by Demi Fox
The New Age loves to get it’s teeth into a mythological creature or two. Who doesn’t love the concept of there being other spiritual beings out there to back us humans up?
Over the last decade we have had the immense popularity of the love n’ light angels, on their mission to liberate and uplift mankind. We have had the faerie rennassiance, the nature spirits living in our back gardens who wish to bring us back into harmony with the earth.
Now, the New Age has got its eyes on some tasty Mermaids.
The age-old sexy fishy ladies are getting the New Age treatment.
Mermaids are experiencing a huge surge of popularity at the moment (I like to think it’s because they are AWESOME and people are drawn to the power beneath the image) but the New Age isn’t telling the whole story.
See, the New Age movement has an agenda. The New Age is invested in avoiding negativity in order to cultivate love, believing that there is goodness everywhere and that just by focusing on the lovely things, the bad, difficult and challenging things will cease to exist.
In the interests of making everything about light and love – those age-old, universally agreed upon (thus non-confrontational) spiritual pillars – the New Age likes to tell us all the good things about spiritual beings and none of the bad.
Because a spirituality about light and love is good, right? Everyone knows that Divine Love is the Best Love. Jesus dug it, Buddha dug it. Anything that isn’t love and light must be bad, right?
This short-sighted whitewashing means that the whole story isn’t always told. And nowhere is this more true than about mermaids.
So here are the lies the New Age has been telling you about mermaids.
1. Mermaids are about love and light and are here to help humankind ascend.
There is this theory that all spiritual beings – angels, faeires, unicorns, aliens – are all interested in helping humans evolve and ascend to the next level of being. Their mission – to enlighten! With divine wisdom!
Problem is, mermaids don’t really fit into this. I’m not really sure they care a lot about human enlightenment.
Mermaids are more about liberation. They are the spiritual being of choice for feminists. Like, Gloria Steinem’s Spirit Animal. Mermaids are all about liberation and acceptance of the feminine.
But they would be equally supportive if your life’s dream was to become Jesus mk. 2 or if your life’s dream was to win Pop Idol. They don’t discriminate.
Ascension also tends to be all about transcending the physical aspects of being human; the feelings, the body, the sexy times. Mermaids are having none of that. They are all about the physical.
2. Mermaids are like the angels of love and romance.
I always see this and think… have you read any mermaid folklore? Mermaids all had a terrible time with romance, with very few exceptions.
For example, when the Mermaid Queen Jurate falls in love with a sailor and the Sky God who fancies her finds out, he kills Jurate’s lover and chains her to her underwater palace for all eternity. Great.
I have a theory that this mermaid love-and-romance idea has come from the movie The Little Mermaid. I am not kidding. That film has had a phenomenal impact on everyones perception of mermaids in western culture, as in now you say “mermaid” and you think Ariel.
Mermaids and Princess Ariel are almost synonymous in the general public’s thoughts. The Little Mermaid movie that took a tragic story of a mermaid girl searching for a soul and turned it into a story about a mermaid princess falling in love with a prince and living happily ever after.
Mermaids got Princessified! Whereas before they were tempting succubuses who turned poets and farm boys mad with lust, now the cultural perception is that they are doe eyed romantics dreaming about their one true love.
Mermaid love stories have nothing to do with love. That’s not the point of them.
They are political, they are power plays, they are showing women getting fucked over by the system. Mermaids at their core are not all about romance.
They like it, of course, but they don’t turn it into an ever-after fairytale. The Selkie always leaves her human lover to return to the ocean. The mermaid always returns to her self.
Mermaids are the ultimate beings of Self love – have you ever met a mermaid who didn’t fully appreciate her own magnificence? – but as far as them being a divine band aid for love and romance, nope.
3. Mermaids are gentle water guardians.
We get fed this idea that mermaids are to be relied upon for gentle guidance, for serenely washing away our sorrows, letting go of our ex-boyfriend troubles to a river or a waterfall or something. They are lovely feminine water spirits, so they represent the healing, soothing nature of water.
This is nonsense.
This is coming from our outdated, whitewashed notion of what it means to be a woman. That being a woman means being sweet and unassuming and gentle and submissive, all the things that the patriarchy has brainwashed us into believing. Ugh.
This is coming from a couple of centuries of romanticising the natural world.
Back in victorian times, when industrial shit got real and everyone lived in cramped stinky smoggy cities, poets and storytellers and peeps with time on their hands started dreaming about how everything was much better in the past, when we lived on farms and were one with nature etc. etc.
Notice how they liked to write poems about daffodils and hedgerows rather than about roadkill and miximitosis.
Mermaids are primal, passionate forces of sexuality and independance. Like the ocean, they are wild and uncontrollable and tempestuous. They are SO not tame and sweet and gentle (unless it’s a front for some nefarious purpose).
Similarly, mermaid guidance is blunt and to the point. They don’t have much patience for wishful thinking.
