Mermaids have always captured my imaginations. Mermaid books, videos, songs, folk tales and poems are things I grew up with. My fascination for mermaids can partly be attributed to my seeking the unknown, the mystical, and partly to my love for mythology. And there is something about these sea sirens that makes me feel connected even at this age.
With their home and life under water, these mythological sea sirens, appear as beautiful women from the waist up with their lower body being that of a fish. According to myths, Mermaids are supposed to have magical powers. One of those powers is their ability to sing beautifully. Most mermaid legends suggest that these sirens would serenade sailors and enchant them, thereby distracting the sailors from their work and sometimes causing shipwrecks. In other stories, mermaids save the life out of drowning men and also take men down to their underwater kingdoms and teach them to live in the sea. These legends are common and run in all cultures across the world.
In Hans Andersen’s tales, Mermaids are portrayed as lonesome creatures, who lure men sweetly, yet bring only death and destructions in the end. The Sirens of Greek mythology are sometimes portrayed in folklore as creatures related types of mythical or legendary creature like water fairies or water nymphs. What fascinates me is that these legendary creatures have been enduring symbols in myth and culture for thousands of years and still continue to have a very visible role in contemporary society. They are often a part of movies, ads and our culture in general, leave alone our dreams and fantasies.
As I was reading a marine life journal the other day, a piece on New York’s Coney Island Sea Creature Parade caught my eyes. The event occurs on the first Saturday after the summer solstice around the third week of June, where hundreds of these sea nymphs, mermen along with thousands of spectators descend upon Coney Island, to celebrate the beginning of summer and the official opening of the Atlantic Ocean. What is this powerful attraction that is so compelling that five hundred thousand people turn out for this Parade? Perhaps the answer lies hidden somewhere.
I continue to believe mermaids exist somewhere in the twilight place between land and sea. They are alluring, yet live in harmony with their aquatic environment, and I will continue my never-ending search for mermaids in the hope of seeing them some day!