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Myths and Legends Pop Culture

The Mermaid by Alfred Lord Tennyson

A Mermaid by John William Waterhouse (1900)

Alfred Lord Tennyson had written a poem titled The Mermaid that was included in his 1893 novel, The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson. The poem below:

The Mermaid 

I. 

Who would be
A mermaid fair,
Singing alone,
Combing her hair
Under the sea,
In a golden curl
With a comb of pearl,
On a throne?

II. 

I would be a mermaid fair;
I would sing to myself the whole of the day;
With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair;
And still as I comb’d I would sing and say,
Who is it loves me? who loves not me?
I would comb my hair till my ringlets would fall
Low adown, low adown,
From under my starry sea-bud crown
Low adown and around,
And I should look like a fountain of gold
Springing alone
With a shrill inner sound,
Over the throne
In the midst of the hall;
Till that great sea-snake under the sea
From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps
Would slowly trail himself sevenfold
Round the hall where I sate, and look in at the gate
With his large calm eyes for the love of me.
And all the mermen under the sea
Would feel their immortality
Die in their hearts for the love of me.

III. 

But at night I would wander away, away,
I would fling on each side my low-flowing locks,
And lightly vault from the throne and play
With the mermen in and out of the rocks;
We would run to and fro, and hide and seek,
On the broad sea-wolds in the crimson shells,
Whose silvery spikes are nighest the sea.
But if any came near I would call, and shriek,
And adown the steep like a wave I would leap
From the diamond-ledges that jut from the dells;
For I would not be kiss’d by all who would list,
Of the bold merry mermen under the sea;
They would sue me, and woo me, and flatter me,
In the purple twilights under the sea;
But the king of them all would carry me,
Woo me, and win me, and marry me,
In the branching jaspers under the sea;
Then all the dry pied things that be
In the hueless mosses under the sea
Would curl round my silver feet silently,
All looking up for the love of me.
And if I should carol aloud, from aloft
All things that are forked, and horned, and soft
Would lean out from the hollow sphere of the sea,
All looking down for the love of me.

Categories
Myths and Legends

Grimm’s Fairy Tale of The Nixie in the Mill-Pond

Illustration by Otto Ubbelohde to the fairy tale The Nixie of the Mill-Pond

The Nixie of the Mill-Pond was written by the Brothers Grimm and is included in their collection of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales that was published in 1857.

The Nixie of the Mill-Pond tells the story of a miller and his wife, who are on the brink of losing their mill farm. One day, a beautiful nixie ascends from the water and visits the farm, calling the miller by name. The miller confides in the nixie about the state of the mill farm and how he’s going to lose his livelihood and home. The nixie strikes a deal with the miller, that he will give him wealth, if he gives her whatever is born that morning. The miller assumes that the nixie is talking about a dog or farm animal, so he agrees to the hasty deal.

When the miller returned home, his wife had given birth to healthy baby boy. It doesn’t take long, for the miller to come to the realization that the nixie knew that his wife was giving birth to his son and that he owed the nixie his son. The miller and his wife are perplexed on what to do, since they don’t want to give the nixie their child.

Years pass, the miller”s wealth grows, as does his son. Yet, the miller is still concerned about the nixie returning to collect his son.

The son became a skilled hunter and marries a girl from a nearby village. One day, the son shoots a deer and washes the blood from the deer in the mill-pond. The nixie snatches the son, taking him underwater with her.

The Nixie of the Mill-Pond illustration by H.J. Ford

When he didn’t return home, his wife becomes worried, and suspects that the nixie is behind his disappearance. She goes to the pond and calls out her husbands name and the nixie, begging for his return. She falls asleep at the waters edge and has a vivid dream, that she is climbing up a cliff and meets an old woman, inside a cottage. She wakes up the next morning, and does exactly what her dream had told her to do, so she goes up the mountain and finds a cottage with an old woman inside. The old woman, gives her a gold comb and instructs her to comb her hair at the pond’s edge on a full moon and set the comb on the water’s edge, once she’s done. Her husband rises to the surface, briefly, sorrowfully, then a wave drags him back into the water.

