There is a real mystery about the mythology of mermaids. No self-respecting zoologist would ever contemplate the possibility of a creature with the upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish.
Yet mermaids have been reported all over the world for the last few thousand years.
There are mermaid myths and sightings from America, Asia, Africa and Europe. Very few cultures living on the coast do not have mermaid stories.
The mermaid myth goes right back to ancient Greece and to the Middle East where archaeologists have found bronze mouldings of mermaids that are 3,000 years old. (As shown above). Mermaid sightings have continued right up to the 20th century, so what are the origins of this myth?
Because of the large number of mermaid sightings, commentators are unable to dismiss mermaid stories as simply the work of people’s over active imagination. So the official explanation is that people have seen a manatee or dugong and mistake them for mermaids. The trouble is that dugongs and manatees look nothing like a woman with a fish’s tail! A sailor would have to be extremely drunk, or very stupid, to mistake one of these creatures for a half woman and half fish. Yet people are driven to accept this explanation, simply because there is no real alternative. If mermaids are neither manatees nor dugongs, then for what other reason do we have mermaid sightings and myths?
[Photograph of a Manatee or Sea-Cow from web-site. –Manatee
When people think of mermaids, they class them as mythical beasts like dragons and unicorns. At one time it was believed that mythology simply came from the active imagination of people from the past, and no other explanation was needed. But as people have looked more closely at these myths they find they come from real events. If we take the story of the unicorn, it turns out that this was once a name for the rhinoceros, as explained in the following description by Marco Polo.
scarcely smaller than elephants. They have the hair of a buffalo and feet like an elephant’s. They have a single large black horn in the middle of the forehead… They have a head like a wild boar’s…They spend their time by preference wallowing in mud and slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at. They are not at all such as we describe them when we relate that they let themselves be captured by virgins, but clean contrary to our notions.
(The reference to virgins was because it was once believed that only a virgin could capture and tame unicorns.)
The Romans were very familiar with rhinos because they used them in their Roman games at the Coliseum. Then Africa became cut off from Europe with the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Ottoman Empire. With Europeans being no longer able to travel to central Africa, knowledge about the rhinoceros became hazy. Eventually the only thing that Europeans knew about it was a description that it was a horse like creature with a horn in the middle of its forehead. Artists in Europe, who had never seen a rhinoceros, drew it exactly like this, not knowing that it had a far heavier build than any horse. Then because of its unusual appearance as depicted by the artists, it became a popular mythological and magical creature.
This myth was made more confusing in the Middle Ages, when whalers began to hunt for Narwhals. These are medium size whales about 5m long. The males have a long spiral tusk growing out of their forehead. These horns were so unusual that con men began to sell them as unicorn horns. This is why in many pictures of unicorns they have spiral horns. It seems these con men, in order to make these horns “a must have item”, they claimed that unicorn horns were a protection against poisoning. It seems they completely fooled the aristocratic class, because it became fashionable to put parts of these horns in their drinks, thinking they were magical unicorn horns that would nullify the effects of any poison. Pharmacies at the time called these horns alicorn and they were widely used up until the mid 18th century in medicines.
This myth making changed the perception of the unicorn so much, that when Europeans moved back to Africa, sailing there by ship and seeing rhinos, they no longer recognised them as unicorns and renamed them.
The same is true for the dragon. Again it was once considered to be a purely mythical beast until Europeans visited the small Indonesia island of Komodo and discovered Komodo dragons. These are giant monitor lizards that reach a length of 3M. The bones of even larger monitor lizards have been found in Australia. This was the megalania that was 6M long and probably weighed about two tons. Scientists have theorised that it became extinct soon after humans came to Australia and suggested it was humans that caused this. This is because a giant monitor lizard will attack anything it thinks it can eat, and this would include humans. Therefore, they speculated, humans wiped them out in self-defence.
During the last ice age, ocean levels were far lower than today and most of the Indonesian islands were simply one large landmass that was joined to Asia. This does suggest that giant monitor lizards may once have existed throughout Indonesia, perhaps even China itself, where the stories of dragons became very popular. Komodo Island would have been part of this large landmass. If such a creature existed it would more likely be the size of a megalania because large animals that are trapped on islands, because of rising ocean levels, tend to get smaller in size over many generations. This is simply because there is a limitation on the food they can eat, on an island. The same thing probably happened to the Komodo dragon, they got smaller to accommodate the food available.
