiple chapters. Yemaya is the Ocean Mother Orisha (deity) in Santería, an Afro-Caribbean religion rooted in Yoruba culture and brought to the Americas, mainly Cuba and Brazil, by enslaved Africans. Yemaya has many caminos (paths) that represent different aspects of her power and divinity, the different natural landscapes she inhabits, and determine how her devotees and petitioners should engage with her in ritual. These caminos were filmed while Courtney Morris was pregnant and are part of a very personal and deep journey towards motherhood as well as an awakening to the inner forces of spirituality, embodying the divine, and the grounded concerns of becoming a mother in a moment of resurgent anti-black racism, state violence, political instability, and global pandemic.
According to the Lucumí tradition in Cuba (Santería), Yemaya has a very close relationship with Oshun, the orisha of sweet water, the rivers, and fertility, and who is associated with sexuality, pleasure, beauty, wealth, and abundance. In this chapter, Yemaya visits Oshun’s fresh waters to cleanse herself. The water is treated with roses, cascarilla, and herbs in this ritual which is repeated seven times to thank both orisha and prepare Morris’ body for the task of giving birth to her first child.