The wife is unsatisfied with having only seen a glimpse of her husband, so she returns to the old lady in the cottage. The old woman hands the wife a golden flute. She instructs her to play it on a full moon at the pond’s edge, just as before. She does as she’s instructed and places the flute on the sand.  Her husband partially ascends from the depths of the pond and is once again, dragged down from a wave.

The wife visits the old woman at the cottage for a third time. She is desperate to be reunited with her husband. The old woman gives her gold spinning wheel and instructs her to spin flax under the full moon, until she had a full spool to place on the bank of the pond. The wife does as she’s instructed, and this time, her husband breaks free from the water, enraging the nixie. The nixie conjures a large wave to pull the couple into the water, but they escape.

The couple goes to the old woman for help and she transforms the couple into frogs. A flood transports the couple to the pond, where they are transformed back into their human forms, but are separated from each other. The couple become shepherds as a way to support themselves and are lonely and depressed without one another.

Many years pass, and the couple are reunited tending to their flocks, but do not recognize each other. One night, the man plays on the same flute, the very same song that she had played years ago at the pond. The woman begins to cry, overwhelmed with emotion and tells him the story of how she lost her husband.

Moments pass, and they finally recognize each other. They kiss and lived happily ever after.

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Myths and Legends Pop Culture

The Mermaid of Zennor

St. Senara Church in Zennor

A popular Cornish folklore is the Mermaid of Zennor. The mermaid is beautiful, but there is one detail about this legend that is distinct from other mermaid legends. The human is the one with the enthralling singing voice, not the mermaid. 

The small town of Zennor in St. Ives, is known for two things: The Mermaid of Zennor and the Mermaid chair (located inside St. Senara’s Church). 

The legend is about a beautiful, young woman, dressed in fine clothes, who attended mass occasionally at St. Senara’s Church, located in the small coastal village of Zennor. The mermaid named Morveren never aged, which baffled the parishioners, who had seen her attend mass for years, and would watch her from Tregarthen Hill. Morveren was the daughter of the sea king Llyr and resided in Pendour Cove, which wasn’t that far from St. Senara’s Church.

After many years, Morveren became smitten with Matthew Trewella, who was “the best singer in the parish”. Matthew was known for having the most beautiful singing voice and was incredibly handsome. She was so infatuated with him, that she only attended mass to see him sing.

The Mermaid of Zennor, by John Reinhard Weguelin (1900)

Matthew, eventually figured out that the beautiful woman, was a mermaid disguised as a human. It didn’t take long for Matthew and Morveren to fall in the love. Yet, one thing ached Morveren. She desperately wanted to tell Matthew, that she was a mermaid, since she couldn’t be with him on land, knowng that she had to return to the sea.

When Morveren told Matthew that she had to leave, he told her that he couldn’t live without her in his life. So, Matthew followed Morveren to Pendour Cove, where she jumped into the water and he did the same. It is said, that they lived happily in the sea.

Locals wondered what had happened to the happy couple, since they had simply disappeared.

Years later, when a mermaid appeared to sailors, asking for the anchor to be raised, since she couldn’t reach her children. The sailors kindly obliged and raised the anchor for her. It’s speculated that the mermaid they had seen was none other than Morveren, the mermaid who had lured Matthew to live with her in the sea.

Pendour Cove locals say on calm nights, Matthew’s sweet voice can be heard over the waves. That if his voice is high, the waters will be calm, but if it his voice is low, it will be rough waters. Even in the ocean’s depths, Matthew still sings his love and devotion to the Mermaid of Zennor, Morveren.

The Mermaid Chair and Alter at St. Senara’s Church in Zennor

But our story, doesn’t end there.

Inside, St. Senara’s Church at Zennor, there is a 15th century, medieval seat carved with a mermaid. The Mermaid Chair as it’s called, depicts a mermaid holding a mirror and comb. It is said, that the mermaid in the carving is the Mermaid of Zennor and that this was the very seat, that she would listen to Matthew sing at the parish.

