Mermaids have become an icon of both fantasy and popular culture, but even so there is so many misconceptions about how the legends of mermaids arose. Many people are confused about what mermaids are actually like. Quite often we are exposed to two seemingly diametrically opposed views of them. On one side, we see mermaids as evil seductresses, using their beauty and songs to lure sailors to their deaths. On the other side we see them as being sweet, loving and playful. But which of these is true? Well in this take, I hope to clear things up and clear up some misconceptions and explore deeper into the myths and legends of mermaids. First, lets clear up two misconceptions.
First, lets clear up some misconceptions
Mermaids don’t Wear Bras 😉
Quite often we see mermaids depicted wearing a variety of bras including seashells, seaweed and starfish. But I can see some problems with these: seashells look really uncomfortable, seaweed isn’t exactly hydrodynamic andstarfish extrude their guts and digest whatever they’re on And why would mermaids need bras anyway? Modesty? Pfff -_- And for support LOL boobs float. So there will be boobies in this post. If it offends you, you can report it but a better piece of advice: just don’t read it
Sirens are NOT Mermaids
This is one of (if not the) most perpetual and annoying misconceptions about mermaids. People view them as malevolent creatures that use their singing voices and beauty to lure sailors to their deaths. But this is blatantly wrong. The creatures that they’re thinking of are known as sirens. And sirens are not an evil type or an evil version of a mermaid; their mythological origins are completley different. Even though sirens are often depicted as having the top half of a woman and the bottom half of a fish, in ancient greek mythology, sirens were originally portrayed as having the head of a woman and the body of a bird. It was only during midieval times that they started being depicted with the fish tails.
So where do mermaid legends actually come from?
The mermaids were originally a kind of sea nymph known as nereids. Nereids were more specifically the 50 daughters of the god ans goddess Nereus and Doris and even though they were descended from devine beings, nereids or nymphs of any kind were neither humans nor dieties but rather were spirits or patron of various things (the oceans, the heavens, the forest etc.). A parallel of a nymph in judeo-christian beleif would be an angel or a demon. The Nereids were all described (like mermaids) of having incomparable beauty and were patrons of the sea and of sailors It was said that they would often help sailors who were lost at sea and could prophesize the coming of storms. They could also have children with humans, in fact Achillies’ mother was a nereid. Over time however, the way nereids were depicted in ancient Greece did change.
Rescuing the Hunk in Distress
Many tales and legends from post renaissance Europe depict mermaids helping sailors lost at sea. The most famous tale of this is Hans Christian Andersens’ the little mermaid where the mermaid saves the prince after his ship was destroyed by a storm. She also fell in love with him and had to give up her voice so the sea witch would give her legs. Although, unlike in the Disney adaptation, in the original story she ended up turning to foam at the end However, they will lend a helping hand to any kind soul lost at sea This is part of the reason that I love mermaids so much, they embody everything that is great about being feminine (namley beauty and kindness) but at the same time they were never the helpless damsel in distress; rather in the story “The Little Mermaid” it was the princess who saved the prince. It just goes to show that being kind and loving doesn’t have to mean being a helpless wuss
Later Stories of Nereids
Between the Archaic and Classical pereiods in ancient Greece (500 BC), the deciptions of nereids did change in several regards.. While before then, they were mainly described as patrons of mariners, after this time they were described as more “patrons of the sea” and more specifially were said to have a profound love for marine animals (specifically dolphins). Also, while before this time they were usually depicted as wearing classic greek attire after their “remodeling” they were for the most part described as being naked. Like before however, they were still described as being very sweet and playful.
Mermaids are Extremely Fond of Sea Life
It’s for this reason that mermaids have such a fondness for virtually all sea creatures. Like their nereid precursors, they have a certain affinity for dolphins and to a lesser extent seals and manatees. However are also fond of sea horses, sea turtles and flamboyant fish species. They tend to have mixed relations with Sharks and Jellyfish. They also often associate with mythical sea creatures such as the Hippocampus and sea serpents.
So where did the tail come from?
