Atabey (goddess)

Atabey is an ancestral mother of the Taino, one of two supreme deities in the Taíno religion. She was worshipped as a goddess of fresh water and fertility;[1] she is the female entity who represents the Earth Spirit and the Spirit of all horizontal water, lakes, streams, the sea, and the marine tides.[2] This deity was one of the most important for the native tribes that inhabited the Caribbean islands of the Antilles, mostly in Puerto Rico (Borikén), Hispaniola, and Cuba.[3]

Mother of Waters, fresh water and fertility
Atabey pretroglyph Illustration.png
Reproduction of petroglyph depicting Atabey
AbodeThe heavens
SymbolDepicted as a nude woman, a therianthropic representation of Mother of Water
Personal information
ChildrenYúcahu and Guacar (twins), Guabancex/Juracán

Atabey or Atabeira defines prime matter and all that is tangible or material and has several manifestations. One is the aforementioned nurturing maternal figure. Another is Caguana: the spirit of love. The last is Guabancex (also known as Gua Ban Ceh): the violent, Wild Mother of storms, volcanoes, and earthquakes.

Alternate names for the Taíno mother goddess are Iermaoakar, Apito, and Sumaiko and Taíno women prayed to Atabey to ensure safe childbirth.[4]


Atabey conceived twin sons without intercourse. The best known is Yúcahu because he is the principal Taíno god who rules over the fertility of Yuca (cassava).

In popular cultureEdit

During the April 2017 Miss Universe Puerto Rico pageant, Miss Utuado dressed in a costume representing Atabey.[5]

Atabey's symbology (and her avatar Guabancex) is one of the fundamental thematic foundations of the historical thriller Los hijos de la Diosa Huracán, by Daína Chaviano (Grijalbo-Random House, 2019). In this novel, this deity is a key character and subject in developing and solving the mysteries of the plot.

Atabey, Guabancex with her helpers Guatabá, Cuastriquie, and Juracán (embodiment of the hurricane) are repeatedly evoked in a novel by the Cuban-american writer Frederick A. de Armas. In Sinfonía salvaje (Madrid: Verbum, 2019) the hurricane represents the changes brought about in 1959 by the Cuban Revolution.


  1. ^ Rouse, Irving (1993). The Tainos: Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus (New ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300056969.
  2. ^ Lamarche, Sebastian Robiou (1992). Encuentros con la Mitologia Taina. University of Texas: Editorial Punto y Coma.
  3. ^ Monaghan, Patricia. "Atabey". Llewellyn. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  4. ^ Arrom, Jose J. (1989). Mitologia y artes prehispanicas de las Antillas. Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno Editores.
  5. ^ Cobertura Oficial - Miss Universe Puerto Rico - Final 4 de Mayo: Beverly Rodríguez de León/Utuado: La diosa Atabey. Vampi. 4 April 2017. Accessed 9 December 2020.