It seems that even though these creatures are very powerful carnivores they did have a weakness that humans could exploit. Being cold-blooded creatures, they are very sluggish during cold evenings. It would be very easy for humans to kill them by attacking them at night. Humans likely wiped out these giant lizards throughout any area they settled in, to protect themselves from attack. This means that through the activities of humans they became extinct, except in the remote island of Komodo.
During the last ice age it was possible to travel all the way from Indonesia to Europe by land. Therefore, it is possible that Komodo dragons may have once lived in Europe. This would account for the tales of dragons throughout Europe as well as China. No bones of giant monitor lizards have been found in China and Europe, however, but fossils are rare finds. Most animals that die in the wild are quickly eaten by scavengers, and in the case of monitor lizards, they will be eaten by their own kind. The only way fossils are created is when animals escaped being eaten, possibly when falling into a swamp, tar pit, or being buried in a volcanic eruption.
The only knowledge we would have of giant monitors in Europe are from stories of brave knights slaying “dragons”. However what is not mentioned in these stories is that the dragon being a cold-blooded creature would be so sluggish in the cold of the night that it would be unable to defend itself. This suggests that there are rational explanations for the existence of both the unicorn and dragon, but is this also true for mermaids?
The official explanation that mermaids are manatees or dugong is not so convincing. Authors who write about mermaids are confronted by a real mystery. Why did people in the past believe in such an outlandish creature? The belief in a woman with a fish tail seems as incredible as people believing in fairies. The difference is that few people ever claim to have seen fairies, whereas the reports of mermaid sightings are commonplace all over the world. Most commentators on mermaids do not know that many mermaid stories are written as a code. This code is used to overcome censorship, very much like the sexual innuendos used by people like Mae West in her plays and films, to get past censorship on sex in the 1930s. In her films you would have famous lines like: “Come up and see me some time” and “Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” These quotes by Mae West are totally innocuous, if you don’t understand her code. When you realize that she is referring to a penis, then the innuendo becomes very clear and her lines take on a totally new meaning.
The same is true for mermaid stories. Most mermaid stories are about the censoring of women’s history. To get past this censorship, authors in the past had to add magical bits within the stories, to fool the censors. Unfortunately they have not only fooled the censors of the past, but have also fooled academics and authors in modern times, who do not know the mermaid code. This is because many mermaid stories seem very absurd. However, if we take them seriously and see the magic parts as a code, the mermaid stories take on a completely new meaning, and show us a hidden chapter of women’s history.
To understand this code let us look at the famous French story of Melusine. This story is about a count called Raymond who meets Melusine, a beautiful and strange woman, by a fountain in the forest. She proposes marriage to him on one condition; that she is allowed to be alone every Saturday. Raymond agrees, and they get married. Then Melusine builds a beautiful chateau for both of them to live in. They live happily together and have many children, except the children are a bit strange as they have animal like features.
One day, overhearing gossip about his wife’s need to be alone on Saturday, Raymond becomes suspicious and then jealous. The next Saturday he spies on her, but instead of finding her with another man, he finds her splashing about in her bath, and her legs have been turned into a powerful fish tail! Raymond is relieved that his suspicions were unfounded, but now fears the consequences of breaking his word.
Then there is a family tragedy. In a fight, one of his sons kills another one. Despaired, he rages at Melusine, attacking her for his children’s behaviour. In doing so, he lets slip his knowledge that she is a mermaid. Melusine realizes he has broken his vow and leaves him without a word.
In legends from Brittany several notable families claim that Melusine is their ancestor. She is credited with the building of castles and monuments in Brittany that still exist today. Melusine is also credited as being an ancestor of the Luxembourg royal family, as she married Prince Siegfroid in 963 A.D. The story of Melusine and Siegfroid is basically the same as Melusine and Raymond.
|[Painting is by Isobel Lilian Gloag (1868-1917) and is called; The Kiss Of The Enchantress. This is probably Melusine and shows her as a magical and mythological creature that somehow is able to come on land with an impossible fish or serpents tail. The serpents tail might be a reference to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve.]