 

 

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Myths and Legends Pop Culture

Kaysha Siemens: Fine Artist and Illustrator

WaveWatcher painting by Kaysha Siemens

Kaysha Siemens was born and raised in Canada, and currently resides in the state of North Carolina, USA. She is a very talented artist and illustrator, whose main mediums are graphite and oil.

Her style is unique and full of exquisite detail. Kaysha’s figures are flowing and fluid, while her backgrounds are linear and structured. This style gives Kaysha’s art balance and pulls you into her work!

Kaysha’s main source of inspiration is Greek Mythology. Her MNEMOSYNE collection is a compilation of all of her works inspired by the Greek Mythologies. MNEMOSYNE is the Greek Goddess of memory and the Mother of the Greek Muses. The Greek Muses were connected to the arts and to knowledge. 

Kaysha’s art and illustrations showcases an array of monsters, gods, goddess, NEREIDS (mermaids), and TRITONS (mermen).

According to Greek Mythology, the water nymphs were subcategorized into three kinds of species. The OCEANIDS resided in the sea, NEREIDS lived in freshwater and seawater, and the NAIADS lived in springs, lakes, and rivers.

Commissioned Mermaid Illustration by Kaysha Siemens

Kaysha’s mermaids are straight out of a fairy tale. In fact, none of   her mermaids are identical. They’re unique and have their own personality in their own little under the sea havens. Each mermaid is full of elaborate details, such as their hair and intricate tails. Her work is as compelling as a mermaid luring a sailor out at sea, singing her euphoric song!

Kaysha Siemens is definitely an artist to follow and she’s currently open for commissions!

Categories
Myths and Legends Pop Culture

Siren on FreeForm

Eline Powell as Ryn on the FreeForm show Siren

Siren premiered on FreeForm on March 29th, 2018 to rave reviews for showcasing the first polyamorous mermaid romance on the small screen.

Siren tells the story of young mermaid, Ryn (Eline Powell) who is searching for her sister Donna (Sibongile Mlambo) in the coastal town Bristol Cove. Bristol Cove is the mermaid capital of the world for its strong connections to the mythical creature.

Upon Ryn’s arrival, she meets Ben Pownall (Alex Roe) and his girlfriend Maddie Bishop (Fola Evans-Akingbola), who are marine biologists. They find Ryn enthralling and want to help Ryn find her sister.

Ben’s  friends Xander (Ian Verdum) and Calvin (Curtis Lum) tell him about how they had caught a mermaid on their fishing boat and believe that the US Government stole her from them. At first, Ben thinks their talk is gibberish and doesn’t believe their story, yet

It doesn’t take long for Ben to discover that Ryn is a mermaid and seeks the help of town historian and mermaid enthusiast Helen Hawkins (Rena Owen). Helen warns Ben that even though Ryn is very beautiful, she is also very dangerous and her instinct is to kill her prey.

Helen also takes the liberty to tell Ben that his family history in Bristol Cove is connected to mermaids and that it’s not all good. The Pownall family was responsible for a mass genocide of mermaids centuries ago and hints that she, herself, might be related to him. Ben leaves Helen’s with more questions then answers.

Ben and Maddie, soon find themselves falling for Ryn in ways that they had never imagined before.

Siren explores the dark secrets of the Pownall family and how it’s connection to mermaids. The show also pushes the envelope, when it comes to the traditional mermaid mythologies. The mermaids on Siren may look sweet, but they are dangerous, predatory creatures who are much smarter then the average human.

Siren was a compelling show that had 3 very successful seasons. The show officially marked it’s end in Spring 2020.

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Myths and Legends Pop Culture

The Rusalky of the Ukraine

Rusalka by Ashly Lovett

According to the legends in the Ukraine, the Rusalky, Rusalka or mermaid was a young, attractive water nymph who adorned her long green or blonde hair with wreaths made of marsh. Perhaps, the most prominent features of a Rusalky was their almost translucent skin and their eyes that were a green fire. They also have the ability to transform into animals, whenever it pleases them.

The Rusalky were the souls of drowned girls and unbaptized children, who reside in underwater crystal palaces for majority of the year, until springtime.They would however, emerge from the water on Rusalka Easter (six or seven weeks after Christian Easter), where they would come to land to dance and play.

