The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at Questkid13@gmail.com

Side Note: There have been concerns about my using Wikipedia because it is not a reliable resource. I am well aware of wikipedia's unreliable nature--but that's exactly why I use it. Fantasy creatures are available to all, and everyone should have a chance to add their "discoveries." This website is supposed to be a fun collection of fantastical creature information with fun images to go with. I am not a reliable source--I'm just a collector. Though at this point, I am flattered that people are concerned with the validity of my site. :)

!!!!This is NOT a forum. Comments are to be informative and generally helpful. Clean humor is acceptable, but NOT if it detracts from the entry. This site is to help people find out more about fantastical creatures!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mermaids

A mermaid (from the Middle English mere in the obsolete sense 'sea' (as in Maritime, the Latin mare, "sea") + maid(en)) is an aquatic creature with the head and torso of human female and the tail of a fish. The male version of a mermaid is called a merman; gender-neutral plurals could be merpeople or merfolk.

Personality
It has been said that mermaids are to be known for their vanity, but also for their innocence. They often fall in love with human men, and are willing to go to great extents to prove their love with humans. Unfortunately, especially younger mermaids, often tend to forget humans cannot breathe underwater. Their male counterparts, Mermen, are rarely interested in human issues, but in the Finnish mythology mermen are able to grant wishes, heal sickness, lift curses and brew magic potions.

Abilities
Much like sirens, mermaids would sometimes sing to sailors and enchant them, distracting them from their work and causing them to walk off the deck or cause shipwrecks. Other stories would have them squeeze the life out of drowning men while trying to rescue them. They are also said to take them down to their underwater kingdoms. However, Mermaids are mostly just terrible flirts and know how their perfect upper form can affect foolish men. In general, it is often better just to avoid mermaids completely than to become involved with their silly ideas of "true" love.
HISTORY
Ancient Near East
Tales of mermaids are nearly universal. The first known mermaid stories appeared in Assyria, ca. 1000 BC. Atargatis, the mother of Assyrian queen Semiramis, was a goddess who loved a mortal shepherd and in the process killed him. Ashamed, she jumped into a lake to take the form of a fish, but the waters would not conceal her divine beauty. Thereafter, she took the form of a mermaid — human above the waist, fish below.
A popular Greek legend has Alexander the Great's sister, Thessalonike, turn into a mermaid after her death. She lived, it was said, in the Aegean and when sailors would encounter her, she would ask them only one question: "Is Alexander the king alive?", to which the correct answer would be "He lives and still rules". Any other answer would spur her into a rage, where she transformed into a Gorgon and meant doom for the ship and every sailor onboard. This particular myth might have been more in reference to a nixie rather than a mermaid. Nixies have the ability to shapeshift, not mermaids. Although they're normal state is similiar in appearance at times, nixies tend to be more mischevious and threatening than mermaids.
Lucian of Samosata in Syria (2nd century AD) in De Dea Syria ("Concerning the Syrian Goddess") wrote of the Syrian temples he had visited:
"Among them - Now that is the traditional story among them concerning the temple. But other men swear that Semiramis of Babylonia, whose deeds are many in Asia, also founded this site, and not for Hera Atargatis but for her own Mother, whose name was Derketo"
"I saw the likeness of Derketo in Phoenicia, a strange marvel. It is woman for half its length, but the other half, from thighs to feet, stretched out in a fish's tail. But the image in the Holy City is entirely a woman, and the grounds for their account are not very clear. They consider fishes to be sacred, and they never eat them; and though they eat all other fowls, they do not eat the dove, for she is holy so they believe. And these things are done, they believe, because of Derketo and Semiramis, the first because Derketo has the shape of a fish, and the other because ultimately Semiramis turned into a dove. Well, I may grant that the temple was a work of Semiramis perhaps; but that it belongs to Derketo I do not believe in any way. For among the Egyptians, some people do not eat fish, and that is not done to honor Derketo."

Arabian Nights
The Arabian Nights include several tales featuring "Sea People", such as Djullanar the Sea-girl. Unlike the depiction in other mythologies, these are anatomically identical to land-bound humans, differing only in their ability to breathe and live underwater. They can (and do) interbreed with land humans, the children of such unions inheriting the ability to live underwater. This myth was probably more in reference to Lorelei rather than Mermaids, however, because, once again, the ability to shapeshift. Unlike Nixies, Lorelei can only take a seemingly human form--while Nixies prefer stronger oceanic beasts. References of Lorelei and Human children are yet unproven--but it is also unlikely, as they tend to be incompatable physically.

British
Mermaids were noted in British folklore as both ominous, foretelling disaster, and provoking it. Several variants of the ballad Sir Patrick Spens depict a mermaid speaking to the doomed ships; in some, she tells them they will never see land again, and in others, she claims they are near shore, which they are wise enough to know means the same thing. They can also be a sign of rough weather. This myth is most likely true, as mermaids are brilliant weather forecasters and can predict upcoming storms through the water currents. If a ship is far enough from port, the mermaids feel inclined to help the doomed sailors--but more often than not, they can't do anything other than warn them of the storm.
Mermaids could also swim up rivers to freshwater lakes. One day, in a lake near his house, the Laird of Lorntie saw, as he thought, a woman drowning, and went to aid her; a servant of his pulled him back, warning that it was a mermaid, and the mermaid screamed after that she would have killed him if it were not for his servant. Possibly a true myth, some mermaids take their relationships a little too seriously. Once broken hearted, a few become bitter against all men in general and try to drown any that come close by.
Special thanks to Wikipedia...and to Goldronin of Deviantart.com for this slightly stolen artwork.

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