Mermaids — Common Threads Of Mythologies & Folk-Stories From Around The World (Melusine, Merrow, Rusalkas, & Finfolk Of The Orkneys)
November 24, 2016 in Stories
The word mermaid originates with the Old English compound of mere (meaning “sea”) and maid (meaning unmarried “girl/woman”). Older stories sometimes used the term merewif. In many of the stories of the region (British Isles), such “mermaids” were depicted similarly to the sirens of Greek stories such as the Odyssey — beautiful women with enchanting voices, who tried to lure sailors to shipwreck and stranding on the islands that they inhabited. That certainly paints a different picture than the pop culture image of a mermaid doesn’t it?
There are some early depictions of mermaids though that aren’t vastly different in nature than modern ones, but there are also some that hold nothing in common with modern depictions as well. The culture that the associated stories spring from predictably seems to have a lot to do with the nature of the “mermaids” in question. For instance, the Slavic corollary, Rusalkas, are usually depicted as being the restless spirits of young women who died violent, or untimely deaths. These Rusalkas inhabit the rivers, streams, and lakes, of the region, and attempt to lure young men to their drowning — presumably as resolution for their own violent or untimely deaths.