They are interested in one thing: Truth. Your truth. Their truth. They will happily support you in unbinding yourself from the shackles of patriarchal conditioning, in discovering and owning your own power.
But the process of unbinding is difficult and dangerous, like any sea voyage. It takes more than cuddles and waggy tails to break through a prison.
Mermaids are challenging. They are so much about sex and death and desire. Their ocean of feeling is full of love and anger, joy and crippling sorrow, and they want us to claim all of it as sacred and holy. They want us to let all of it flow through us.
Mermaids want you to know how it is. And often the truth is brutal and dark and flinty and sharp.
4. Secretly, the New Age really doesn’t know much about mermaids.
Pick up a mermaid new age book, any mermaid new age book. No-one has anything to say.
They can talk about stories, they can talk about how beautiful mermaids are, they can talk about love and feminine wisdom, but in the end they run out of stuff to say and start talking about dolphins or Lemuria or something else instead.
The New Age is invested in seeing the good in everything, and trying to squash the bad. Unconditional Love, y’all. Negativity-free!
Problem is, mermaids are really difficult to whitewash because there is just so much you have to clean away to make them palatable. You have to clean away all the jealousy, the storms, the murderous intent.
You have to put a new age sheen on the constantly twisting emotions, the vanity, and the unabashed sexuality. You have to start getting into the reasons why mermaids stories all end in woe and despair, and it all gets a little political and confrontational there on out.
Take away all those deep, meaty, complicated things, and what have you got? A shallow stereotype.
Just like with real women. Take away their anger, complex opinions, power and sexuality and you have a pretty gentle thing to look at with no power or majesty of her own.
Everyone is so enchanted by mermaids. They are beautiful, mysterious, otherworldly… but only few people are able to see the power behind that image. The forbidden womanhood. The languid independence. The luscious sensuality.
Because the magic and power of mermaids is their darkness.
It is their violent emotions and their sex and their lack of shame. That is why they are such a potent force, such a powerful inspiration for our culture.
That is why the Mermaid Archetype is arising at this time – this time when women are able to make their own decisions and run their own lives for the first time in thousands of years, when women are able to start making their OWN decisions about what it means to be a woman.
About the Author:
Demi Fox is a Mermaid Priestess, an Artist, a Dancer, a Professional Mermaid and a sacred lover of the Divine. She creates mind-blowing courses to free your mermaid spirit and teaches dance internationally. Additionally she loves playing the Ukulele, expensive breakfast cereal, all the animals and…. Gary Oldman as Dracula. Sssssh.
You can learn more about her work and get mo’ mermaid at her website Rockstar Priestess, or pop on over and say Hi on Facebook.
Image Sources: feat: blue sea Mermaid, Princess in a boat, mucha Ariel, black coral Mermaid
Show Comments (4)
Great article… yes… way too many new-agey shit going on with our cultural history. Not to mention the fact that mermaids lured men to the deaths… they are about as far from angelic as can be. Between this and the sparkly vampire romanticism movement – I even hesitate to identify as Pagan these days. Life is hard, Mother Nature is a cruel Bitch – plain and simple. Great article! Thanks for sharing!
My opinion is this person didn’t actually do their research. There are mermaid myths for every culture on earth.
1. Yes actually, about half of the mermaid myths out there are about love, life, life giving, etc. This ignores yemaya- the African mermaid goddess, and many others tied to aboriginal groups that are all about love and protection. So these ideas didn’t just come from nowhere.
2. literally 25% of all the mermaid myths I could find ARE about mermaids falling in love. Again, this ignores huge cultural groups. Such as Sovvan Macha, a Hindu mermaid who falls in love with a human and has mermaid babies. The idea of mermaids as agents of love was popular LONG before Disney hit the scenes. The Little Mermaid (the actual story) just happens to be one of the more popular stories, however this idea persists for a reason- because it is present in MANY mermaid follklores.
3. Again, at least half of the mermaid myths, mermaids are water guardians. Please do actual research. Sedna, Sabawaelenu, Yawkayawk etc there are so many
4. Who the heck is the “new age” anyway? People who don’t agree with them. Sorry, I think books like Doreen Virtue’s mermaid book (I guess she’d be new age) do an excellent job of exploring myths and combining it with modern day legend and science, along with exploring professional mermaids. That point just sounds bitter TBH.
Honestly, this entire blog just comes off ignorant to me. And click bait. Makes sweeping generalizations that ignores basically every mermaid that isn’t white.
Signed, a professional mermaid who has actually researched the heck out of mermaid history and teaches workshops on it.
Disney’s Ariel is one of the most popular Disney princesses. It definitely has influenced little girls to want to be mermaids. I know women who put on mermaid tails and be mermaids at birthday parties, usually for kids. They focus on ocean conservation. The other things about sexuality are too much for younger children. When I wrote my book, Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident, I intentionally did not use the old romantic notion of mermaids. In my book, mermaids fight each other. One of them even says that the mermaid world is nothing like Disney.