In early June, during Rusalka Week, is when the Rusalky is said to be at their most dangerous. It is said, that during this time of year, people avoid swimming, in fear of being pulled underwater by the water nymphs.

When a Rusalky, is on land, they appear to be beautiful, lighthearted young girls, but they aren’t. They are dangerous creatures, especially towards humans. It is said, that a Rusalky had the power to enthrall a man with her voice, and would then proceed to drown or tickle him to death. She could also kill a man with her sensual laugh.

If a man wanted to protect himself from the Rusalky, he would wear an amulet made of wormwood or lovage, or carry pieces of lucky cloth.

The Rusalky are in many ways, the classic mermaid. They’re beautiful, yet dangerous creatures.

Categories
Myths and Legends Pop Culture

The Legend of Moana-Nui-Ka-Lehua

Official Disney Moana movie still

Did you know that Disney’s 2016 film Moana is based on a Polynesian legend?

Moana-Nui-Ka-Lehua was a Polynesian water goddess/mermaid, who resided in the ocean between the two islands Hawaiian islands of K’aui and O’ahu. It was Moana’s duty to guard the Ka’ie’ie Channel with the help of two two shark gods named Kuna and Kahole-a-Kane.

According to some legends, Moana appeared as a fish, while in others she was as a half-human half-fish hybrid (mermaid). Moana had the power to summon storms whenever she wanted.

Official Disney Moana movie still

Moana according to legend, wasn’t always the well-mannered goddess as depicted in Disney’s film version of Moana. Like many other deity’s and goddesses, Moana was mischievous and playful.

Moana prevented the volcano/fire goddess Pele from being with her human Lohiau by brewing a storm, so that the couple couldn’t go beyond the reef to be married.

However, there was one god, who could match Moana and that was Maui. Moana met the fisherman god, Maui (the island of Maui is named after him), when she found him fishing in her waters. She snatched his fishhook from the rock it was sitting on.

Maui, was known for being a trickster god and wasn’t going to take Mauna stealing his fishhook lightly. So, he pursued Moana, until he was able to capture her. Maui, then brought Moana to shore, where she passed away. Maui, paid his respects to the mermaid goddess by burying her body and built a shrine in her honor. Moana’s spirit was metamorphosed into a oli’a lehua, which is one of Hawaii’s most sacred trees.

 

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Myths and Legends

The Mikladular Selkie Legend and Statue

The village of Mikladalur on the island of Faroe Island of Kalsoy, a territory of Denmark

On the Faroe Island of Kalsoy, a territory of Denmark, there is a small village, called Mikladalur. In Mikladalur, there is a legend about a young farmer who falls for a Kópakonan or selkie and how he tricks her to be his wife.

Legend has it, that a young farmer grew up listening to stories about the selkies, so he decided to wait for them to come to land, to see if the stories were true.

Every year, on the 13th night of the year, the selkies are permitted one night on land, where are permitted to go to land and have fun.

The young man watched in astonishment, as the selkies swam in a large group towards the rocks in a great magnitude. They shed their skin (sealskin/pelts) on the rocks, and they appeared to be normal human beings. The selkies frolicked and danced on the shore and the young farmer was mesmerized, by what he was seeing. The selkies, did in fact exist, and they were enchanting.

For a selkie, their sealskin or pelt, was what made them what they were. It was apart of them, as much as the ocean was. Steal or possess their skin and you possessed them.

One beautiful selkie, in particular, caught the young farmer’s attention, so he snuck up, and stole her sealskin.

Statue of Kópakonan or Selkie in Mikladalur, on the Faroe Island of Kalsoy was raised in August 2014

As the sun, began to rise, the selkies began to gather their sealskins and retreated back to the sea. That is, all for one. The selkie, whose skin was stolen by the young farmer, couldn’t find hers and she panicked, since she could smell it, but couldn’t find it. It was then, that the young farmer, came out from where he was hiding, holding her skin. She begged and pleaded for him to give her her sealskin back, but he refused and made her return to his farm with him.

