Starbucks is the largest coffee chain in the world, and it’s synonymous for it’s addicting coffee and siren logo.
It’s not a coincidence that since Starbucks was founded in a port city, that it’s logo and name would be inspired by the sea.
Starbucks got it’s name from Starbuck, a character in Herman Melville Moby Dick. The company’s founders added the “s” at the end, so the name could be more conversational and easier to remember.
Starbucks sultry, bare breasted, two-tailed logo was risqué when it opened it’s doors in Seattle, Washington in 1971. It’s founder’s found a Nordic 15th century woodcut of a bare breasted, twin-tailed siren and they thought she was perfect! The mermaid exemplified the seductive and alluring nature of the sea.
It has also been speculated that Starbucks Siren could’ve also been inspired by a very famous medieval two-tailed mermaid…Melusine.
The medieval siren, holding up her twin-tails revealing her genitalia signifies the power of femininity and fertility.
As the years progressed, the Starbucks logo became less risqué and more refined. Overtime, the designers decided to cover the siren’s bare breasts with her long, luscious hair, another notable feature of a siren. Sirens were known to comb their luscious locks of hair to lure sailors to their untimely death.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.