Daphne’s a typical mermaid, and at least according to her, that’s a problem.
Welcome to the September 13th stop on the blog tour for The Mermaid and the Unicorns by L.T. Getty with Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, author guest posts, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Author Guest Post
Mermaids: From Undine to Cultural Icons
The term undine first appeared from the alchemical writings of Paracelsus. Paracelsus wrote of breaking all of nature into four elements, and with them an associated spirit. For Fire, Salamanders; for Earth, Gnomes; for Air, Sylphs; and finally Water, Undine. In the group of undine there were distinct species: Nereides, Limaids, Naiades, Potamides, and mermaids. The variety of the above were associated with different bodies of water, be they rivers or fountains and generally we can associate them simply as a variation of a traditional Greek Nymph.
Mermaids are often lumped in with other creatures associated with the sea, as well as storms and drowning. For instance, I would draw a distinction between a mermaid and a siren, with the latter often depicted with bird-like attributes by the Greek tradition, however it is not uncommon for the terms to be used interchangeably. Sirens were noted to lure men with their beautiful songs, and the voices of mermaids were also said to be very enchanting.
When you consider how little of the ocean was understood, even when we were able to chart and travel the waters by ship, it’s understandable that so much lore and myth are attributed to terrible monsters, as well as other, more fanciful creatures. Humans require fresh water to survive, and we can survive quite comfortably from the bounty of the sea, but growing up on the prairies didn’t prepare me for the majesty and might of the tides when I was finally able to start traveling and see the raw power of currents as well as ocean swells. Stories of monsters that haunt relatively calm bodies of water exist throughout many cultures, so it’s understandable how something as vast and deep as the sea would lead to a sense of not only fear, but curiosity as to what lies beneath.
It was said that Columbus and other travelers saw mermaids when they made the voyage over to North America, and today, most scholars attribute those sightings to either sea manatees or seals. Selkies, unlike mermaids, are usually Irish or even Scottish mythical beings. Often appearing in the form of a seal, they can take off their coat and transform to the shape of a human woman. This occurs in other traditions with other animals as well, such as the Swan Maiden in Norse Mythology.
Legend has it that if a fisherman were to sneak up on a selkie in her human form and steal her skin, he could force her to be his wife. Typically, years later her child would find where the coat was hidden, and then the selkie would take it, often abandoning her human husband and children and return to the sea, never to return again.
Today, Mermaids aren’t quite everywhere, but they are very popular staples of fantasy fiction and art. They appear in movies and even the mascot and appearing on the logo of a very popular coffee company. We cannot agree with what they look like, or even if they are only found in the sea. Ojibwe writings on the Nibiinaabe suggest that they lived in the variety of freshwater lakes in Manitoba, my home province, and stories exist of them traveling to freshwater throughout the world.
Perhaps the most famous story is Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid, and I’ll sum up the less PG version as opposed to the more popular Disney one in the following paragraph.
Mermaids were given 300 years to live beneath the sea, but no soul, and were to become sea foam at the end of their lives and cease to exist. Several mermaid princesses were told to go to the surface on their fifteenth birthday, and see the wonders of the land, in which the title character, on her birthday, falls in love with and later rescues a human prince from drowning, and leaves him on the beach. The Little Mermaid finds out that she could share a soul with a human and gain eternity that way, and so exchanges her tongue for human legs, and is told she must win the heart of the prince or die. Each step on land is torture, but she learns to dance and almost wins him, but the prince fell in love with the woman he thought saved his life, and so, the mermaid resigns herself to a broken heart and death, unable to tell him the truth. Her sisters arrive after the wedding, their long hair shorn and handing the mermaid a knife. They struck a deal with the sea witch, in which if she murders the prince and his bride, she’ll get her fins back and return to the sea. The mermaid refuses, and at dawn throws the dagger and herself into the sea. Instead of ceasing to exist, her spirit joined the air sylphs, and had a chance to earn a soul after 300 years of good deeds.
I could go on but I’m sure to miss some of your favourites. What are some of your favourite stories that feature mermaids, old or new? Are you annoyed when people lump similar mythological figures together? Want to talk about the more recent trend of dressing up and performing as a mermaid? Swimming like that can’t be easy. Leave a comment below.
About the Book
The Mermaid and the Unicorns
by L.T. Getty
Published 31 August 2022
Black Unicorn Books
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Adventure
Page Count: 230
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Daphne’s a typical mermaid, and at least according to her, that’s a problem. She’s courageous and has a beautiful singing voice, but lacks the power of an elemental, the ability to command water with the sound of her voice. Jealous of her best friend, she makes a deal with a sea-witch, only to be betrayed, in place of her beautiful tail and flukes Daphne’s left beached with a pair of human legs. The spell keeping Daphne looking human will become permanent, unless Daphne can hunt down and bring the scheming Lorelei a unicorn horn before the next full moon.
Unable to reach her friends and family for help, Daphne doesn’t know how to walk, much less where to find a unicorn or how to catch one. Even if she’s successful, Daphne’s still not sure if she can trust Lorelei and her pint-sized kraken to keep their end of the bargain and let her return to the sea.
“What’s wrong?”Esperanza asked as Daphne went to retrieve the arrow.
“Nothing,” Daphne said, unstringing the bow. “Not like I’m ever going need to use this skill. Let’s just pack up and go.”
“What are you talking about?” Esperanza asked. “You’re already better than I am. Here, let me have a try and I’ll show you.”
“I’ve already unstrung it,” Daphne snapped.
“Fine,” Esperanza said, matching Daphne’s tone. Esperanza went to go get more water from the river with the large buckets to boil so that they could wash their dishes.
“I’ll do that. Water’s heavy,” Sean said, ignoring Daphne as she struggled to take their tent down.
“Here, let me help you,” Esperanza said to Daphne once Sean started towards the river.
“Sure—let’s send the person with the tallest reach to the river, great plan,” Daphne muttered, climbing onto the wagon to reach the tip of the tent as Sean descended towards the river.
“What’s your problem?” Esperanza demanded as soon as Sean was out of earshot. “We’re helping you get to Taralee. Sean didn’t have to come all this way, you know.”
“He didn’t come for me, Espy. If it was just me who wanted to go, he wouldn’t care that I had to walk the whole way. What do you want, me to kiss your feet and sing your praises? Wait, I forgot—you’re the better singer, you should sing your own praises. I might not do it good enough without a four-stringed harp and a cat to squeeze for background noise.”
“Our voices are different. Neither one is really better than the other.”
“It’s just… do you know what it’s like to be overlooked?”
“All the time,” Esperanza said. She looked away, towards the river. “Hey, wait… be quiet for a minute.”
“Don’t you tell me what to do—” Daphne became mildly insulted when Esperanza put a hand over her mouth.
They heard singing. A beautiful, high pitched and soft melody, barely audible above the breeze. The sound had a haunting quality. “Doesn’t sound like it’s Sean’s range,” Daphne muttered, but then really heard it. She ran, and got the arrow and the quiver as well as Sean’s knife and axe. She quickly strung the bow before heading towards the river bank.
“What are you doing?” Esperanza asked, following after Daphne.
“Stay with the wagon!” Daphne ordered.
About the Author
L.T. Getty is a rural paramedic from Manitoba. She enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy and generally being creative.
L.T. Getty will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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