Myths and Folklore: Mermaids, Selkies, Merrows and Co.

"... spirits of the water invoke longing and wonder. Glimmering beneath the moon, their mistress, they serve tides, currents and the gods of the sea, Lir, Mananan and Poseidon."
                                                                                                           Danu Forest, Nature Spirits

As a mermaid we understand an aquatic creature with human head, arms, and torso and fish tail. They are represented in folklore of many countries.

A Mermaid by John William Waterhouse.

From Greek mythology we know Nymphs. There are many types of them; there are celestial nymphs, wood and plant nymphs, underworld nymphs, and of course the water nymphs. To the group of water nymphs belong Nereids (the sea nymphs), Naiads (fresh water nymphs), and Oceanids (ocean nymphs).

A Naiad by John William Waterhouse.
There are also Sirens, best known from Homer's  epic poem Odyssey. Sirens lurk sailors with their beautiful singing, but when the sailors give in they end up dead.

In Ireland there are Merrows. It's said that they don't have a tail. They look very much like humans, but their feet are flatter and they have a thin webbing between the fingers.
In Scotland there are stories about Selkies, the seal people.

Damh the Bard - Selkie


Nature Spirits (Wooden Books Gift Book) by Danu Forest

A Field Guide to Irish Fairies by Bob Curran

What is your best defense against a phosphorescent land sheerie? Can you really find contentment with a wealthy merrow wife? The answers are disclosed at last in A Field Guide to Irish Fairies, the first and only such guide available. Expertly researched and compiled by an authority on the subject, with detailed illustrations to help wayfarers identify the 13 major varieties of these elusive fairy folk of the Emerald Isle, this pocket-size volume is indispensible both in the field and back in the (relative) safety of hearth and home. With information on habitat, history, and fairy customs at their fingertips, readers will be well prepared for encounters with saucy leprechauns, kindly grogochs, and even headless dullahans. A word to the wise: Take it along, or take your chances!

The Odyssey by Homer

It recounts the story of Odysseus' return to Ithaca from the Trojan war and tells how, championed by Athene and hounded by the wrathful sea-god Poseidon, Odysseus encounters the ferocious Cyclops, escapes Scylla and Charybdis and yields temporarily to the lures of Circe and Calypso before he overcomes the trials awaiting him on Ithaca. Only then is he reunited with his faithful wife Penelope, his wanderings at an end.

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

For love of a handsome prince, the youngest mermaid makes a bargain with the evil sea-witch and endures great suffering in order to become human.

Goddess of the Sea (Goddess Summoning, #1) by P.C. Cast

On the night of her twenty-fifth birthday, alone in her apartment, Air Force Sergeant Christine Canady wished for one thing: a little magic in her life. After drinking way too much champagne, she performed, of all crazy things, a goddess-summoning ritual, hoping that it would somehow make her life a little less ordinary...but she never believed the spell would actually work.

When her military plane crashes into the ocean, CC's mission overseas takes an unexpected turn. She awakens to find herself in a legendary time and place where magic rules the land—occupying the body of the mythic mermaid Undine. But there is danger in the waters and the goddess Gaea turns this modern, military gal into a beautiful damsel so that she can seek shelter on land.

CC is soon rescued (literally) by a knight in shining armor. She should he falling in love with this dream-come-true, but instead she aches for the sea and Dylan, the sexy merman who has stolen her heart.

The Lure of Shapinsay by Krista Holle

Ever since Kait Swanney could remember, the old crones of the village have been warning her to stay away from the selkies. They claim that like sirens of old, the seal men creep from the inky waters, shed their skins, and entice women to their deaths beneath the North Sea. But avoiding an encounter becomes impossible when Kait is spotted at the water’s edge, moments after the murder of a half-selkie infant.

Unexpectedly, Kait is awoken by a beautiful, selkie man seeking revenge. After she declares her innocence, the intruder darts into the night, but not before inadvertently bewitching her with an overpowering lure.

Kait obsesses over a reunion deep beneath the bay and risks her own life to be reunited with her selkie. But when she lands the dangerous lover, the chaos that follows leaves Kait little time to wonder—is it love setting her on fire or has she simply been lured?


Coffee Monster said...

I love these posts. I'm a big sucker for mythology. ^^

Petra said...

Thank you! You've got some amazing folk tales in Slovenia, too! :) Zlatorog and Pehtra Baba, these two I remember! :)

Coffee Monster said...

Yes, we have lots of folk tales, and they're not as romanticized or fairy tale-sih as some; more like hard life lessons of a working nation. :)

Great books suggestions, already on my to-read list.

Petra said...

That's what I like about folk tales or some European fairy-tales. They are slightly darker, tougher, more complex. :)

My pleasure! :)

Ella said...

Thank you so much for this post! I love greek mythology and nymphs are some of my favorite characters!

Petra said...

Greek mythology is amazing, isn't it? :)

Sarah Elizabeth said...

I haven't read anything about selkies before like the lure of shrapinski. I really liked reading about where ideas come from though :)

Fairday Morrow said...

I love this post! Mythology has been on my mind all week, as it is the theme on our blog this week. I think the pictures you selected are perfect! Also- you listed some books I have not read yet. Yeah! :)

Anonymous said...

Love this! I really want to read Goddess of the Sea. It looks good. :)

Suz said...

Thanks for this great info! Selkies, mermaids and water creatures fascinate me!

Suz Reads

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