Oannes was the name given by the Babylonian writer Berossus in the 3rd century BC to a mythical being who taught mankind wisdom. Berossus describes Oannes as having the body of a man but underneath the body of a fish, and he was among the first to have this iconic characteristic. He is described as dwelling in the Persian Gulf, and rising out of the waters in the daytime and furnishing mankind instruction in writing, the arts and the various sciences. He was the God of the Sea and was originally named Adapa and was first mentioned 3400 years ago. His consort was the moon Goddess Atargatis.
So if the original mermaids didn’t have fish tails, where did the fish tails come from? Well the answer is the Assyrian moon and fertility Goddess Atargatis? Wait a second you might ask, why would a moon goddess have a fish tail. Well to the ancients, the moon, sea and female fertility were all connected. The menstrual cycle followed the lunar cycle as did the tides of the sea. This is why she was depicted with a fish tail. The trait became associated with mermaids in Roman times because the nereids (mermaids) were also heavily associated with femininity. It was also around this time that mermaids started to be called “mermaids”.
Mermaids Still Love the Moon
Because mermaids are part moon goddess, they are particularly fond of the moon. They become particularly active when the moon is full. Quite often they’ll congregate in large groups, some of which will dance underwater while others come ashore and sing in the moonlight. Some are said to undergo various changes (but not like werewolves haha). Sometimes their hair will turn white or blue,their skin becomes radiatnt and their eyes and part of their tail begans to glow
The Mournful Mermaid
Many stories of mermaids revolve around romantic tragedies and involve the characteristic “mermaid mourning after her lost love”. This is another trait that they inherited from the Assyrian moon Goddess. Atargatis was in love with a human shepherd but accidentally killed him. Out of guilt, the goddess flung herself into the ocean hoping to become a fish. But her beauty was so great, that she never could fully become a fish. Instead she became half goddess, half fish, with a tail below the waist and human body above the waist.
The Duyong were mermaids in malaysian mythology. Like the mermaids of western folklore, their basic shape (womans’ body and a fishes’ tail) comes from the legend of Atargatis, and they maintain far more behavioral traits in common with Atargatis then their western counterparts, specifically her mournful nature. It is also The name of the marine mammals known as the dugong was derrived from the Duyong.
Many Traits That We Associate With Mermaids Comes From The British Isles
As the legends of the mermaids passed through various cultures, they went thhrough various cultures and were given various names. One of the versions of the mermaid legends that has the greatest impact on how we view mermaids today is that of the Merrows. These myths came from Ireland and Scotland. The Merrows were described ass having all of the familiar traits of a mermaid with beautiful green hair and turquois-colored scales on their tails. Many of the behavioral charecteristics we associate with mermaids today came from the merrows such their kind, innocent, playful, affectionate and curious depostion.
Quite often we see mermen depicted as the male alternative of mermaids, i.e. handsome young men with a fish tail, but that’s only a fairly recent occurrence. Remember, the mermaids started off as sea nymphs and all nymphs were female. There isn’t any mention of a male counterpart to mermaids until the legend of the merrows. Male merrows were said to have a humanoid shape and a fish tail, but were also said to be grotesque monsters. Because of this, female merrows were said to be more attracted to human males. Also, merrow males were said to be more secretive and numerous than the females.
Relationship With Humans
In most modern folklore, mermaids are said to be very charming, inquisitive and playful. If you jump in the water some of them probably will get inquisitive and swim over to investigate. They may seem a bit shy at first but will eventually come over. Mermaids also like to play with and tease humans who venture into their territory.
But basically there are two and a half main schools of thought
1. They reproduce like marine mammals with copulation and birth
2. They reproduce like fish where the female lays them and the male fertilizes them
2.5. They reproduce like fish but are hermaphroditic; i.e. they can both lay eggs and fertilize them, which would explain the lack of “mermen”
But they definatly do breastfeed (otherwise why would they have boobies). However, that would make them a mammal (MAMMal=>MAMMary) and I guess it’s possible for a mammal to be hermaphroditic and it would also explain the apparent lack of mermen 😛
Although they never wear bras, mermaids still have a varrying sense of style. Most often, they love to decorate their hair with assorted shells an items that they find on the sea floor. Mermaids are also veritable “packrats” and love to collect objects that seem strange to them. They are especially intrigued by unfamiliar (man made) objects such as treasure from a wreck. Often they’ll wear necklaces, bracelets and other jewelry items collected from the ship.
