Stories of fae in the water have spilled into folklore around the world.
Stories of spirit beings and creatures beyond imagining have floated into human consciousness for generations. Perhaps none are as intriguing as those who dwell in the watery depths of Earth's oceans. Water fae are among the most famous faerie people in legend, and are featured in the upcoming Faerie Apothecary Mysteries book 6, Talismans and Turmoil.
Let's meet some of these sea-faring fae folk, shall we?
The well-known spirits of the water featured in the Grimm brother's fairy tales are mentioned in myths the world over. Maybe the oldest legend originates from the Babylonian half-fish/half-man diety Era (or possibly called Oannes) (Mermaids & Mermen: Facts & Legends, Retrieved August 15, 2019). The Greek god Triton not only ruled the sea, but was also sometimes depicted as having the qualities of the creatures that inhabit the waters (as in he was part fish - really!). Beliefs in sea-spirits around the world persist to this day.
But what are they? In Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy-tale, they are soulless creatures who can only gain a soul by attaining the love of humans (Mermaids & Mermen: Facts & Legends, Retrieved August 15, 2019). In Scottish and Welsh beliefs they are stunningly gorgeous women who seduce men and even sometimes marry them. Their male counterparts are not so friendly, often summoning storms and drowning sailors (perhaps because those sailors keep taking their women?).
The Blue Men of the Minch of the Outer Hebrides are one such group of mermen whose violent tempers are matched by equally violent storms (Mermaids & Mermen: Facts & Legends, Retrieved August 15, 2019). There is one way to defeat them, though. If the captain of a ship can win their rhyming contests, the blue men might let them pass unharmed (Water Fae, Retrieved August 15, 2019).
Unfortunately, not even contests can save a human who encounters certain wicked water faeries. Sailors guarding themselves against the stormy weather of the blue men might not be as prepared for the more subtle susceptibility to the sirens' song. Sirens, beautiful half-bird, half-woman fae, use their hypnotizing, harmonic voices to lure men to their deaths (Mermaids & Mermen: Facts & Legends, Retrieved August 15, 2019). They have been singing songs to sailors since the time of ancient Greek tales.
Unlike the friendly Bean Tighe women who cook and clean and generally care for humans with kind-hearted tenderness, the Bean Nighe has a less than friendly relationship with humans. If she sees you before you see her, your days on earth are numbered (Sedgwick, 2018). Why is the Bean Nighe seen as an omen of death in folklore? The sight of her, or rather her sighting of a person, curses the person to imminent death. Though the death is not directly by her hand, she is said to be an omen of a soon-to-be departing. If, however, you can see her first and catch her, she is duty-bound to give you three wishes - whatever those wishes may be. Death and desire-fulfilment makes for a rather interesting case of opposites, doesn't it?
Travel south and sailors might see seals swimming about or relaxing on land in their tight-knit seal communities (Water Fae, Retrieved August 15, 2019). But what if these playful animals could take human form? That's exactly what old legends state. Specifically, the myths say that selkies can shed their seal skin. They'd better hide it well, though, because if a person were to find the seal skin, the selfie it belongs to would have to marry the human who found it (Sedgwick, 2019). This is mainly true for female selkies, though male selkies may be honor-bound to a woman who weeps tears or blood into the sea at night. A strange way to find a spouse, but no worries if it doesn't work. There are plenty of water fae in the sea.
Perhaps the strangest shape of a water fae is that of a horse, but this is the form of the kelpies. These fae are wild and difficult to tame. When bridled, they are forced to serve the master who reigned them in (pun intended). If you keep the bridle, the fae is forever in the service of the bridle owner (Water Fae, Retrieved August 15, 2019). To avoid capture, they will trap a human who has touched them and drag them into the water to drown. Such fae are stronger than humans or regular horses. Speaking of which, like the other fae, kelpies can become human. They're still recognizable, though, as these willful sea-wanderers tend to have seaweed in their hair.
We met one kelpie, Gerard, in the last book, Potions and Panic. In book 6 of The Faerie Apothecary mysteries, we see kelpies, selkies, sirens and more. Some of these water fae are good, some just can't help being bad. For good or ill, our main characters are out on the high seas.
Will they make it through water fae territory safely?
You'll have to wait to see!
Icy Sedgwick, Mandal, R., Leo, R., & Icy Sedgwick. (2019, June 29). Are selkies as dangerous as mermaids and sirens? Retrieved from http://www.icysedgwick.com/selkies-folklore/
Icy Sedgwick, Peters, H., & Icy Sedgwick. (2018, July 10). Why is the Bean Nighe seen as an omen of death in folklore? Retrieved from http://www.icysedgwick.com/bean-nighe/
Kelpie - Shape-shifting Water Spirit. (2017, April 08). Retrieved from https://mythology.net/mythical-creatures/kelpie/
Mermaids & Mermen: Facts & Legends. Retrieved August 15, 2019 from https://www.livescience.com/39882-mermaid.html
Water Fae (n.d.). Retrieved August 15, 2019, from http://www.hafapea.com/thelandoffaepages/thefae4.html