Mermaids have a powerful feminine presence in literature and appear in mythology from all over the world. Mermaids in the Mediterranean were regarded as semi-divine aspects of the Goddess connected to the sea and were honored in seaside temples. They can be traced back as far as 1,000 BCE and are described as being wonderfully shaped as a maid from the navel up, with a fish tail below.
During the Middle Ages, Mermaids were regularly sighted by seamen, including Christopher Columbus, who reported seeing three of them on his first voyage to the Americas in 1493. Through the sailor’s tales of Mermaids seducing their lonely peers and dragging them down to their underwater kingdom, the Mermaids got a bad rap. They were also believed to cause storms and shipwrecks, which was reinforced by the medieval Church who viewed Mermaids as a symbol of vanity, lust and the spiritual perils of women embracing their sexuality. Doesn’t seem fair that they are blamed for Poseidon’s temper tantrums, but who are we to say? Maybe it was the ladies and they were having a bad hair day.
This is a cool list of Mermaids and mermaid-type creatures from various cultures that you might like to check out: http://mentalfloss.com/article/75471/9-mermaid-legends-around-world. In the meantime, let me know what Mythical Creatures you are including in your current WIP, or that are prominent in your culture. Would love to hear from you!