Mermaids are often said to have a great fascination with the surface world as a sort of forbidden realm. Often in stories, they will use shipwrecks as their underwater houses. They are very inquisitive of foreign objects. This aspect may stem from the observable behavior of marine mammals, who when a foreign object enters their domain, they always explore and play with it.
There are many stories of mermaids falling in love with humans. According to a legend, a 16th century mermaid heard the singing of and fell in love with a Cornish boy named Matthew Trewhella. A chair where the two sat together has a mermaid carved on it and it’s said that on summer days, you can hear the two singing together.
According to Irish mythology, the Merrows had a talent for singing. They may very well have got this from sirens. Even though their origins are completely different, in the medieval period they exchanged some characteristics (i.e. the mermaids’ tail and the sirens singing). But later mermaids became more and more associated with musical instruments, their favorite being the harp.
because the legends about mermaids have been historically influenced by Atargatis, many stories about them revolve around a romantic tragedy. While unlike Sirens, they won’t necessarily sing to lure sailors to their death, many stories exist of them falling in love with sailors and singing to attract them. However then the sailors crash and drown and the mermaid is subsequently mournful of their deaths.
You Should Still Always Be Werry if You See One
While mermaids may pose no danger themselves, if you see one, be wary. They’ve also been known to be able to forecast the presence of dangerous storms. So if they don’t look happy to see you watch out. Of course this makes people ponder the question: are mermaids good or evil in this case? Well are they actually causing the storm or just warning you that it’s coming? Who knows?
Powers Mermaids Have
Mermaids are said to have various powers. They can both grant wishes and heal the sick. In the folklore of the British Isles, there are various accounts of assistance, gifts and rewards. One story tells of a fisherman who carried a stranded mermaid back into the sea and was rewarded with the location of treasure. Another story tells of a fishing family that made regular gifts of apples to a mermaid and was rewarded with prosperity. Also, while most are around the same size as a human, there are some accounts of mermaids being 2000 feet tall. According to a legend, a 16th century mermaid heard the singing of and fell in love with a Cornish boy named Matthew Trewhella. A chair where the two sat together has a mermaid carved on it and it’s said that on summer days, you can hear the two singing together.
Because of their playfullness and innocence, mermaids love children and concurrently children are fascinated by them. They love to tell children stories about life under the sea and here about stories about life on land. They love to play with children in the shallow waters and are protective of them against marine predators. They also love to crawl ashore and play in the sand and sing with them as well. One tale recounts the tale of a baby mermaid who stole a doll from a human little girl, but was rebuked by her mother and sent back to the girl with a gift of a pearl necklace to atone for the theft.
First to answer a nagging question: do mermaids breath air or water. Well they have the upper body of a human and since the respiratory organs are on the top, they breathe like we do. i.e. they have lungs and breathe air. They are simply holding their breath underwater. They can snooze underwater for a short period of time as some seals can, but if they want a long slumber they will come ashore. Also, they have the capability of turning their tail into legs so they can walk on land. But these legs are only temporary and can only last for so long. That’s why when on land, mermaids always take baths to grow back their tale.
When mermaid legends traveled around the globe, myths were adopted by local cultures.
Iara is a beautiful young woman, sometimes described as having green hair, light brown or copper-colored skin (as that of an Indigenous Amerindian from Brazil, or of a caboclo) and brown eyes, connected to a freshwater dolphin, manatee or fish body (the Tupi word y did not have a distinct meaning, being used in general for any riverine or freshwater lacustrine place) who would sit on a rock by the river combing her hair or dozing under the sun. When she felt a man around she would start to sing gently to lure him. Once under the spell of the Iara a man would leave anything to live with her underwater forever, which was not necessarily a bad thing, as she was pretty and would cater for all needs of her lover for the rest of his life.
