Siren cast on human-mermaid relationships and perceptions of otherness
Mermaids and Sirens: Women's Relationship with Water from Myth to Renaissance. By MGN. By Elysia S. Though Renaissance ideas of the. Long before Disney introduced the family-friendly Ariel, mermaids were used in fantasy fiction as a safe representation of female sexuality, apropos for even the most puritanical of societies. But in Freeform’s new series Siren, the sea-dwellers we get are much more intimidating. Siren cast members Rena Owen, Ian Verdun and Sibongile Mlambo explain why the human-mermaid relationships are an examination of how.
The sirens, bird-woman and the first representations of what we now call the mermaid, are usually attributed to the oldest water divinity, Achelous. Their existence is problematic because there are multiple stories describing how the sirens gained or lost wings and came to the water. Meri Lao explains that, in one version of the story, the sirens are banished to the sky by a jealous Aphrodite. In another, their wings are torn off by the Muses after the sirens dared challenge them to a singing contest Lao Even as creatures of the sky, they drown themselves when they fail to seduce Ulysses.
This return to the sea and its symbolic relationship is also demonstrative of the knowledge possessed by sirens. Lilith and Tiamat were said to possess similar knowledge: Lao describes said marine knowledge as ambivalent: Consequently, any woman tied to water or marine instinct should be feared for possessing the capability to dispense both death and immortality.
Before and during the Renaissance, the mermaid existed as a sort of anti-woman. The Catholic Church accepted this imagery, using the mermaid in masonry and carving for nearly years. To Catholic priests, she was the temptress standing, or swimming, between a man and God Philpotts The figure seducing Adam and Eve at the Tree of Knowledge is a woman with a serpentine tail, reminiscent of the mermaid in shape and substance.
The men were so frightened that they loosed hold of their oars, for the whole sea resounded with the rushing of the waters, but the ship stayed where it was, for the men had left off rowing.
I went round, therefore, and exhorted them man by man not to lose heart. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say, trust in Jove and row on with might and main. As for you, coxswain, these are your orders; attend to them, for the ship is in your hands; turn her head away from these steaming rapids and hug the rock, or she will give you the slip and be over yonder before you know where you are, and you will be the death of us.
Then a man appeared from the sea, rising every day out of the waters and coming quite close to shore, though he never actually touched the land. I He was a strange figure, like a man from the waist up but with two fish tails instead of legs and a face that might have been human yet was oddly like that of a porpoise. His long hair and beard were green. He would float on the surface of a the water, his fish tails clearly visible, and sing to the people.
He told them how beautiful was the land whence he had come, the land of the sea. He told them of the treasures that lay under the waves, and of the strange fish people, and of the lovely green light that shone in the deeper waters, and the people, knowing that those who disappeared under the water never returned to earth, were frightened.
But then he told them that across the waters lay another land to which a he could guide them, a land where they could live and find food.
Mermaids and Sirens, Symbols of Seduction and Transformation - Northstar Gallery
But eventually, since they were nearly starving in their own land, they decided to trust the -words of the fish-man.
They built boats, gathered up their families and their few possessions, and followed in the wake of this strange green-haired creature who called to them.
He led them east, straight across the sea to the land of which he had told them, and there they landed safely and there they founded a new tribe; it was thus that the Indians came from Asia to North America. The fish-man, or fish-god, as he may have been, then disappeared, still singing, and was never seen again.
He was about to throw it back into the river by which he stood when the fish spoke to him, begging him not to leave it in the water until it had grown bigger, because it was afraid of the great creatures of the sea. Manu accordingly placed the little fish in a bowl, but by morning it had grown so that the bowl was too small, and soon even the largest cauldron would not hold it. He took it to a lake nearby, but even that was too small, and it was with difficulty that he at last managed to get the now gigantic fish down to the sea.
There it spoke to him again. I will send a ship for you and for the seven sages, and you must take with you in this ship two of every creature that lives on earth or in the air, and you must take the seeds of every plant. Manu made ready as he was told, and in seven days the sea rose out of its bed and flowed over the earth. At the same time a great ship appeared and Manu and all his menagerie embarked, guided by Vishnu in his fish shape.
This same fish, huge and with golden scales, then fastened the ship to his single horn and towed it up to the peak of the great mountains in the north. From thence, as the waters subsided, Manu was able to guide his vessel gradually down the slope of the mountain and back to the lands he knew, the mountain having ever since borne the name "The Descent of Manu. Sirens are hybrid creatures, half animal half woman with strong feminine identities.
The two beings coexist in the same body with the prerogative of accessing the qualities of both ever being transformed, perpetually provocative and disturbing. Freud's concept of symbol expresses the notion that conflicts are explored in metaphors in the unconscious where censorship disguises enigma.
Hybridization, ambivalence, polarity, duplicity and dualism are the qualities created by fear and the unresolved. Jung suggests that supernatural forces springs from the fusion of two biologically different entities, opposites that embrace and explain practically everything.
Jung believed symbols materialize on their own account in our dreams, the expression of which is beyond the dimensions of time and space and in the sphere of unspecified and unlimited. These symbols therefore possess a numinous character and impress themselves on the general consciousness, disturbing for those minds used to operation within the limits of logic and rationality. Nevertheless, we can suppose that primordial images, sediments of accumulated memory, collective input, have a life of their own, independent of single individuals.
As children we dreamed of monsters; what matters is that they approach, threaten and we are astonished, terrified, bewitched, petrified; and we either flee or overcome them. Often the dream repeats again and again seeking integration and resolution.
Mermaids and Sirens: Women’s Relationship with Water from Myth to Renaissance
Symbols, moreover, are natural and spontaneous products. No one can take a more or less rational thought, reached as a logical conclusion or by deliberate intent, and than give it "symbolic form".Legend of Sirens - Mythical creature - Greek Mythology
There are many symbols, however, that are not individual but collective in their nature and origin. These are chiefly religious images. The believer assumes that they are of divine origin - that they have been revealed to man. The skeptic says flatly that they have been invented.
It is true, as the skeptic notes, that religious symbols and concepts have for centuries been the object of careful and quite conscious elaboration. It is equally true, as the believer implies, that their origin is so far buried in the mystery of the past that they seem to have no human source. But they are in fact "collective representations," emanating from primeval dreams and creative fantasies.
As such, these images are involuntary spontaneous manifestations and by no means intentional inventions. Noah looks on anxiously as fellow passengers on the Ark ogle nearby mermaids. Moralized, she now existed solely as a siren eager to lure the upright citizen from the straight and narrow.
The censorious Church attitude reflected a central repressive approach to sex in general. It is not fitting that a man who has approached his wife should enter Church before he has washed nor is he to enter at once though washed Mermaid carving began to appear increasingly in church decoration and mermaid illustrations formed a popular feature of the bestiary books that came into vogue between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, in which fantastic descriptions of real and imaginary creatures were used to illustrate points of Christian dogma.
As fatal charmer, the mermaid continued the siren tradition but in fish rather than bird form.