In a previous post I introduced you to my friend Little Woo and her Follow Your Fetish series. Like me she really likes mermaids. You can read about her Mermaid Grotto here. Unlike me she actually took the effort to be like one. Read about it in her Mermaid In Training post. Me? I will just sit upon the shore and watch.
I first became interested in mermaids when I lived in Wiesbaden, Germany in the early to late ’90s. Sure I had been exposed to mermaids in fairy tales such at Peter Pan and children’s books and such but it was Lorelei just up the road that got me to thinking. The Lorelei is a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine River near St. Goarshausen, Germany. It marks the narrowest part of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea. A very strong current and rocks below the waterline have caused many boat accidents there.
In 1801, German author Clemens Brentano composed his ballad Zu Bacharach am Rheine which told the story of an enchanting female associated with the rock. In the poem, the beautiful Lore Lay, betrayed by her sweetheart, is accused of bewitching men and causing their death. Rather than sentence her to death, the bishop consigns her to a nunnery. On the way there, accompanied by three knights, she comes to the Lorelei rock. She asks permission to climb it and view the Rhine one final time. She does so and falls to her death. In 1824, Heinrich Heine wrote one of his most famous poems, Die Lorelei. It describes Lore Lay as a sort of siren who, sitting on the cliff above the Rhine and combing her golden hair, unwittingly distracted shipmen with her beauty and song, causing them to crash on the rocks.
The fact is strong currents and rocks below the waterline have caused many boat accidents there. A small waterfall in the area created a murmuring sound, and this combined with the special echo the rock produces to act as a sort of amplifier but all the sailors, being superstitious, attributed the misfortunes in the area to the cries of the ghost of Lore Lay.
Lore Lay is not a mermaid of course. She is more a siren. Today there is not much of a difference. These days both are generally a beautiful woman from the waist up and a fish from the waist down and are noted for their enchanting singing voices. The siren was known for her singing voice and supposedly of such beauty that sailors would forget their duties and simply stop to listen. Their ships would often crash on the rocks in the process. But the sirens were never half-woman and half-fish creatures. That form was originally of the mermaids.
The first known mermaid story appeared in Assyria caround 1000 BC. The goddess known as Atargatis, mother of Assyrian queen Semiramis, loved a mortal who worked as a shepherd. She unintentionally killed him. Ashamed, she jumped into a lake and took the form of a fish, but the waters would not conceal her divine beauty so she took the form of a mermaid — human above the waist and fish below.
Over the years many have claimed to see mermaids. Even Christopher Columbus said he saw one. (It was probably a manatee.) In the 19th century, P. T. Barnum displayed a taxidermal hoax called the Fiji mermaid in his museum which Brenna and I later saw in San Francisco.
Even though most would like to say mermaids are not real, I am pretty sure they are. After all I see them at Silverton Casino all the time swimming about in the aquarium there and occasionally she will blow me a kiss.
…and that always makes me smile.
Have you ever seen a mermaid? Share your thoughts in the comments. Would love to hear from you.
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