mermaid - daughter of
mermaid is the loveliest creature on a' Geud's earth, or in a' the wide sea."
Orkney, the mermaid was traditionally thought to
be the daughter of a Finman.
began her life as a mermaid, typically beautiful with a long, glistening fish
tail, tresses of golden hair, snow-white skin and a beauty beyond compare.
young mermaid had but one goal in her life - to acquire a mortal husband. It was
only then that she could discard her fish tail and become a beautiful mortal woman.
she failed to attract, or trap, a mortal husband, and had to marry one of her
own kind, she was doomed to grow uglier and uglier.
folklorist Walter Traill Dennison, documented that during the first seven years
of marriage to a Finman, the mermaid would gradually lose her exquisite loveliness.
During the second seven years she became "no fairer
than a mortal woman" and in the third seven years the mermaid degenerated
into an ugly and repulsive Finwife.
obvious reasons, the mermaid's desire for a human husband was strong in the Orcadian
superstition. For this reason they were often blamed for the disappearance of
many young men in the turbulent waters around the islands.
only way by which the mermaid could escape this loss of her charms was by marrying
a man of human race. And this union could only be consummated by sexual intercourse,
Hence her frequent attempts, by displaying her beauty on the seashore and by her
enchanting music, to lure a man into wedlock."
Walter Traill Dennison
The northern siren
it was not only the mermaid's exquisite form that was said to have the power of
bewitching unfortunate mortals.
Her beautiful singing
voice was also enchanting and, like the Sirens of Greek mythology, had the power
to ensnare anyone who heard it.
When the mermaid resorted
to using her hypnotic singing to allure a man into her embrace, the victim had
but one chance of escape.
Gathering his wits he had to
recite the following charm, the only way in which the mermaid's spell could be
"Geud tak a care o' me! Geud's
I hear de mermaid sing;
Hid's bonnie, bonnie, bit no sae bonnie,
As Geud's bells I heeven ring."
the mermaid's tail
The subject of the mermaid's tail
was hotly debated by the storytellers of yesteryear.
had it that in the water the mermaid had a fish tail that was a part of her body.
Others, however, were adamant that her tail was nothing more than a skirt that
fastened around her waist.
When the mermaid was on land
this skirt formed a beautiful embroidered petticoat, while at sea it was gathered
together at the bottom into a tail-like garment that covered her feet.