Tales of Merfolk

Of later mermaid worship..

One is from a North American Indian folktale. It concerns a
vanished light-skinned tribe who adored the statue of a mermaid in
their temple beside the Pascagoula River in Louisiana.
In the year 1539 a Christian priest came to dwell among them,
and tried to turn them from the worship of their mermaid goddess
to Christianity. He had achieved considerable success in this
direction, when, one night, to the sound of rushing waters, the
river gathered itself together in a towering column of waves, on
the summit of which stood a mermaid with magnetic eyes. 

High above the roaring waters rose her song, with the irresistible refrain:
‘Comet o me, comet o me, children of the sea,
Neither bell, book nor cross shall send ye from your Queen.’
It drove the listening Indians first to ecstasy and then to madness,
and one by one they plunged into the river in quick succession,
until the whole tribe had vanished beneath its waters; then the river
returned to its bed.

 

Gwen Benwell, and Arthur Waugh, *Sea Enchantress; the Tale of the Mermaid and Her Kin* (New York: Citadel Press, 1965).

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