He married the selkie and she had several children with him. To guarantee that the selkie would be his forever, he locked away her sealskin in a chest, so she couldn’t return to the sea. The chest was locked with a key, which he kept on him at all times, on his belt.

One day, the man forgot his key, when he went on a fishing trip with his friends. He was devastated, at the realization, that his selkie wife would return to the sea. He cried to his fellow fishermen, “Today my wife shall lose my wife!”-the man explained  the story to the men, and they took him back to shore. He was distraught to see that his children were abandoned and that his wife was gone.

Statue of Kópakonan or Selkie in Mikladalur, on the Faroe Island of Kalsoy was raised in August 2014

His wife went to the shore, with her sealskin and dove into the water. In the water, waiting for her, was a bull seal, who had waited many years for her return, for he had loved her very much.  The children, she had with the Mikladalur man, went to the shore and a seal prevented them from entering the water. It is believed that the seal who stopped them, was their mother.

Many years had passed, since the Mikladalur man had seen his selkie wife. He was planning to go with the other Mikladalur men on a seal hunting excursion in the caverns. One night, his selkie wife, came to him, in his dreams. She warned him, not to kill the large bull seal for he was her husband and not to kill two seal pups for they were her sons. She described their skins to the man, so he would know, what they looked like and know not to harm them. The man woke up, not taking the warnings in the dream seriously and went to the caverns with his friends to hunt seals. They killed the bull seal and the two seal pups and divided the bounty amongst themselves.

Statue of Kópakonan or Selkie in Mikladalur, on the Faroe Island of Kalsoy was raised in August 2014

That evening, as the man cooked head of the bull seal and the flippers of the seal pups over a large fire, the seal woman appeared in the form of a terrifying troll. She was mortified when she saw the head of her husband and limbs of her children. She yelled and cursed to the farmer in her grief, “Here lie the head of my husband with his broad nostrils, the hand of Hárek and the foot of Fredrik! Now there shall be revenge, revenge on the men of Mikladalur, and some will die at sea and others fall from the mountain tops, until there be as many dead as can link hands all round the shores of the isle of Kalsoy!”

Shortly after placing her petrifying curse, she vanished, and there was thunder. She was never seen again. The eerie part though, is that every once in a while, men of Mikladalur are drowned at sea or fall of the cliffs. It is unknown, if this is related to the curse of the selkie, but its an eerie coincidence to say the least.

In August 2014, a statue of Kópakonan or Selkie was raised in Mikladalur, on the Faroe Island of Kalsoy, in honor of the legend. The statue can withstand 13 meters of waves.

Remarkably, in 2015, there was a terrible storm and the statue was able to withstand a 11.5 meter wave. The statue remained firm and there was no damage whatsoever.

The statue of Kópakonan is as strong as the Kópakonan herself.

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Hans Christian Andersen Myths and Legends

The Myth of Ondine

Undine illustration by Arthur Rackham. The illustration is featured in Baro Friedrich De La Motte Fouque romance novella “Undine” that was published in 1811.

The myth of Ondine or Undine has been around for centuries, as far back as the Ancient Greece. Unda is Latin for “wave” or “water”.

The story of Ondine has been adapted and changed throughout the centuries, yet, astonishingly, key elements of the story has remained the same.

The story is of a young water nymph named Ondine who is beautiful and has an enchanting singing voice. Ondine is immortal, but doesn’t have a soul. The only way for Ondine to obtain one, is to marry a human, which would  then shorten her life, but she would gain a human soul.

Ondine falls in love with a human, and becomes human to be with him. If Ondine’s husband was to be unfaithful to her, he will die. She soon marries him, and bears him a mixed-breed child. Her child is born with a soul and has many aquatic attributes.

Ondine finds her husband with another woman and he soon dies.

This legendary story, would later inspire French author Baron Friedrich De La Motte Fouque and his novella of  Undine that was published in 1811. Years later, his version of the story,  would inspire the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen and his story, Den Lille Havfrue or The Little Mermaid and was published in 1837.

It’s truly incredible, that these mermaid myths and legends, never die. They adapt and change with the times. They are immortal and live on forever in our hearts and our minds.