Now, we would normally assume that this is a fairy story because Melusine is able to magically grow a fish or serpents tail. However, if we were to take the magical element out of the story and use it as a symbol of who Melusine really was, then we can make sense of the story’s hidden message. This requires us to not see it as a fanciful myth but take it seriously and assume it is a real event. If we do this, the first thing we notice is that Melusine is a very unconventional person. It is she who takes the initiative in the relationship from the start. It is she who proposes marriage to Raymond; where even today it is customary for the man to propose to the women. She also lays down the conditions of the marriage, which Raymond agrees to without question. Then it is Melusine who builds the house they live in, suggesting she is a rich and powerful woman. In most stories of the past it is the man who is the breadwinner and it is he who owns the castle or house they live in. Melusine is richer than even Raymond, who is a count, and they live in her house, not his. So, from the very start, Melusine turns all the conventions you expect in medieval times, on their head.
The story goes on to suggest that Melusine’s children are ‘animal like’. Now this would be a reference to the attitudes of people at the time. To call someone an animal, is a form of abuse. In European football, the authorities have had to fine clubs who allow their fans to make monkey noises at black players. In other words, this story is proposing that Melusine and her children were being subjected to racial abuse, because in some way they were different. This suggests that; Melusine was a member of a despised minority, even though she was a rich and powerful woman. So which racial minority did Melusine belong to? A clue is given in the fact she had a magical fish tail; meaning she was a mermaid. The word mermaid, comes from the Latin word mare that means sea, (or can also mean a lake or bay). This is conjoined with the English word, maid, which in English, means woman. So she was a sea-woman.
Now in ancient times there was a mysterious race called the sea people, or “the people of the sea”. The first references to these people came when they invaded Egypt about 12,000 BC. They are also reported to have destroyed the Hittite empire. The problem for historians is that no one knows where they came from or who they were. As far as historians can tell they were ‘displaced people’; who displaced them, no one knows. After the war with Egypt they settled down in Palestine and were the original Philistines that were the enemy of the Israelites in the Bible. The sea people were related to the Phoenicians, who were a major sea power in ancient times. They again are a mysterious and secretive people. It seems they built ocean-going ships that sailed beyond the straits of Gibraltar. It is claimed they sailed around Africa and to America thousands of years before Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus. But they kept all knowledge of these journeys a secret.
When the Persians under Cyrus II the Great conquered the Phoenicians in 539 BC. They declined in power under Persian rule as many Phoenicians left their homeland and moved to Carthage. They were finally finished off by the conquest of Alexander the Great. At the same time Carthage in North Africa, another group of sea people flourished and created such a powerful sea-empire that they rivalled Rome, resulting in three wars between these two powerful states. In the third Punic War (149-146 BC) between the city of Carthage and Rome, Carthage was finally defeated.
[“Actaea, the Nymph of the Shore” by Frederic Leighton (1868). Nymphs are referred to as an Ancient Greek version of mermaids, yet they didn’t have a fish tail.]
Yet the Phoenicians were not the only sea people; there are sea people that have survived in South East Asia up until modern times. They are called sea gypsies, and live off the coast of places such as Burma, Thailand, Malaya, Borneo, Sumatra and the Philippines. Like the gypsies who live in Europe, they are a people apart; a secretive people who have their own customs and beliefs and don’t mix readily with ordinary people. So why is this? Why are sea-people all over the world so secretive?
This is not the only mystery involving people of the sea. It has been accepted for a long time that the first humans came to America about 13,000 years ago. However, in recent years archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation going back as far as 50,000 years. Not only that, but, at least three skulls of humans have been discovered ranging from 10,000 to 13,000 years old, that have raised major questions. This is because these skulls are unlike the Native American people that came from Asia. They look very much like the skulls of Australian Aborigines or white Caucasians.
Now the problem with this is that scientists believe that humans first came to America across the Bering Straits when it was a land bridge. This was because 13,000 years ago the sea levels were much lower than they are today, and the Bering land bridge was at that time free of ice. If it is accepted that people came before that time, they would have either had to come by boat or walk across the ice. To make matters worse, if we accept that the first inhabitants of America were Australian Aborigines, we would have to accept that Aborigines made the long journey across the Pacific from Australia to America about 50,000 years ago. The majority of people today would find this to be extremely incredible if not impossible. Yet is it? The Polynesian people in pre-historic times managed to settle in nearly all the Pacific islands; making vast sea-voyages in dugout canoes, as well as learning the navigation skills to find these islands. Before the Europeans invaded the Pacific, trade between the various Pacific islands was commonplace.
