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Mermaid Legends And Myths

Updated on May 9, 2014

The Mermaid

The little mermaid by Kama Art
The little mermaid by Kama Art

Mermaid Legends And Myths

Mermaid legends include everything from poetry and myths to folk tales of ancient and modern times. Through the years, different countries have created mermaids to have their own unique stories and characteristics. She can be anything from strong-willed and confident to meek and docile.

A mermaid is an aquatic, mythological creature with the top of her body being female and the bottom half being the tail of a fish. Similar to sirens, mermaids would often sing to gods and people to enchant them which distracted them from their work and often caused them to run their ships into something or to fall off the deck into the water.

Stories of the mermaid range from sweet and innocent to more adult-like legends, which included sex that were created to amuse the older people of society. Sometimes even horrific things happen to them and it is important to understand that once upon a time, there were those that truly believed in the existence of mermaids.

Mermaid and Merman

The European Mermaid Story

The most common mermaid stories suggest that a beautiful mermaid falls in love with a human man who may decide to reject or accept her. If he happens to accept her, there is a good chance that she will pull him underwater and he will drown. She doesn't do this out of malice but rather because she simply forgets that he is mortal and cannot live in the water.

However, if the man rejects her then she sweetly stalks him, bringing him gifts of pearls and coral until one day, she eagerly throws her arms around him and he panics thinking she is trying to drag him into the water so he struggles and runs away from her. She is so angry that she throws a tiny stone at him and she jumps into the water to never be seen again. The young man felt so much pain from this tiny stone that he tried to cry for a week yet no sound would come out and he finally died. This story was a lesson to never get involved with a mermaid.

A Mermaid Story

Beached Mermaid Fin by dashinvaine
Beached Mermaid Fin by dashinvaine

Mermaid Kariel

The Kind Mermaid

Occasionally, a kind mermaid will offer sound advice to a human. Once there was a man who lived in Galloway who could cure diseases and it was believed that his knowledge came from a mermaid. There was a beautiful young girl named May, who was very ill with consumption so this Galloway herbalist tried to cure her and became very sad when his methods did not work because he was very much in love with May and wanted to marry her.

One evening he sat along the shore in sorrow when a mermaid rose out of the water and made mention of May dying and mugwort flowering all in one sentence. Mugwort is a flowering aromatic plant so the herbalist took this as a sign. After the mermaid vanished, he went and gathered these flowers to create a medicine that he gave to May and she was healed.

The Celtic Mermaid

There was an old Celtic man from Cury that was walking beside the shore when he encountered a mermaid. She did not hear the old man approach and she was sitting on a rock fixing her hair. The tide had moved outward but it left behind a puddle of water to act as her mirror. When the man spoke she slid off the rock and into the puddle, terrified, she tried to avoid the man but since the tide was gone she was stranded in her puddle.

The man tried to be kind and make conversation but the mermaid begged him to leave. The mermaid explained that her husband was out with her children and would be angry and eat them if he got home and she wasn't there with dinner so she told the old man that she would grant him three wishes if he would carry her to the water.

The old mad did not wish for gold or riches but rather for power to help others and break the spells of witches. The Celtic mermaid agreed so the man carried her back to the seas where she gave him her comb. She told him to come back to the rock in a few days and comb the water and she would return. She blew him a kiss goodbye and dove into the water. A few days later, the man did as she instructed and she came and taught him magical arts. He learned to find stolen goods, break spells and cure diseases. He passed these secrets down to his children along with the mermaid's comb that continues to be passed down today.

About Mermaid Tales and Tails

Mermaid Swimming By MermaidMelissa
Mermaid Swimming By MermaidMelissa

African Myths

African myths include many dangerous mermaid encounters. One tale tells of a small boy who was bathing at a local river when a horrific storm blew through and washed him away to sea. A mermaid found him there and took him to her home in the depths of the ocean.

She asked the boy if he ate fish, beef or pork and he replied “no” to all three. The story says that if he would have answered “yes” to even one then she would have killed him since her body was made of all three. Since he was worthy of living, she took him back to the surface and released him on the shore where a shepherd found him and took him home. This was a lesson that if you encounter a mermaid, to never admit to eating meat of any type.


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    • JLaszlo profile image

      JLaszlo 5 years ago from Northwest

      JKenny Thank you. I have read that as well and am looking to add more ot this hub as I have had some friends read it as well and tell me they wanted more.

      mwilliams66 I am glad you enjoyed reading it. You might check out some of my other hubs. Chinese Dragons is popular this year:

    • mwilliams66 profile image

      mwilliams66 5 years ago from Left Coast, USA

      Very interesting hub. I really enjoyed reading it.

      Voted up

    • JKenny profile image

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Interesting. I remember reading somewhere that the Mermaid originated from delirious sailors mistaking manatees and seals for human women. Great hub. Voted up.