Mermaid Symbolism and
A Mermaid's Tale
by Amanda Adams
This entire book is about mermaid symbolism and it's affect on Amanda Adams life. Here is a brief review and, to cut right to the conclusion, I highly recommend it.
Joseph Campbell strongly encouraged people to look to myths to find the answers to life's questions. He said that the symbolism they contained would lead us to a better understanding of ourselves, the world we live in, and our place in that world. In her book Amanda Adams tells us how her life has been shaped by mermaid symbolism.
I will tell you something about symbols that most people don't know. People think of symbols and symbolism as something abstract and intellectual. Nothing could be further from the truth. We react to symbols on an emotional, gut level. Consider how upset people are when they see a flag burned. This act is entirely symbolic. No one is much bothered by the thought of fire damage to a piece of fabric.
For Amanda Adams, mermaid symbolism is like this: direct and immediate. As a child she dove into waves at the seashore waiting for the magic to come and change her legs to a tail. She heard the siren's call in the sound of the surf...
But the mermaid is not just fun and fancy to her...
When her first boyfriend broke up with her she was devastated. She mooned around for days as young girls do, feeling rejected and unattractive. Then she heard a song on MTV with the lyric "But what if I'm a mermaid..." and it all came flooding back. In her own words, "Every sadness and uncertainty passed."
In her book she talks of how she met other women for whom the mermaid was also a powerful symbol. The mermaid for them, though, was somewhat different. For one the mermaid meant lush sexuality and the confidence to seduce the men she chose. For another the mermaid was a mother figure. This last came as a surprise for Adams. Up till then she had always pictured the mermaid as a loner, relying on no one and no one relying on her.
This caused an important change in Adams thinking. She now saw the nurturing side of the mermaid. How the mermaid symbol had nurtured her for years growing up. She also began to feel the need to do some nurturing herself.
This brings us to the last part of the book.
It comes to an uncertain ending because Adams herself is not sure how things will turn out. The book starts with Adams in the bath on her wedding day and is really a long reverie about the mermaid journey that has led her to that day. It ends with her marriage and her uncertainty about matrimony.
An important part of mermaid symbolism, for Adams, was that the mermaid is unattainable. She might play with men but she never became seriously involved with one...
The mermaid, however, is also a seductress. To seduce she must become attainable. To become attainable physically is also to become attainable emotionally, and so she risks rejection.
Adams, on this special day, was feeling the poignancy of her situation. Now a large part of her happiness is dependent on someone else.
In the end, Adams knows that she has something she can depend on.
"...Even wedded, I would remain as inspired by the sea enchantress as ever," she concludes.
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