Old Woman Earth
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Aberewa (Primordial Woman)
In the West, Asase Yaa is best known as the mother of Anansi, famous Ashanti trickster spirit. However, she is the spirit of Earth, the Great Mother of Ghana, and a tremendously important spirit in her own right. Although she is very powerful, no shrines or temples are dedicated to her. Instead she is worshipped in the fields. Asase Yaa accompanied enslaved devotees to the Western Hemisphere. She is revered in Guyana and by the Maroons of Jamaica.
Asase Yaa must be placated, typically with libations, before Earth is disturbed for any reason, whether planting, digging a grave, or otherwise. It is traditional to lift a coffin up and down three times before laying it to rest on Earth in order to give Asase Yaa due notice and time to prepare.
Anyone who has worked a field may consider him- or herself Asase Yaa’s child. She is the Mother of the Dead, their guardian, if they are buried within her.
Mortar and pestle
Twe, a spirit of water
Day: Thursday is her sacred day, and traditionally farmers allow her a day of rest. They refrain from using plows or any sharp tools on her body on that day. This has caused conflict between traditional Ashanti farmers and Christian missionaries who prefer to see Sunday honored. Devotees of Asase Yaa do not practice procreation or agriculture on Thursday; they refrain from planting.
Place: Asase Yaa dwells in plowed fields and barren wilderness. She may be approached in either place but must be petitioned outdoors, in physical contact with Earth.
Libations are poured on Earth on Thursday.
OFFERINGS:Libations are poured on Earth on Thursday.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by: Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
Asaase Yaa (Aberewa, Asase Ya) Ashanti (Ghana) In the Ashanti pantheon of deities (known as the abosom), the daughter of the Supreme God, Nyame. Asaase Yaa was the goddess of the barren places of the Earth. In some tales, she appears as the mother of the trickster and culture hero anansi the spider. Another name by which Asaase Yaa was known was Aberewa. According to myth, Aberewa had a long, sharp sword that could fight by itself. When she ordered the sword to fight, it slaughtered everyone it encountered. When she commanded the sword to stop fighting, it did. The Ashanti tell a story about Anansi and Aberewa’s sword. Once, there was famine in the land, and the only food available was in the storehouse of Nyame. In order to become Nyame’s agent and sell his food supplies to the people, Anansi 12 Aruan agreed to let his head be shaved daily. However, the shaving was painful, and people made fun of the way he looked. When Anansi could no longer stand this situation, he stole some food and fled to Aberewa’s house. When he asked the goddess for her protection, she granted it. One day, when Aberewa left the house, Anansi stole her sword. He returned with it to Nyame and offered to use the sword to protect Nyame whenever he needed help. Nyame accepted Anansi’s offer. When an enemy army approached, Anansi ordered the sword to fight. It killed all of the enemy forces. However, Anansi could not remember the command to make the sword stop. With no enemies left to kill, the sword turned on Nyame’s army. When only Anansi was left alive, it killed him too. Then it stuck itself into the ground and turned into a plant with leaves so sharp they cut anyone who touched them. The plant still cuts people, because no one has ever given the sword the command to stop.