But I did decide to find out more and I’ve always been fascinated by mermaids!
Melusine is a water fairy in European folklore – a feminine spirit of fresh waters in sacred springs and rivers. She is usually depicted as a serpent or fish from the waist down – a kind of mermaid.
Water fairies and mermaids are considered seductive and dangerous to humans, especially men!
There are many Melusine legends. The chronicler Giraud le Cambrien reported that Richard I of England was fond of claiming he was a descendant of a countess of Anjou who was supposed to be the fairy Melusine. Richard used to tell the tale and finish with a flourish, concluding that his whole family “came from the devil” and would return to the devil.
There are many mermaid stories around the world. The first known such stories appeared in Assyria around 1000 BC.
The goddess Atargatis, mother of Assyrian queen Semiramis, loved a mortal shepherd and unintentionally killed him. Ashamed, she jumped into a lake to take the form of a fish, but the waters would not conceal her divine beauty. Thereafter, she took the form of a mermaid—human above the waist, fish below!
A popular Greek legend turns Alexander the Great’s sister, Thessalonike, into a mermaid after she died. She lived, it was said, in the Aegean and when she encountered a ship, she asked its sailors only one question: “Is King Alexander alive?” to which the correct answer was: “He lives and reigns and conquers the world”. This answer pleased her so she would calm the waters and wish the ship farewell. Any other answer would spur her into a rage. She would raise a terrible storm, with certain doom for the ship and every sailor on board.
In British folklore mermaids are considered unlucky! One tale tells of the Laird of Lorntie who went to aid a woman he thought drowning in a lake near his house. A servant pulled him back, warning that it was a mermaid. The mermaid screamed that she would have killed him if it were not for his servant.
So take care!
Although a mermaid has been very lucky for Disney and it is interesting that the female figure in the Starbucks logo has been likened to Melusine.