Also, while their story spread around the globe, mermaid tales got combined with local mythology
Sirenas where feature of Philippine mythology It is also said that the Sirena has a very beautiful and enchanting voice that can attract and hypnotize males, especially fishermen. They would sing with enchanting voices while hiding among the rocks by the shore. When the men hear their song they are hypnotized and the Sirena can abduct them. Some old folk traditions claim that the Sirena carry its victims under the sea and offer them to their water deities. While at first they may seem like the European descriptions of Sirens (hence the name) Other stories claim that the Sirena squeezes the life out of drowning men while trying to rescue them. Also, like mermaids they are often accompanied by many different sea creatures such as dugongs, sea turtles, and small cetaceans such as dolphins. Part of their character also seems to stem from the Diwata, who were Philippine quasi-deities who were the patrons of various habitats such as the oceans. So there story seems to be a triple hybrid of mermaids, sirens and diwatas. There were male versions of the Sirena known as Siyokoy and while the Sirena had a human body and a fish tail, the Syokoy had a human form with scales.
Mami Wata is an African water goddess that is worshipped in west, central and southern Africa as well as in the African diaspora. She is the goddess of both salt and freshwater habitats and it was said that she would abduct travelers and introduce them to her spiritual realm and after she released them, they would be more wealthy, attractive and easygoing. Like the merrows of Gaelic mythology, it was said that she would often be seen combing her hair in a mirror. While she has many of the positive attributes that mermaids have in European folklore, she has some of the negative ones as well such as foretelling misfortune.such as in Cameroon, where she is said to cause the undertow that drowns swimmers. Apart from being a water goddess, she is also a healing goddess. Much of Mami Wata’s charecter is believed to be a mythological hybrid of local African traditions and Mermaid legends from the Near East. Her name comes from the Pidgin English pronunciation of “Mammy Water”. Like the Sirena, she seems to be a tripple hybrid of mermaids, sirens and local African sea and water deities.
Variations and Continuing Alterations
Mermaids are generally described as having the upper body of a woman with the lower body of a fish, but there can be a striking degree of variation in these features. On their lower half, some have knees and others don’t and while virtually all have a fish tail at the end some may or may not have pelvic, dorsal or anal fins as well. Also while most mermaids are entirley “human” from the waist up some have fish traits on their body including fin elbows and ears as well as webbed hands and even bioluminesence. Variations in the charecteristics that mermaids have depend on what marine enviorment they inhabit. For example mermaids in areas full of seaweed tend to be green while those in coral reefs are usually quite colorful. Also the more bizarre the creatures that inhabit the area, the more bizarre the mermaids are that live in it.
Apart from Mermaids, there are similar creatures based in Greek mythology.
Like the Nereids, the Oceanids where water nymphs. However, they were descended from the Titans Oceanus and Tethys who were sea gods and goddesses respectively. In Greek mythology, there were three generations of gods: The Olympian gods (Zeus, Poseidon, Aphrodite etc…), who were descended from the Titans who were themselves descended from the primordial deities. Nereus was descended from the primordial sea god Pontus and the primordial earth goddess Gaia. Doris, the mother of the Nereids was herself an Oceanid. Also, in another distinction, while the Nereids where the patrons of sailors and later marine life, Oceanids where the patrons of specific bodies of water.
Sea witches are ocean quasi-dieties and are are based on the oceanids. While, like mermaids their form has evolved over time and is much more variable than that of the mermaids. Sometimes they’re depicted with legs, a tail or two tails. Also, they tend to have more “exotic” traits such as white hair and oddly coloried eyes. While some may resemble mermaids, there are distinct differences in their abilities. While mermaids could only forecasr the weather and had a limited ability to control sea life sea witches an create huge ocean storms and can control all the animals in watever realm that they occupy. Like the Oceanids, there is only one sea witch per major body of water and their ability to manipulate the ocean is something that they have in common with Oceanids.
The Naiads where the patrons of fresh water and shared some chrecteristics of both the Nereids and Oceanids. Like the Oceanids, each Naiad was the patron of a body of fresh water but they would often congregate in one or another’s abode. It was said that children threw their childhood locks into the local bodies of fresh water as an offering to the Naiad. The Naiads were also said to often seduce men into their homes. There were several types of Naiads who varried greatly in their charecteristics. The Crinaeae where the patrons of fountains and wells. The Eleionomae inhabited marshes and when men walked past they would mimic the form of their deceased loved ones and seduce them with their beauty. The Limnads inhabited lakes, The Pegaeae inhabited springs and the Potamides inhabited rivers and were said to help girls remove their freckles but were aggressive towards men whom they would lure into their residence. Offerings of oil, milk and honey were often made to them.
