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Are Mermaids Real? Mermaids Then and Now

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Are Mermaids Real? Mermaids Then and Now

A history of mermaids, our sea-dwelling kin.
Doreen Virtue
Doreen Virtue More by this author
Dec 01, 2013 at 09:00 AM

Are Mermaids Real?
Our planet is over
70 percent water, containing an estimated 332.5 million cubic miles of water. Given this volume, is it inconceivable to imagine that there are aquatic creatures beyond our comprehension? After all, as researchers dive deeper in the oceans, each year they discover new species of fish, shark, crab, and other sea dwellers.

Mermaids and mermen are one-half human and one-half fish. Their upper bodies look human from the torso to the head, while from the stomach down they sport fish scales, fins, and tails. They can breathe and see clearly underwater without diving equipment. Mermaids inhabit our oceans and lakes, and can be seen by those with open minds and hearts. Different varieties include:

Merangels: These mermaids and mermen have a celestial connection, and are compelled to help save the ocean and its inhabitants.

Merfairies: Mermaids and mermen who guard bodies of freshwater and their inhabitants, Merfairies are thinner and more petite than Merangels.

Selkies: These mermaids appear as seals while in the ocean and as female humans while on land. They're most commonly found in Scotland. In Ireland, they're called Roanes. Selkies help fishermen and sailors.

Undines: These sea sprites, derived from Greek figures known as Nereids, are tiny, light-colored, wingless beings who govern and live in water. You can see and hear them playing in the spray of the ocean. (Sirens, another category of creatures from Greek mythology that are often confused with mermaids, are human females with bird features, including talons instead of feet. They are infamous for singing irresistibly seductive songs to sailors, and then fatally luring them deep into the ocean.)

Do mermaids really exist, or are they products of sailors' delusions from too many days at sea? Legends say that mariners, lonely for female companionship, mistook manatees and dolphins for mermaids. I believe that mermaids, unicorns, fairies, and other so-called mythical animals once lived as physical beings on Earth. After all, these creatures are represented in countless paintings, carvings, and writings around the world since ancient times. They were either hunted into extinction, or they elected to move to a higher-vibrational frequency (nonphysical) that only pure-hearted believers can access.

The word mermaid comes from the Old English word mere, which means sea or lake, and maid, which means girl or woman. Mermaids are an internationally recognized archetype, called by many names:

  • Deniz in Turkey
  • Havfrue in Denmark
  • Iara in Brazil
  • Meerfrau and Wassernixe in Germany
  • Merrow, muirruhgach, or selkie in Ireland and Scotland
  • Merrymaid in Cornwall
  • Oceanid, Nereid, and Naiad in Greece
  • Rusalka in Slavic countries
  • Sirena in Italy, Spain, and the Philippines
  • Sirene in France
  • Sjoujungfru in Sweden

A search of world language dictionaries shows interesting meanings of the root mer and its derivatives mar, mara, and mir. The words for mother and sea are related in French (mere and mer), German (Mutter and Meer), Italian (madre and mare), and Spanish (madre and mar). The linguistic link between sea and mother seems to be one more reference to our ancient roots to the ocean.

Mermaids and Unicorns in Ancient Times

You may be wondering, Are mermaids as real as angels and fairies? I hope you'll draw your own conclusions. Although mermaids are considered beautiful fantasy images, you may decide that they're something more. Perhaps, like unicorns, mermaids once physically existed upon this earth but became extinct or ascended to the nonphysical level to escape painful exploitation. Could this be why so many ancient paintings depict both unicorns and mermaids?

Like me, you may be naturally drawn to paintings and stories about mermaids, and find pleasure in looking at their images. Mermaids, after all, represent powerful and independent beings who live adventurous nature-based lives. Perhaps this is why this archetype intrigues men and women alike.

Pictures of Mermaids in Our Culture

While mermen occasionally appear in art and the media, merfolk generally are female. They're related to water goddesses, which include the Blessed Mother Mary, the Hindu deity Lakshmi, the Buddhist bodhisattva Quan Yin, the Inuit deity Sedna, and the African and Brazilian goddess Yemanja.

Images of mermaids date back to ancient Babylonian times. Cultural references to fish gods and goddesses hold clues to the mysteries of Atlantis and our connection to Sirius and other star systems.

Hans Christian Andersen's iconic fairy tale The Little Mermaid has been reworked and popularized by Disney's cartoon and amusement-park ride of the same name. Our modern world continues to pay homage to mermaids in movies (for example, Splash, Aquamarine, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides); television programs (H2O: Just Add Water from Australia, for instance); and in business logos (most notably, Starbucks Coffee Company).

A Special Mermaid Video 

One thing's for sure: the image of mermaids is embedded within our culture, lending a magical tone and harking back to ancient times. To see me with my mermaid tail under water, watch this mermaid video. To learn more about Mermaids, read my book, Mermaids 101 - Exploring the Magical Underwater World of the Merpeople.


About Author
Doreen Virtue
Doreen Virtue Doreen Virtue graduated from Chapman University with two degrees in counseling psychology. A former psychotherapist, Doreen now gives online workshops on topics rela Continue reading