Yet there is another mystery here. It is assumed that the Polynesians came from South East Asia, because these are the closest lands to Polynesia. It sounds sensible if you sail there by motorboat, but it is far more difficult by sail. Thor Heyerdahl has pointed this out. To sail East from the Philippines or Indonesia in a primitive sailing boat or ship is nearly impossible, as you have to sail against the prevailing winds and ocean currents. This is what the Europeans discovered when they first came to the Pacific. Their ships were incapable of sailing upwind directly from South East Asia to the Polynesian islands or America. It was easier for them to follow the prevailing winds going north past Japan then across the Northern Pacific or going South of New Zealand into the “roaring forties”. Both routes east would miss Polynesia, so the only way they could get to the Polynesian islands by sail, was to go to America first then sail from there. Because of this, Heyerdahl made the claim that Polynesians came from America. He backs this up by pointing out the strong similarity between the Polynesians and the Native North American people. This is what his famous Kon-Tiki expedition was all about. To prove that it was possible to sail from America to the Polynesian islands in a traditional balsa raft.
The counterargument to this is that the prevailing winds do not always blow from east to west every year. In the mid-Pacific, in some years, it will blow in the opposite direction. Also, the Polynesians didn’t need to sail upwind for thousands of miles, but could island hop in short journeys all the way from New Guinea to the Hawaiian Islands. There is good reason to believe both are correct, as two different peoples settled the Pacific islands before the European invasion.
What is surprising is that, in either dugout canoes or sailing rafts, ancient people managed to find and settle on Easter Island. This island is 2,000 miles from both Chile and Tahiti, while the nearest land to it is the small Pitcairn Island, which is 1,450 miles away. Yet this is also a very isolated island that was uninhabited until the Bounty mutineers settled it. However, it seems that Polynesians found this remote island and briefly settled on it even before the Bounty mutineers.
The concept of Stone-Age Australian Aborigines, sailing across the Pacific to America, seems incredible to us because we have been led to believe that human beings are totally land based animals. Further more, we assume that Stone-Age people must have seen the oceans as a very hostile environment, and certainly wouldn’t go beyond the sight of land in their primitive craft. The common belief is that ocean voyages only happened when people built large and sturdy ships, in historic times that could carry enough food and water for long voyages.
Yet this belief totally excludes the experiences of the Polynesians, who explored and navigated the whole of the Pacific in primitive dug-out canoes.
We are told that humans broke away from the ape family when our ape ancestors came out of the trees and lived on the African savannah. This is what is called the savannah theory, which tries to prove that all the differences between humans and apes developed when our distant ancestors came out of the trees. Then, the problems of living on the savannah caused us to have bigger brains, lose our fur, walk upright and learn to use tools and weapons. The problem with this theory is that humans are not the only primates to do this. Baboons have also climbed out of the trees to live on the savannah, yet they didn’t develop bigger brains, bipedal walking and the skill of using tools. In fact, the savannah theory has been totally discredited, yet it is still being taught today to schoolchildren.
There is a far better theory that explains just about everything about why humans are different from apes and that is the aquatic ape theory. This theory explains why we have large brains, diving skills, breath control, speech, small mouth & chewing muscles, tongue bone descent, longer airway, projecting nose, poor sense of smell, handiness, tool use, late puberty, long legs, aligned body, poor climbing, fur loss, fatness, profuse sweating, high needs of water, sodium, iodine and poly-unsaturated fatty acids, why women have breasts and large bottoms, and why human mothers are able to give birth underwater.
As this theory can explain so much, why are establishment scientists still rejecting it? This is because if it was generally accepted, we would not only have to re-write history, we would find we are different creatures to what we have been taught we were. If we accept the aquatic ape theory then we would also have to accept that human beings are a semi-aquatic animal. There are people who live a semi-aquatic existence right up to the present day, these people were once known in historic times as mermaids.