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article imageBooks: Are mermaids the new vampires?

By Abigail Prendergast     Mar 21, 2012 in Entertainment
The classical water-dwelling creatures known as mermaids are reclaiming media attention and taking the place of vampires and werewolves. Myths and folklore about mermaids have been told for thousands of years and some even believe they actually exist.
Just about everybody is aware of the tales that surround the often-striking part woman, part fish creatures known as mermaids. Featured in mythological tomes from across the globe, these water-dwelling beauties have come to take the reins of leading the supernatural being cultural trend which was previously being held by vampires.
According to USA Today, books about mermaids are being released in droves, and even Twilight author Stephanie Meyer informed them about plans to pen a novel about the aquatic beings herself last year.
Mermaids have been making a splash in popular culture since the days of myth and legend, and the first known recorded piece of folklore depicting these sea maidens dates back to around 1000 B.C. In the story, Syrian goddess Atargatis falls in love with a human shepherd, only to kill him - albeit not deliberately. Humiliated and heartbroken, Atargatis jumped into a lake and transmuted into a fish. But since the water was not able to cover up her incandescent, divine beauty, she ultimately donned the form of the mermaid we know today - the human part on top, with the scaly tail and fin below her waist.
In the Arabian tale, The Adventures of Bulukiya, the protagonist of the same name wanders between Heaven and Hell in search of herb of immortality. During his journey, he encounters several societies consisting of the fair water sprites.
Merfolk are also depicted in British, Scandinavian, Chinese and of course, Greek folklore; in the latter culture, mermaids would often utilize their stunning beauty and charm to lure sailors to their deaths. Where as the sirens, similar to mermaids, would use their lush voices to sing and enchant sailors so their ships would crash into rocks and sink.
To some, particularly in Neo-Pagan belief systems, mermaids - along with other magical beings such as gnomes, nymphs and fairies - exist in reality and are known as elementals.
Elementals, as the name implies, are beings ruled by one of the four major magical elements (air, fire, earth and water); they are believed to exist in an omnipresent fashion on an overlapping spirit realm or astral plane. Mermaids and their aquatic contemporaries are water elementals who not only reside in oceans and lakes, but possess abilities native to said element.
In other words, Neo-Pagan religions such as Wicca subscribe to the aesthetic that the four classical elements hold various qualities and can grant various abilities. For example, fire is associated with strong will and high amounts of energy; air is associated with high intellect and concentration; earth is associated with stability and being grounded in reality; finally, water is associated with cleansing, emotions and intuition.
As far as merfolk in popular culture go, however, the media will surely soon be a breeding ground for some the following titles assuming they get to be immortalized in the form of a silver screen adaption:
-- Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando: This is the story about a young girl who discovers her mother's overwhelming desire to transform into a mermaid.
-- Fins Are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs: A young royal mermaid desires to become human, despite having to abandon her status to do so.
-- Lost Voices by Sarah Porter: A story about a young girl who surrenders her human self in order to save her life, thus turning into the classic aqua maiden.
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