From Mami Wata to Virgin Mary, all the goddesses Beyoncé paraded in her divine Grammy performance

by Staff writer

Beyoncé has been feeling all goddessy lately — hasn’t she always been?

Her performance at Sunday night’s Grammy awards, pregnant with twins and glowing, drove that point home.

In the visual album for Lemonade last year, we saw the American pop star as the Nigerian Yoruba deity (or orisha) Oshun.

Then, with her recent pregnancy announcement, there were visual references to both the Catholic Virgin Mary and the orisha of the water, Yemoja (also known as Yemaya, Yemanjá, and Mami Wata). 

Many of the goddesses Beyoncé has recently referenced are of African origin—but for last night’s Grammys, she didn’t stop there.

Here are a few of the female deities we saw Beyoncé channel last night onstage: 

1. Oshun


Oshun—also known as Osun, Oxúm, and Ochún—is the beloved Yoruba fertility goddess who brings music and dance.

She is commonly associated with fresh water, rivers, and waterfalls, and known to display human attributes such as vanity and jealousy.

She wears a signature marigold-yellow dress—a signifier that was not lost on viewers of last night’s performance, or close-watchers of Lemonade.

2. Durga


Thanks to video effects, saffron-colored scarves, and her dancers, Beyoncé appeared to have many arms—a characteristic of many Hindu deities.

While Vox Media saw Kali—a fierce Hindu goddess known for her man-beheading—we also see Durga, another mother goddess, who often appears golden, with eight or ten arms to slay the haters.

The Goddess Durga as Slayer of the Buffalo-Demon Mahisha

3. The Virgin Mary


Beyoncé’s golden halo was also an unmistakeable reference to the Madonna (AKA the Virgin Mary) last night, as it was in her pregnancy announcement. 

Mary is revered for her patience and humility, and for giving birth (after immaculate conception) to the baby Jesus.

Also, to accept her best urban contemporary album award, Beyoncé wore a slightly more modest—but no less Mary-ish—headpiece: a veil resembling those that many Catholic women wear to attend mass.

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