When I was a little girl I loved fairy stories. Not the Disney fairy stories we are subjected to today, I preferred those fairy stories where you don’t stop to listen to the merry music the fairies are playing or you will be lost for a hundred years.
So many of the mythical creatures we all know started off as a scary thing, the stories about them were full of taboos or warnings. They were not the fairytale creatures we make happy stories out of today!
Long ago when people believed in mermaids they didn’t believe in the Disney version, a young girl pining for a better life above the waves. Back then mermaids were at times spiteful creatures, best left alone.
A perfect example of that is this article from 1911. The mermaid in this story sat on a stone and sang all night disturbing a baby.
The mother took the drastic step of having the stone smashed by her servants in the hopes that the mermaid would stay away. The mermaid then sang her vengeful intentions;
“Ye may think on your cradle,
I’ll think on my stane;
And there’ll never be an heir
To Knockdolian again.”
They story ends with the death of the baby and the extinction of the family line. Nasty.
The thing that started me on this subject was an item in the ABC news yesterday, Mythical mermaids big business in Zimbabwe – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
This article is current news but could just as easily have been written in those fairytale believing times from my childhood stories. The Zimbabwean Pastor Togare Mapingure believes in mermaids, but not in a good way. He believes that they are a demonic force responsible for kidnapping, torture and murder.
He claims to have been taken by the mermaids and spent two years living like them and being educated by them. Interestingly he says they eat fish, rice and chicken only. Fish yes, I totally get that, but where did they develop a taste for chicken? The best part of his unlikely life-under-the-waves story to me is the rice, how do underwater dwellers cook rice? Hydrothermal vents? But why?
The mermaids can’t be that bad if they spent time sharing their knowledge and then let him go. He really should be a little nicer about them then, shouldn’t he? I mean he couldn’t possibly be using a story to gain power over….. oh…never mind…that’s a whole other post.