QUEENS OF THE WAVES by Ocean
"Queen of the Waves", an old French hymn, was sung by nuns and children
in a doomed orphanage while awaiting the hurricaine at the turn of the last century
on the Texas coast - (addressed to Mary, Mother of God, in her sea goddess aspect.)
Much earlier, sailors would sing this same incantation to the sea, hoping to invoke the kind aspect of the sea goddess. Later, she was Christianized into the sweet Mary, mother of God we all know and love.
There is a similarity of all water goddesses - from Kuan Yin to Mary, from Erzulie to Thetis, they all have complex natures, and some are a combination of good and bad. Many began as very ancient Sea Goddesses, and some have changed sex through the cultures.
Many have also crossed the line from outlandish wild woman to become tamed by later peoples into benign and love-bestowing embodiments of compassion, like Kuan Yin, or Mary. Mari, of the sea - get it ?
The flip-sides of lusty/virginal lunar dieties are ever-present if you look far enough back into history, even for the goddy-goodies among them.
One of the most interesting is Erzulie, who is as bad a girl as you could find - and vain to boot !
This dark-skinned personification of beauty itself is always garbed in green sea colors, always taunting and flautning herself, and is so self pre-occupied and heartless, that she makes all other heart-breakers pale in comparison. She revels in her beauty and equally, in her cruelty and power.
Change and mystery are the norms of these sometimes volutuaries, sometimes sea monsters, and fear their stock-in-trade. Well, fear and lust.
Like the twinkling and beautiful sea itself, their allure is tempting to men, but very often, fatal.
The moon is, of course, always tied to cycles, of both sea and female. Ruling the inner tides of women as well as the tides of the great seas, scratch a sea goddess and usually, you also find a lunar diety.
The foremost symbols of the feminine realm, the sea and the moon, are intricately tied, therefore, the night is also seen as a femiine power - a dark power - secretive, seductive, forbidding, and yet intrinsically necessary as the half of the yin-yang whole, needed, dreaded and yearned for by males. The push-pull between the sexes is at play among the mythologies of all cultures.
From bawdy whores to goody-goody imbecilic givers, from tangle-haired sea wraithes to sleek-shanked vixens, the mermaid goddesses all have a haunting quality.
From the seaborn Aphrodite to Kuan Yin, the ocean of compassion, via moon-shadowy maiden, Artemis, these goddesses were nothing to play with.
From Ishtar the mighty, to the crone aspects, these sea sorceresses are sirenic in their splendor, their abilities and powers, and in the heady sensuality with which they plied their trades and exercised their whimsies.
Always, though, fearful aspects remained just below the surface, and any mergoddess could also morph into a great sea monster at will .Other predatory and frightening aspects of their nightmarishness involved the deep sea of sexuality itself.
Sea goddesses reveled in their sexuality and drew men into their nets of vice with their beauty.
The overtly randy ones were scary to men in that they could competely prey o n a male, kill him with mere touch, and play with him as would a cat with small mouse.
The compassionate forms could turn without warning.
Sudden, illogical change is the norm.
None would dare tempt the sea to turn on them, by any disrespect, among seamen,
who, traditionally, never learned to swim.
Why? As a superstition, they sought not to anger the sea goddess who held
their lives in her thrall.
Thus, the presto-chango fear factor of mermaids, the moodiness of the sea
personified, the scariness of sea goddesses and the deep mark of distrust
that goes all through the mariners' tales of old, who would never ever
allow a female on board - she would bring ruin o n them. Deemed as too
unlucky for either shipmates or cargo, wary were the crew-members who'd
have to sail with a female.
Even more superstitions have plagued women throughout history in many cultures - such as sequestering them o n their periods - or even all the time, and imprisoning them.
The perceived depraved and irredemably sexual nature of females had deemed them unable to stop, once turned on - and, in fact, a man is spent after one encounter while a female can conceivably continue with many partners for a long, long time. This ability to go on and on coupled with the discovery long ago that the male actually had something to do with conception of a child made many places begin to lock their women up, cover them up, and to consider them just a necessary evil in life - nothing to be taken seriously or to be listened to- jsut put up with and used for pleasure and breeding and perhaps housecleaning and cooking - nothing more.
And to add insult to injury - we females were considered completely unable to be spiritual. So tied into the natural world, so bound by our own bodies were - are- we seen to be, that we were thought not even to be responsible for our rapacious sexual needs. Therefore, the containment. Bestial, hysterical, and completely wild was the common perception of womankind.
Although in recent decades, men have chosen to take on that wanton reputation - though without physical legitimacy - seemingly in defiance of the realities - in our long human history, it has been the female who was known as the barbaric slave of her sexuality, and the male as the o ne who could tame his senses and use the (male) God-given reasoning ability denied to females.
The war between the sexes has chaned, much like dances evolve during generational chains of styles, and partners change, but the deep suspicions that had o nce kept the sexes apart have been declining, as information grows, but we females must cling to the vestiges of power -however scant - that the goddesses o nce weilded. Thanks to the father gods, the sky gods, who thundered westward along with the herdsmen of ages ago, and took over the territories that the goddesses had o nce ruled, so the men have taken on the role of capriciousness as females bear the stolid burdens of maintaining society, mothering, and being prudes.
But once upon a time, there were the girl goddesses, and the mother ones, and the mermaid remains - child-free, girlish, wanton, powerful, and sensual. Virgin goddesses? A Virgin in those days meant a child-free goddess or woman. Since breeding changes a female forever in so many ways, the pure form was seen as the more powerful and most appealing.
Let's relish the sea goddesses, and enjoy these myths for the history they revere, and enjoy the evolutionary trails that our culture is making even now.
So why was a female on board a ship such a big deal to sailors of older times?
Why? Partially because, as we all know from mythologies throughout the world,
unless the sea happened to be in a great mood that day, attention to another
female was likely to ignite a jealous frenzy, for, like priests in their devotions
to old0time goddesses, seamen belonged, first, to the sea.
Enjoy these tales of old, which still prevail today, and remember -
the misogynistic behaviors and attitudes that still continue in all cultures
and human societies of the planet are actually a homage to our femaleness.
Next time you're the victim of male discrimination, smile knowingly
and give a slight wink before you depart in the best tradition of the powerful
We all once had tails.
We still do have nails.