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Myths and Legends Pop Culture

Feast of Li Ban Muirgen, The Irish Mermaid Saint

Saint Li Ban Muirgen of Ireland

January 27th is the feast day of Saint Li Ban Muirgen of Ireland. She is a lesser-known mermaid Saint of Ireland and her story is miraculous and mystifying.

Saint Li Ban Muirgen’s story dates back to the 6th century and passed down generation to generation with the oral tradition of scéalaíocht or storytelling. It was also was preserved in the medieval manuscript of Annals of the Four Masters, which isa compilation of medieval Irish legends written by Irish monks in the 17th century.

So, who was this mermaid Saint?

Our story begins in the year 558. Li Ban (meaning beautiful woman in old Irish) was the daughter of Eochaidh, King of Ulster.  When her father’s kingdom flooded, drowning all its inhabitants except for Li Ban and her dog, forming the Lough Neagh Lake.

Li Ban spent the next year, living under the lough with her dog. She would pray to the goddess Danu, asking to be turned into a salmon, so she could swim with the fish for company. Danu, did grant Li Ban’s wish, but only half of it. Li Ban’s dog became an otter and she was transformed into a mermaid.

Li Ban swam out of the lough and out into the sea. She lived in an underwater cave and like most mermaids, had the most beautiful singing voice. Li Ban drifted for three-hundred years, fulfilling a prophecy:

Liban will swim eastwards, westwards, hither, thither, over each sea.

300 years had passed, when Comgall had founded the monastery  in Bangor, that is known as the Bangor Mor. The Bangor Mor was revered throughout all of Ireland and became a place, where many young men came to study.

One day, Comgall sent Beoan and the monks to Rome with a message for Pope Gregory. While they were out at sea, Beoan caught Li Ban in his fishing net and she promised to return to them in a year.

A year had passed, Li Ban came ashore as promised, and Comgall baptized her with the name Muirgen. Li Ban passed away not long after her baptism. Comgall had promised Li Ban a heavenly reward and she became known as the Mermaid Saint.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Saint Li Ban Muirgen’s story is that there are remnants of it today. If you journey to Bangor, there is an abbey that remembers Comgall and the mermaid with a quilt, hanging on the transept wall, depicting the story of the mermaid.

Categories
Disney's The Little Mermaid Hans Christian Andersen Pop Culture

The Goddess: Sierra Boggess

 

Sierra Boggess as Ariel in the Broadway Adaptation of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”. Production Photo by Joan Marcus.

For those who truly know me, know that Sierra Boggess has been an inspiration of mine since 2008.  That year, Sierra originated the role as Ariel and made her Broadway debut in Disney’s stage musical adaption of The Little Mermaid.

Something in my heart, knew that my life would change forever when I purchased the soundtrack (compact disc) at Border’s Bookstore. And it did. The soundtrack changed my life and to this day, it’s always on repeat. But more importantly, Sierra’s message of:

You are Enough.

You are so Enough.

It’s Unbelievable how Enough You are! 

 Sierra and her voice, has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams, when I had many telling me I couldn’t or I wasn’t good enough. Whenever I listen to her sing Part of Your World or If Only (Quartet), I’m reminded that our dreams are worth striving for, regardless of what others say and that making sacrifices is part of that journey.

I personally use my Light Lessons by Sierra Boggess as motivation and inspiration daily.  Sierra’s Light Lesson’s are daily reminders that you can change the world with kindness and gratitude practice. That we can all lift each other up, by showing the world, our best selves and recognizing our enoughness!

So how did Sierra Boggess land the iconic role of Ariel on Broadway?

Sierra Boggess as Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Las Vegas Production of The Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian Hotel. Production Photo taken by Joan Marcus.

In 2006, Sierra went to New York to audition for a new production of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical The Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas.  Before she had boarded her flight, Sierra got a call that she had landed the role of Christine. It was a role of a lifetime!

As an alternate Christine, she would perform alongside Brent Barrett and Anthony Crivello as her Phantom’s. This production was directed by Hal Prince. The show opened on June 24th, 2006.

Sierra dazzled the Las Vegas stage as Christine, embodying the character’s innocence, empathy, and strength, unlike any other actress before her.

Sierra Boggess as Ariel and Sean Palmer as Prince Eric in the Disney 2008 Broadway Production of  The Little Mermaid. Production Photo taken by Joan Marcus.

In October 2006, Sierra returned to New York to audition for Disney’s new musical The Little Mermaid for the role of Ariel.  The musical would be based off of Disney’s animated film version of The Little Mermaid. Sierra unfortunately, didn’t receive a call-back for the audition, so she returned to Las Vegas, and continued to play Christine in The Phantom of the Opera.

While she was attending a yoga class in January 2007, Sierra received a call from her agent telling her to “fly to NYC in three days for a final callback for The Little Mermaid. “And that is how she got the iconic role of Ariel on Broadway!

Norm Lewis as King Triton and Sierra Boggess as Ariel in Disney’s Broadway adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Production Photo taken by Joan Marcus.

On November 3rd, 2007 the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in NYC, Sierra Boggess made her Broadway debut as Ariel! The official opening night for the production of The Little Mermaid was January 10th, 2008.

As a fan of Sierra’s, since her Broadway debut, I don’t think she understood the impact, she would later have on musical theater and on the lives of many. I have fond memories of watching Sierra sing Part of Your World on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Tony Awards, and so many other TV programs, desperately wishing I could someday see her perform live.

Sierra received nominations from Drama Desk and Drama League and won the Broadway.com Favorite Breakthrough Performance for her role as Ariel!

Thank you Sierra Boggess, for inspiring so many and to embrace who they are! You are a true inspiration and incredible performer! And remember…You are Enough. You are so Enough. It’s unbelievable how Enough You Are!

 

Categories
Myths and Legends

The Legend of Tiamat

Tiamat the Babylonian goddess of salt water and chaos

Babylon. Better known, as the cradle of civilization by historians, is also one of the early birthplaces of  mermaid’s.

Map of Ancient Mesopotamia

For the ancient Babylonians, Tiamat was the salt-water goddess of water and the personification of chaos. 

According to legend, Tiamat (salt-water goddess) and Aspu (freshwater god) had a sacred union, that  produced many other gods and goddess. 

During this time, the world was nothingness and dark. As Aspu and Tiamat slept, the other gods and goddesses, were busy creating the universe. Aspu awoke to the commotion and became enraged. The other gods, murdered Aspu, in an intense battle. 

When Tiamat woke up and was enraged, that the other gods and goddess, had killed her beloved husband. Out of anger, she spawned many monsters and dragons. 

One of the dragons, Marduk went to battle against Tiamat. He cut her in half, and the two rivers, flowed from her eyes, creating the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.