Of all the magical creatures of the world, none are as enchanting and captivating as the mysterious mermaid.
With the torso of a woman and the tail of a fish, the mermaid is the queen of the oceans and rivers. Always seen as young and beautiful, the mermaid has charmed more than her share of sailors and nautical travelers.
Though known to be beautiful, in some European folklore, seeing a mermaid was actually a sign of a coming misfortune, or bad omen. However, when rescued, the mermaid is said to impart wisdom and healing powers upon her rescuer. She has even been known to warn seafarers of coming storms, but only when she is shown kindness, otherwise you’re on your own!
In folklore from Ireland, the mermaid is known as a Merrow, and can shapeshift from mermaid to human form by using a magical red feathered cap. If the cap is lost or stolen, the merrow must remain forever in human form, never to return to their underwater world. The females are beautiful, however the males are hideously ugly (they have green skin, teeth and hair!). This probably accounts for why so many of the females choose to take human form and marry human men!
In the folklore of Wales, the merman, Morgan, lives in the lakes keeping watch for wandering children (which he likes to abduct!). Most likely, tales of Morgan the Merman were used to frighten children to keep them from wandering unattended around dangerous waters.
In ancient folklore from Greece and Rome are the equally famous sirens, which are frequently depicted as mermaids, and known to lure sailors to their death with their beautiful singing. However the siren was originally half woman and half bird and not a sea creature at all! The famous poet, Homer, wrote of them in his story of Odysseus (who was the only man to ever hear the song of the Siren and live to tell about it).
Loreley, the lovely siren born from the story of “Lore Lay” by Klemens Bretano over 200 years ago, resides in the River Rhine in Germany. Though a more recent legend, she has all the power and beauty of her more ancient sisters, and as is the tradition of the siren, Loreley’s singing is also known to lure sailors to their death.
Both mesmerizing and miraculous, the mermaid would no doubt stun anyone who happened to be so lucky as to catch a glimpse of her today. And there are those few who claim to have seen a mermaid, but rather than being a bad omen, they were bringers of hope that help to instill a belief in a magical world.