It’s should be no surprise to you that I am a huge mermaid/sea myth fan, with the blog being called Freckled Mermaids all. So it should be no surprise that I am writing a post about the other folk of the sea.
Mermaids are probably the most popular of the mythical beings of the sea and are the most commonly used in stories. But I think it’s high tide (get it?) that we take a look at some of the other ocean dwellers.
Mermen: They’re basically male mermaids. They tend to be uglier and not as interested in humans as their lady counterparts are. Although some modern YA books make sure their mermen are hot stuff, so ugliness is optional.
Sirens: More popular than the others, but not as well known as mermaids, this seductive mermaid-like creature wasn’t always fishy. The whole myth of Sirens originated from Greek mythology. They were bird like women who would sit on rocks by the sea and sing, luring sailors to their death. Nowadays they still hold the power of voice, but are pretty much mermaids.
Selkies: A Scottish/Irish creature who is a human that lives in a seal skin in the sea. These creatures can shed their skin to come on land. Legend says if you’re able to find the selkie’s skin and hide it, it will be unable to go back to the sea. This is typically done more to the female selkies, since they’re said to make good wives. Something with longing for their home/sea makes them better then land women somehow. Not sure how that works.
Male selkies are described as being very handsome in their human form.
They’re kind of like sea werewolves who don’t kill anyone and transform into to cute seals.
Melusine: Similar to a mermaid, but is a woman with either two fish tails or the body of a serpent. The most famous tale about the Melusine is Le livre de Mélusine by Jean d’Arras. In the story, Pressyne, a fey who marries a king on the one condition: he can never walk in on her bathing or her bathing her children. One day the king broke his promise, so Pressyne left and took her three daughters, Melusine, Melior, and Palatyne, to Avalon.
When Melusine learned what her father had done, she and her two sisters sought revenge. They caught him and locked him, with his riches, in a mountain. When Pressyne learned this, she was enraged and commanded Melusine to take the form of a serpent from the waist down every Saturday. In some versions of the story, it’s a two fish tails. Starbucks anyone?
I can just picture the test messages Melusine would be sending to her friends:
Rusalkas: They are nymph like creatures that are the souls of women who died in a violent way, either in or nearby water (mostly lakes). They are described as beautiful women who lure men to the water, where they drown them (those rascally rusalkas! Aren’t they just charming?)
They also enjoy dancing in moon light. Also, a rusalka can undo her fate by avenging her death.
Mami Wata: An African spirit or goddess, Mami Wata (Mother Water) is often said to be a mermaid and a snake charmer and can take a human form. She is described as beautiful, with long dark hair, wearing coiled snakes around her wrists, new clothing and jewelry. Due to her appearance, she is a sign of wealth and beauty.
Since she has goddess status, Mami Wata is said to control the ocean and is a very dangerous being-the “I CAN DESTROY EVERYTHING SUCKERS” kind. Because of this, she ends up getting a lot of the blame for the misfortunes that happen in the sea (Loki knows the feeling).
Mami watas and papi watas are the plurals of her and they comprise the vast and uncountable African water spirits.
Shorten Version of Mami Wata:
Long story short if it’s in the water, it’s probably deadly, magical, dangerous, and beautiful…Unless you’re a merman. Then you ugly.