The main character of today’s story is a mythological creature, which has fascinated all of the populations around the Mediterranean for thousands of years: a mermaid, worrying about what man is doing to her sea. We thank Angela Iannarelli, a friend from our Community, for writing this piece for us.
“Wearily Jason prayed the Gods. He prayed for himself and for his fellow travellers. They had been sailing for a long time now without stopping. While he prayed, he glimpsed some light. Land. A strip of land. The whitest of pebbles reflected sunrays as if they were precious stones. Attracted by that light, Jason and the heroes who had followed him in search of the golden fleece landed on a small beach along the coast of Ethalia, which they called Argon in honour of their vessel. As soon as they touched upon land, some drops of the Argonauts’ sweat fell on those pebbles, forever staining the immaculate white of those stones to remind men that they had been trodden upon by heroes and demigods.”
This has been recounted. This is what poets and historians decided to remember. Though they weren’t there. They saw me asleep on the beach they saw the shine of my lucent skin and of my majestic wings. It was my mistake, brought on by the arrogance of someone who had lived for thousands of years in the World and on this island, MY island, always escaping the cruel, prying gaze of men. Creatures like me scared humans, indeed we only encountered some of them – sometimes – carefully selected by intelligence and ambition, or just by curiosity. I had been flying over the northern coast, dive-fishing in the clear waters for the whole night, so I had let myself be lulled to sleep by the warmth of the sun and the whisper of waves on the shore. That so very candid tract of beach was amongst my favourite places. I did not perceive the presence of the ship, nor of its sailors until they attacked me. It is my blood that forever stained the white pebbles of my beach. Humans destroy what they do not understand what they do not know and what they instinctively fear. The Other the alien the different from oneself therefore becomes the Monster the Danger to be destroyed, Evil. I am an immortal creature. They could not kill me but wound me mutilate me force me to escape in order to avoid destroying them myself this was in their power. Neither did they understand that I could have annihilated them all yet I chose to let them live through mercy.
Since then I live hidden in the underbelly of the island. Of this island I am its Breath. The Mother, the Root.
My silent voice my imperceptible song is its Life, everything which makes it flower and which makes everything enchanted. My song is the thread I use to sew the net which captures forever the hearts of travellers, filling their minds with nostalgia recalling to their minds everything beautiful my Elba can offer. Not only the beaches the transparency of its waters its colours its scents the iridescent rocks and the mines full of hidden treasures. What I emplace in their heads is a promise of happiness and lightness which will always bind them to me and recall them to me. Few mortals I encountered, though I touched the Destiny of many. The emperor I hosted during his exile or the writer who transformed my voluntary confinement in the most beautiful story of vengeance and redemption ever written. I welcomed the unhappy Princess Alba and her valiant knight in name of the goddess Aphrodite, and still I hear her screams. I followed the ships of pirates and bloodthirsty corsairs. I “stole” Spanish canaries on a whim, populating the island with them to enrich my song further.
I could carry on and on in an infinite list. My Time on this world is ending because not much time is left for this world. The mortals have managed to annihilate the Beauty of creation, destroying it and decreeing their own end.
For centuries I have watched what you call Progress destroy your own and our own home. There are no heroes or Gods left. The sea has become the temple of waste.
The new temples are made of plastic. I wait in my vault and until then I will let my myself by lulled by this sea where I lived and saw the Earth being born, prospering from its creation until today. Sometimes I hear the cry of my sisters reach me carried by the winds, those winds we dominate and of which we were mistresses when humans believed we blew against their sails, to make their ships sink so we could banquet on their flesh. Legends around our existence always made me smile.
Σειρῆνες, Sirenes or Sirēnae half bird half fish demons. Creatures of air or water. Beautiful virgins or greedy tarts, devouring men seduced by our song or blinded by our beauty. Muses of poets guardians of the deceased’s souls in the afterlife or beautiful victims of tragic love stories.
Everything written and narrated about us is true and false at the same time.
Angels and Demons because we are different just like humans are. Not all heroes all saints all killers. We fell upon this world when it was still Paradise on Earth and no human trod its soil. We saw all sorts of creatures live and die rise and fall and the Earth maintaining its unchanging infinite beauty. Until the appearance of the most dangerous species: human beings. Born from mud and made of mud and faeces, they dominated every other species, even humbling us immortals because of the fascination they feel towards us since the origin of time, which at the same time binds us as well. In an obscure, unstoppable dance. We could have chosen to return to those stars from which we fell, but nothing seems of more value to us than this world whose fate we observe. Bound to the waters from which we obtain nutrition and strength, to the seas we have inhabited for millennia and which we uselessly strive to save from the destructive ferocity of mankind, we could not be anything other than the mythological creatures imagined by human fantasy anymore. Though what does it matter? We have chosen Earth and the blue of the skies reflecting in the waters enveloping it as our own home, and no other world could substitute these scents which are now part of our own being. I am a Mermaid, a Siren. I am one of the Immortals. My name is Lìgeia. You will hear my name whispered by the wind every time you will navigate towards my Ilva my Aethalia my Elba where the sea encloses all of my essence.