Undines are a later version of the Naiads from Medieval times. In Greek and Medieval sciences, it was beleived that there were four main elements: earth, water, fire and air, each represented by elemental beings. The undines were the elemental beings of water while the sylphs were the beings of air, the gnomes were the beings of Earth and the salamanders were the beings of fire. It was said that even though the undines were indistinguishable from humans in form, they lacked a soul and could attain one along with immortality if they married a human. They were said to sing with beutiful voices that could be heard over the waters within which they inhabited. They were also fabled to have caused congenital central hypoventilation syndrome which to this day in known as Ondines’ Curse.
Melusine was a freshwater mermaid said to live in France about 1000 yearts ago. She was sometimes depicted as a standard mermaid, other times as a mermaid with two tails and still other times as having the lower body of a snake. It was said that her mother was a fairy named pressyne, married King Elynas of Albany and gave birth to her and two other daughters. According to legend, if a fairy married a mortal, he couldn’t see her give birth in the chamber, but he did. Because of this, she fled to Avalon. When Melusine was 15, she discovered this and she kidnapped her father and locked him in a mountian. Her mother became enraged by this and in response gave her her tail. She was said to inhabit the lakes and rivers of France. She also was in an arranged marriage with raymond of Poitou but she said he could never see her in her chamber. He looked and saw her lower half and she was enraged but she forgave him. But she then turned into a dragon and flew off, but gave her two magic rings. She was also said to have been the mother of the French Lusignan royal house that ruled cyprus from 1192 to 1489.
The Rusalkas of Russian mythology could be considired a 3 way hybrid between Naiads, Sirens and local mythology. Ruslakas were said to be the spirits of maidens who died near a body of fresh water. It was said that they would lure men into their abodes with their beauty and songs and drown them in the lakes. Some myths say that Rusalkas can’t leave the water while others say that they can climb trees and it is said that they are most active in the summer particularly during the last week of June which in Russia is known as “Rusalka Week.”
Nixies are freshwater mermaids from Germanic mythology. Just as the marine mermaids are based on the Nereids, the Nixies came mostly from the Naiads and while they may look similar, there are many differences in their behavior. For one, while saltwater mermaids tend to be more playful and when they are with men they’re attracted to they are flirtatious, Nixies tend to be more straightforward and seductive. But if you encounter one, be careful, because while some are seductinve for the sake of being attracted, others do so with mallacious intent similar to sirens. However, this view of them doing so out of mallacious intent may have arisen from the Ancient Greek view of women having freedom over their sexuality as opposed to having it decided by a man as being somehow “wrong” which is also where “slut shaming” comes from. Also, while saltwater mermaids are fond of adorning their bodies with shells and jewelry, Nixies usually use flowers or other vegetation.
Lady of the Lake
The other famous freshwater nymph is known quocially as the “Lady of the Lake” in the legends of king Aurthur. The lady of the lake was a mystical being and was said to have learned her magic from the Wizard Merlin and gave Kinf Aurther his sword. In Sir Thomas Malory’s version of the story, there are two ladies of the lakes. One is Nimue and the other is Nyneve. Nimue was one of the key Charecters in Malory’s version of the story and over the course of the tale Nimue evolved from a dependant “damsel in distress” to an individual who could take charge of the situation around her and was said to be pragmatic, unfappable and knowledgeable. Nyneve was the orignal lady of the lake who gave Aurthur his sword. Since then the lady of the lake has been adapted to a variety of literary traditions.
The Ceasg where freshwater mermaids from Scottish mythology. The had the characteristic shape of a mermaid and more specifically, had the tail of a salmon and were said to inhabit the lakes and rivers of the Scottish highlands. It was said that they could marry humans and their children would make great sailors. They were also known by the Gaelic names of “maighdean na tuinne” (maid of the wave) or “maighdean mhara (maid of the sea). It is said that if they were captured, they would grant whoever captured them three wishes.
