MERMAIDS, Mermen, Nymphs, Valkyries.
Amphibious beings human to the waist and a fish tail for legs, surrounded by numerous myths and legends. Sirens bearing wings and eagles legs with either beautiful singing or screeching voices are the enchantresses of the water calling sailors to a watery grave. They have a tasting for human flesh. Sightings have emerged throughout the centuries from the 1800s through to the Victorian era. One poignant one stands out and is based on real events. The story encapsulates a mermaid, a choir boy and one of Cornwall’s more beautiful but disquieting villages in Zennor. The late 1400’s tells of a mysterious lady drawn to the nearby church to listen to the voice of a local man named Mathew Trewhella. A young girl seemed enchanted and was seen swimming up the stream from Pendour cove down below to the nearby church. There she would silently sit and listen to him singing. One night Mathew disappeared without trace.
Many years later Off Zennor cove a boat had dropped anchor to the annoyance of a woman in the water who complained it was blocking the entrance to her home. She said her husband Mathew would worry. The mesmerised sailors willingly obliged, removing the anchor and watched as the flip of her fish tail dived down into the water.
Scottish mermaids are known as Selkies because they leave their seal tail skins hidden on the sea shore to walk in their human form. Sirens were originally water nymphs, daughters of the river god Achelous and related to the Queen of the Underworld Persephone. The nymphs were thought to have challenged the Muses and their singing abilities. In their failure they were exiled to the Isle of Capri, where they avenged themselves on passing ships.
Their undertakings infamously failed in the writings of Homer. Odysseus was warned by the witch Circe to guard against the power of the Sirens. To block out their singing he ordered his men to insert beeswax into their ears. He secured himself to the mast to evade their seduction and lead his crew to safety.
Valkyries magnificent helmeted Nordic maidens of blonde plaited hair and steely ocean eyes rode the tide upon beautiful white horses. They became known as “The Choosers of the Slain”. Sirens sent forth from Valhalla for battle on Odin’s orders.