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Graceful, powerful mermaids can teach us about harnessing the unconscious mind's ability to attract, create, and manifest. Come and explore this magical underwater world ...

Walt Disney’s animated film The Little Mermaid, based on Hans Christian Anderson’s iconic fairy tale, became an instant success at the box office grossing $200 million and creating a new genre in cinematic history. Is Hollywood merely repackaging ancient popular myths? There are those who believe that mermaids are much more than a figment of the imagination.

The image of beautiful, independent merpeople is embedded within many cultures, depicted in films, works of art, even business logos. Where does our fascination with these mystical sea dwellers come from? “The mermaid is the voice of the sea, and being half fish and half human, she symbolises our deep connection to the ocean and all sea life,” explains Dana Richardson, safety swimmer and ‘professional mermaid’. “They are the ‘known’ human form (represented in its most alluring beautiful female version) and a fish tail, which is representative of the ‘unknown’, the depths of the sea and Mother Nature in her awesome glory,” adds Hannah Frazer, passionate ocean activist and ‘professional mermaid’.

Long-ago legends

Myths tell of exploring seafarers in the Middle Ages who claimed to see half-human, half-fish creatures; mermaids, who with their beauty and guile tried to lure sailors into the depths of the sea, reminiscent of Anderson’s fictional tale. Now, it could well be argued that these mariners were away at sea for such extended periods and were so lonely for female companionship that they simply mistook dolphins and manatees for mermaids … yet, creation legends worldwide also suggest that life originated in the ocean and that we were born of fish-tailed creatures.

The Dogon tribe in West Africa, for example, has long shared stories of merpeople who came to earth in a vessel accompanied by fire and thunder, to create human bodies from water and to teach the people how to fish and drink water. The Tahitians also believe humans originated from the ocean, and that we therefore share a common ancestry with sea creatures. Doreen Virtue, author and clairvoyant, firmly agrees with this view. In her book Mermaids 101 (Hay House, http://www.hayhouse.com.au/), she suggests that not only do many of us share an affinity with these beautiful beings, but that we also all originate from merpeople.

Virtue argues that mermaids, unicorns, fairies and other so-called mythical animals did, in fact, once live on earth as physical beings. She goes on to say that, “They were either hunted into extinction, or they elected to move to a higher-vibrational frequency (non-physical) that only pure-hearted believers can access”. She bases her ideas on the aquatic ape hypothesis, which looks at the many similarities humans share with aquatic mammals and which make the human body ideally suited for the water (see “The aquatic ape” below).

Integrating with Nature

Lisa Weiss’ interest in mermaids began back in her college days when she worked with marine animals. Interestingly, she sports long, flowing red hair, sparkling green eyes and has recurring dreams about “people swimming underwater without coming up for air”. In the pool, many young girls enjoy emulating the fluid and graceful movements of mermaids swimming underwater. Virtue, Weiss, and other ‘professional mermaids’ have taken this to a new level by enjoying ‘mermaiding’ in the ocean with their life-like swimmable tails designed especially for this purpose.

“People want to integrate with nature in new ways,” explains Hannah Frazer. “They want to play in the ocean like they are part of it – one of the creatures that belongs there – not just a spectator, but an interactive creature. It is such an ethereal and beautiful activity that connects us to the ocean in a pure and unadulterated way. It’s pure magic to experience.”

“Being a mermaid is the most transcendental feeling,” says Linden Wolberthopes. “Suspended in the ocean’s colours of blue and green, enveloped by warm, clear water, it’s a sensation unlike anything else. It evokes a unique sense of complete adaptation where I am weightless and unencumbered. I crave the infinitely peaceful sensation I feel when I am in the water.” Richardson adds, “The first time I wore a mermaid tail, I felt magical, much like a sea creature, and I felt at one with the sea and my dolphin friends.” She has also had many amazing experiences taking paraplegics, kids with cerebral palsy, people with injuries and fears - even people who don’t know how to swim - in with wild dolphins. “It’s truly touching to help them face their fears and be comfortable in the sea experiencing the magic and beauty of our dolphin friends.”

