Water Witch Lore – Merfolk
Whole books have been written about mermaids and mermen. The mermaids are the female version of this race of water beings. They are said to be exceptionally beautiful and have the upper body of a human woman and the lower body of a large fish. Scottish folklore states that human legs are just beneath the fish scales.
Merfolk are usually spotted by fisherman, most often while the merfolk are sunning themselves on rocks. They are said to have enchanting singing voices and have been credited with leading many sailors to their deaths. They are also said to be portents of particularly violent storms.
As members of the fairy realm, merfolk are thought to be soulless. It is a common belief that they can gain a soul by marrying a human and remaining on dry land. Moreover, it is also commonly accepted that to gain a mermaid wife, a human must steal her comb, cap, or mirror and then hide it. If the mermaid cannot find et, she will remain on land. Eventually, she will be overcome with homesickness and slip quietly back into the water.
Merman, in stark contrast to the beautiful females of the species, are said to be ugly. They have green hair, large mouths, snub noses, and green teeth. They reportedly give off a “wild” vibration. They are said to be adversarial and cause storms or large waves unless offerings are made to them. Frequently, the ship’s captain would tend to this by placing any dead bodies with the offerings and then tossing them overboard.
One well-documented merfolk encounter took place in Denmark, in the year 1723. It seems that a royal commission had become so plagued with merfolk tales that they set out to disprove their existence. Along the way, they themselves encountered a merman. He was said to have risen from the water and stared at them. After a few minutes of this, they were so disturbed that they turned the ship around. Once they did, the merman growled at them and dove back into the water.
There are hundreds of accounts from people claiming to have seen a mermaid. Even Christopher Columbus claimed to have encountered mermaids in his voyage to the West Indies.
Some tales of merfolk-type creatures are quite ancient. The Babylonian God Oannes, who was human from the waist up and a fish from the waist down, was popular around the year 300 BC. Oannes was credited with imparting knowledge and culture to humans. Other deities of the merfolk type were worshipped in India, Greece, and Rome.
In Ancient China, around 3322 BC, the deities of Fuxi and his wife, Nu Gua, were thought of as the founders of Chinese civilization, after the great flood. Half-human, half-fish, they created the system of the I Ching.