Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Forest Mermaid

I've realised that in all the time I've been using this name, I haven't properly explained what a forest mermaid is, or what it was supposed to mean. 

The Forest Mermaid came to me in the middle of the night. I was lying awake, worrying about the future, and trying to think what it was that "defined" me. "The Forest Mermaid" floated into my head, and although it didn't make sense at the time it seemed perfect. I drifted off to sleep, and by the time I woke the next morning, The Forest Mermaid was starting to make a lot of sense.

I'd recently stumbled across the concept of rusalki, Slavic water nymphs that live in forest rivers and pools, and are meant to spend part of the year in the trees. They are, basically, forest mermaids. Their folklore is confusing and has a certain duality to it. Originally they were pagan fertility symbols, coming out of the water in spring and bringing hydration and nourishment to the crops. But there are also versions of their folklore that suggest they were originally wronged women, who drowned themselves or were drowned, to be reborn as a rusalka. It's a common theme in older mermaid folklore,and is echoed in the Brazilian legend of the mermaid Iara. I loved the imagery of a rebirth through trauma, the water transforming them into something powerfully magical. As someone in recovery from trauma, it was something I very much recognised in my own life.

The more I thought about it, the more the name seemed to sum up what I wanted and who I was. I've always been drawn to water, from the wild waves of beaches to waterfalls in the woods. But I am also drawn to forests, earth, fungi, and woodland creatures. I have always had frequent comparisons to mermaids and otherworldly creatures. All of the influences I had woven together over the years-Rackham's Undine, Waterhouse's Hylas and the Nymphs, all those wistful Pre-Raphaelite women-seemed to make perfect sense under this name.

The Forest Mermaid also speaks to me of the in between places. The places in the woods, at the edge of the water, where the veils are thin and worlds overlap. The places which are not quite one thing or the other. The places where reality takes on an air of fantasy. I myself am not entirely one thing or the other, an in between person who doesn't completely fit with this world. I am The Forest Mermaid.

I want The Forest Mermaid to be a little like those in between places. A place where I can express myself, share the magic, but also talk about some darker things sometimes. A place where I can reach out to the others who don't quite fit with this world. A place for the power of creativity, the wonder of nature, and a lot of magical soul sparkle.


  1. Utterly love this Polly and can't wait to see where you take your blog! xxx

  2. This is such a wonderful post, and I'm so happy that you are getting back to that influence! <3

  3. Adored this post Polly! So beautifully written and it definitely encompasses what I've come to expect from your blog. I loved the bit of folklore you added in here too, so cool! Beautiful photos as well. - Tasha