The aquatic ape

This theory lists significant similarities humans share with aquatic mammals:
* Hairlessness: so we can swim more efficiently
* Subcutaneous fat: providing insulation in cold waters
* Protruding female breasts: for feeding babies while in the water, also aiding buoyancy
* Weeping tears: helping to balance salt levels in the body
* Hair on the head: for children to hold onto while their mothers swim
* Natural skin oils: providing water-proofing
* Controlled breathing: to keep water out of the lungs while diving
* Webbing: between the thumb and index finger, unlike primates; we also have a small amount of webbing between our fingers.

The merpeople realm

Virtue believes that there are people today who exist in the merpeople realm and who share similar characteristics to their fish-like ancestors. “Female merpeople resemble mermaids, with curvy, hourglass figures and a penchant for wearing turquoise-coloured clothing. Mermen look athletic, trim and outdoorsy,” she explains. “Both genders prefer their hair long and with natural, rippling waves.” Through her own survey work, she has identified other characteristics that merpeople of all races share:
* Red tints in their hair and a preference for wearing it long
* Shades of green in their eyes
* The need to live near water, to feel emotionally balanced
* Identifying with mermaids and mermen since childhood
* Having frequent dreams about mermaids
* A preference for holidays in warm, tropical locations and avoiding cold-weather climates
* A profound love for swimming; always being the last to come out of the pool or the ocean

Ocean activism

Many merpeople also volunteer their time and money to support charities or events that protect the oceans, lakes and rivers. They are passionate about preserving the marine ecology and make wonderful teachers in this area, often becoming advocates, activists, marine biologists, ocean ecologists or scuba divers. “Perhaps mermaids have returned to the earth to teach humans a better way of relating to the environment and creating sustainable resources,” suggests Virtue.

Weiss believes that she has received a message with a wake-up call from Mother Earth. “Every living thing is connected. Every action, thought, emotion and word ignites a chain reaction that ripples through the organism of life!” She points to the increasing numbers of dolphins and other marine animals that have been dying due to environmental pollution generating extremely high toxicity levels. Many people are concerned that this could be similarly affecting humans, who share a very similar genetic makeup. “I am concerned that dolphins may be going the same way as unicorns,” Weiss says, “unless we decontaminate the ocean and stop using disruptively loud underwater sonar.”

Richardson agrees, “It’s a mermaid’s duty to show our vital connection to the ocean and all sea life. I believe it’s a call to the human race to wake up and see what we’re doing to our ocean, our planet, und ultimately ourselves.” As well as being a professional mermaid, Frazer is a passionate ocean activist. “The ocean is our life blood. If we mess it up with pollution, overfishing, and killing these incredible species, it’s only a matter of years before the rest of civilisation crumbles. We can’t survive without the ocean. Perhaps mermaids have returned to the earth to teach humans a better way of relating to the environment and creating sustainable resources.”

Through her mermaid work, Wolberthopes hopes to inspire youngsters to take personal responsibility for the ocean’s health. “My heart’s true calling is to share the ocean with children and encourage them to experience it for themselves and to become ambassadors of the most vital 70 percent of our blue planet. The beauty of the sea, its delicate balance, and what it offers to our planet inspires me no end. It is such a nurturing, fascinating and ever-changing place. Personal interaction with the sea and its inhabitants is the perfect way to create a sense of responsibility for our oceans.”

While we may never know whether mermaids were simply products of sailors’ delusions or if these captivating sea dwellers did – and do - physically exist, what is for certain is that it’s vitally important to conserve our environment to ensure we protect the ocean and the living creatures that dwell within it for future generations. Richardson puts it best: “The true meaning of a mermaid lies in her heart, where she holds a pure love for the sea above all else.”