A diffreent kind of water nymph derrived from the Nereids developed during the Roman times. These were known as water sprites. The word “sprite” comes from the Latin word spiritus which translates into “spirit”. As their name suggests they were not physical beings. While the Nereids and other water nymphs were supernatural beings, they still were physical ones. But the sprites had no physical body and were instead metaphysical beings made up of spiritual energy. And while Nereids/mermaids were patrons of both sailors and sea life the sprites were only the patrons of sea life.
The concept of a “sprite” was derrived in Roman times as a metaphysical version of the nymphs of ancient Greek mythology. However, as their legends developed over time, they again became physical beings. Specifically, they became what we no know as fairies. This is why we have different kinds of faries for each enviorment. But also, woodland fairies are the most common because forest sprites were the most abundant sprites in Roman mythology. However, there were also water sprites which became sea fairies. However, unlike land fairies who have insect like wings water fairies have fin like wings.
Selkies are yet another mythological anthropomorphic sea creature. In the water, they are said to have the entire body of a seal but when they came out on land, they could shed their skin to reveal a completley human creature. Like Mermaids, Selkies are also very intetested in forming romantic relationships with humans and often spend hours in admiration of a human. But unlike in Mermaids, Selkie males are frequently mentioned and are described as being incredibly handsome. Selkies were said to live on the British and Faroe Islands like the merrows and folk tales around Selkies usually involve romantic tragedies.
Also, While We’re Talking About Seals and Mermaids, Lets Not Forget
Thehehe, I just had to put that up there 🙂 ❤ ❤ ❤
Cecaelia can be thought of a cephalopod version of a mermaid who instead of having a fish tail have the lower body of an octopus. Unlike mermaids, they cannot grow legs and while mermaids have generally sweet personalities, Cecaelia have a wide variety of characteristics. They can be sweet, evil or in-between. While many myths of female anthropomorphic/chimeric sea creatures come from Greek and Roman mythology, such myths can be found elsewhere throughout the world in places as far apart as Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Scottish mythology tells us Ashrays, or Water Lovers, are completely translucent water creatures that are often mistaken for sea ghosts. They can be both male and female and can be found only under water. Being completely nocturnal, one would never come across such creatures during the day. When captured and exposed to sunlight ashrays supposedly melt and only a puddle of water remains.
Many stories of mermaids arose independently from around the world.
The One Thousand and One Nights collection includes several tales featuring “sea people”, such as “Djullanar the Sea-girl”. Unlike depictions of mermaids in other mythologies, these are anatomically identical to land-bound humans, differing only in their ability to breathe and live underwater. They can (and do) interbreed with land humans, and the children of such unions have the ability to live underwater. In the tale “Abdullah the Fisherman and Abdullah the Merman”, the protagonist Abdullah the Fisherman gains the ability to breathe underwater and discovers an underwater society that is portrayed as an inverted reflection of society on land. The underwater society follows a form of primitive communism where concepts like money and clothing do not exist. In “The Adventures of Bulukiya”, the protagonist Bulukiya’s quest for the herb of immortality leads him to explore the seas, where he encounters societies of mermaids
The Jiaoren of Chinese legend were a kind of “Dragon People” that lived in the South China Sea. While in European mythology, dragons were associated with fire, in Chinese mythology, they were water spirits. And in contrast to European depictions of mermaids, there isn’t any record of the Jiaoren having fish-like tails. It was said that when the Jiaoren cried, their tears would turn to pearls. It was also said that they could weave “jiaoxiao” which translates into “mermaid silk”. It was said to be identical to the kind of filaments that bivalve mollusks anchor themselves to the shore with. By some accounts, their bodies are covered with colorful hair and their hands and feet are webbed.
Suvannamaccha was a mermaid princess in Hindu mythology who was said to live in Southeast Asia. In the Hindu epic Ramayana the goddess Sita is captured by the demon Ravana and Sitas’ husband Rama asked Hanuman to build a causeway to the island of Lanka where she was being held so his armies could rescue her. While building the causeway, mermaids kept stealing stones so he tried to speak to a mermaid but she kept swimming away. As he pursued her, he fell in love with her. He finally met her and she revealed herself as Suvannamaccha and that she was the daughter of Rama. But when Hanuman told her why the causeway was being built she sympathized with his cause and told her mermaids to put the rocks back. Eventually her and Hanuman fell and love and had a child named Macchanu.
