The Eyes of the Goddess 

Downtown, Old Salvador

By Ruth Knafo Setton


My first sighting of the goddess, Yemanja, is of a wooden mermaid at the Museu Afro-Brasileira in Pelourinho, the central square of Salvador, the capital of Bahia, the Brazilian state that holds the throbbing heart and soul of Brazilian culture, music, and religion. Covered in scales that lead to a mermaid tail, her belly filled with living creatures, she holds a large seashell to her ear and a mirror to her heart.

I stand before Yemanja for a long time, trying to understand why I, an American-Jewish woman born in Morocco, am so drawn to her. She is considered th...

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