Matsyāṅganā exists within India, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Burma, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam,. Believed to be the first recording of mermaids in history, Matsya (Sanskrit: मत्स्य, literally “Fish”) is the avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu in the form of a fish. Often listed as the first avatar in the lists of the ten primary avatars of Vishnu, Matsya is described to have rescued the first man, Manu from a great deluge. Matsya may be depicted as a giant fish or anthropomorphically, with a human torso and the bottom half as a fish, similar to Nagas, which can be described as a giant snake or a snake with a human torso.
Nyai Loro Kidul
Nyai Loro Kidul (also spelled Nyi Roro Kidul) is a legendary Indonesian female spirit or deity, known as the Queen of the Southern Sea of Java. According to Javanese beliefs, she is also the mythical spiritual consort of the Sultans of Mataram and Yogyakarta, beginning with Senopati and continuing to the present day. Nyai Loro Kidul is often illustrated as a mermaid with a tail as well the lower part of the body of a snake or a fish. The mythical creature is claimed to take the soul of any who she wished for. According to local popular beliefs around coastal villages on Southern Java, the Queen often claim lives of fishermen or visitors that bathe on the beach, and she usually prefers handsome young men. Her story is also often tied in with the beauty of Sundanese and Javanese princesses. Stories of her date all the way back to the Sunda kingdom from 1300 years ago and some speculate her origins go back even further to the animistic beliefs of the region.
Pania, often styled “Pania of the Reef”, is a figure of Māori mythology, and a symbol of the New Zealand city of Napier. Pania of the Reef was a beautiful maiden who lived in the sea on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. By daylight she swam about with creatures of her reef world but after sunset would go to a stream that ran into the bay where the city of Napier now exists. She would travel up the stream to an area where she could rest among the flaxbushes. Karitoki, the very handsome son of a Māori chief, quenched his thirst every evening at the stream where Pania rested because it had the sweetest water. He was unaware she was observing him for many weeks until one night she whispered a faint spell. It carried on the wind to Karitoki who turned around to see Pania emerge from her hiding place. They later got married but Pania had to return to the sea everyday. But if she ate cooked food, she could never return to the sea again. So Karitoki tricked her into eating cooked food and upon realizing this, she ran into the sea where the sirens pulled her into the depths where she was never to be seen again. A statue of her is erected in Napier.
The Taino peope who lived in the carribean Islands upon the time of Christopher Columbuses’ arrival had their own legends of a mermaid which they called Aycayia. Like Atargatis, the Aycayia were said to reperesent fertility and would enchant men with their beauty. However, they also represented sin and lust. While they would not lure men to their deaths like sirens, they would rob them of their free will and use their beauty to enslave their minds.
Sedna was the Inuit goddess of the sea and all marine animals and she was worshipped by virtually all inuit cultures from Greenland to Alaska. She was said to be the daughter of the creator-god Anguta who becomes dissatisfied with her life choices and castes her into the sea. In other versions, Sedna is a beautiful maiden who was arranged to be married to a hunter in another village. She refuses but then the hunter reveals his true form to be a bird-spirit and takes her to his nest. Her father comes to rescue her but while on the Kayak, the bird-spirit creates a powerful storm and she falls of the kayak and sinks to the bottom of the sea where she grow as fish tail and becomes the patron of all marine life. A planetary body was discovered out past the orbit of Neptune and it was named after Sedna. At the point that it’s farthest from the sun, it’s said to be the most distant object known in the solar system at 936 AU and it takes 11.400 years to orbit the sun.
The Nibiinaabe are a race of water sprites from Anishinabe folklore. Nibinabe are usually described as being shaped like mermaids, with human torsos and fish tails. They are said to be frightened off by loud noises. They are said to be freshwater mermaids who live in the deep, cold waters of the Great Lakes. The Anishinabe where a confederation of tribes that were made up of the Ojibway, Algonquin, Pottawatomie and the Menominee peoples.
Chalciuhtlicue was the water Goddess of the Aztecs. Her name translates to “she of the jade skirt”. Even though she was worshipped by the Aztecs, her origin seems to predate them because she was revered by many other nations in MesoAmerica such as the Tlaxcalans, the enemies of the Aztecs, who referred to her as “Matlalcueitl”. She was the wife (in some myths, sister) of the rain god, Tlaloc. Like other water deities, she was often associated with serpents. She was the mother of Tecciztecatl, an Aztec moon god. Chalchiuhtlicue helped Tlaloc rule the kingdom of Tlalocan. It is believed that Tlaloc was one of the first ‘abuser’ gods and because of this Chalchiuhtlicue retaliated by releasing 52 years of rain, causing a giant flood which caused the fourth world to be destroyed. She built a bridge linking heaven and earth and those who were in Chalchiuhtlicue’s good graces were allowed to traverse it. The other residents of the earth were turned into fish so they wouldn’t drown. Chalchiuhtlicue used the flood as an act of purification of human kind. Because of this flood we are believed to live in the Fifth World. According to Aztec legend, Chalchiuhtlicue at one point devoured the sun and moon. In Aztec culture she was said to personify youthful beauty and ardor.
Lumpeguins are water sprites or little mermaids of Wabanaki mythology. In some stories lumpeguins have humanoid form, while in others, they have fish tails. As with many nature spirits in Native American folklore, a lumpeguin falls under the power of anybody who steals his or her magical garments, and in some legends lumpeguin women are claimed as wives by people (or animals) who capture their clothing. Lumpeguins are often said to be able to create food, either turning a morsel of food into a large feast, baking bread from snow, or using a magical pot to produce an infinite amount of food. One of the most famous ones was named Ne Hwas, who, while a little girl was told not to swim in the water by her parents. But when she did she turned into a mermaid.
The Pincoya is said to be a female water spirit which inhabits the Chilotan seas between the island of Chiloe and the Chilean mainland. She was said to be of incomparable beauty with long. blonde hair. Naked and pure, she was said to represent the fertility of the organisms that inhabited the ocean. She was also said to have the quintessential personality traits of mermaids such as being cheerful and sensual. Legend has it that she will rise from the deep and dance on the shoreline. If she dances facing the sea, there will be an abundance of fish and marine organisms in the ocean and if she dances facing the mountians, there will be a scarcity. Her father was the king of the sea Millalobo and her mother was the human Huenchula and she had a sister Sirena Chilota (a mermaid) and a brother Pincoy. It was said that the three would find the souls of drowned sailors and bring them to the phanto ship Caleuche. After they went on board this ship it was said that they could resume existence as if they were alive again.
Yemoja is one of the most prominent African Water Deity. In Yoruba mythology, Yemoja is a mother spirit; patron spirit of women, especially pregnant women; the ocean; and the Ogun river. Her name is a contraction of the Yoruba words “Yeye omo eja” which means “Mother whose children are like fish.” This represents the vastness of her motherhood, her fecundity, and her reign over all living things. She has triannual feasts held in her honor on the 2nd of february, the 8th of December and the 31st of December. She is worshiped not only in Africa but also amongst the African Diaspora in Brazil, Uruguay and Cuba. She is also known as Yemayá in Spanish and Iemanja in French. In some stories she is also a Moon Goddess. She may very well have been the basis of Mami Wata.
There Homes Are in Danger!!!
Seriously, the oceans are being overfished at an alarming rate. A few hundred years ago, whales were said to be so abundant that when ever a sailor looked out at the sea he or she was bound to see a whale blowing a spout. But now they’re hard to find. And it’s not just whales, fish stocks are being over exploited, so horrible is it that many marien biologists predict that by 2048 the oceans will be empty. On top of being over exploited, the oceans are under threat from pollution. Mercury in some places is so abundant that when the fish are consumed, it causes neurotic impacts on the consumer. There is a huge sea of plastic trash in the North Pacific and the oceans are under threat from acidification from the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is especially harmful for organisms that use calcium carbonate skeletons like corals. As I said before, mermaids are the spirits of the ocean and love all marine creatures but right now their home is in danger. You can do your part to protect it
There You Have it.
Anyway you look at it mermaids are fascinating creatures. They embody such things as grace, beauty, kindness and loyalty and their origin is deeply tied to the sacred feminine. Even though there are many tales of mermaids from around the world so many of them share these wonderful attributes. And that’s why I’ve always been so fascinated by their story and I wanted to share their various stories from around the globe. 🙂