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Monday, 6 October 2014

The Legend of Ne Hwas, the Mermaid

Hi dear friends and followers, welcome to my blog.
Today we share a legend from the Passamaquoddy People of the southeastern portion of the State of Maine. They occupied the area of present-day Bar Harbor to Eastport. There is an interesting commentary by the contributor that follows this brief legend.
The Legend of Ne Hwas, the Mermaid


A long time ago there was an Indian, with his wife and two daughters. They lived by a great lake, or the sea, and the mother told the girls never to go into the water there. If they did, something bad would happen to them.

The girls, however, deceived her repeatedly. When swimming is prohibited, it becomes delightful.

The shore of this place goes way out or slopes to an island. One day the girls left their clothing on the beach and swam out to the island. Their parents noticed that they were gone and set out to look for them.

Their father found them swimming and he called out to them. They were a distance out and began to swim in. They got as far as the sand bottom but could go no further. Their father asked them why they could not come any closer. They cried that they had gotten so heavy that it was impossible. They were all slimy; they grew to be snakes from below the waist. After sinking a few times in this strange slime they became very handsome, with long, black hair and large, bright black eyes, with silver bands on their neck and arms.


When their father went to get their clothes, they began to sing in the most exquisite tones:

Leave them there!

Do not touch them!

Leave them there!

Hearing this, their mother began to weep, but the girls kept on:

It is all our own fault.

But do not blame us;

It will be none the worse for you.

When you go in your canoe,

Then you need not paddle;

We shall carry it along!


And so it was. When the parents went in the canoe, the girls carried it safely on everywhere.

One day some Indians saw the girls' clothing on the beach and so looked for the wearers. They found them in the water and pursued them, and tried to capture them, but they were so slimy that it was impossible to take them, until one, catching a hold of one of the mermaids by her long, black hair, cut it off.


Then the girl began to rock the canoe, and threatened to upset it unless her hair was given to her again. The fellow who had played the trick at first refused, but as the mermaids, or snake-maids, promised, they should all be drowned unless this was done. The locks were restored to their owner.

The next day they were heard singing and were seen, and on she who had lost her hair, it was back and as long as ever.

We may easily detect the hand of Lox, the eMischief Maker, in this last incident. It was the same trick which Loki played on Sif, the wife of Odin.


That both Lox and Loki were compelled to replace the hair and make it grow again – the one on the snake-maid and the other on the goddess - we have to deal with myths which have passed into romances or tales, that which was originally one character becomes many, just as the king who has but one name and one appearance at court assumes a score when he descends to a disguise of low degree and goes among the people.

But when, in addition to characteristic traits, we have even a single anecdote or attribute in common, the identification is very far advanced. When not one, but many, of these coincidences occur, we are, in all probability, at the truth.

Thus we find in the mythology of the Passamaquoddy, as in the Old Norse Edda, the main evil being indulging in mere wanton, comic mischief, to an extent not to be found in the devil of any other race whatever.

Here, in a mythical tale, the same mischief maker steals a snake-girl's hair, and is compelled to replace it. In the Edda, the corresponding mischief maker steals the hair of a goddess and is forced to make restitution. Yet this is but one of many such resemblances in these tales.

It will be observed that in both cases the hair of the loser is made to grow again. But while the incident in the Edda has a meaning, as appears from its context, it has none in the Passamaquoddy tale.

All we can conclude from this is that the Passamaquoddy tale is subsequent to the Norse, or maybe taken from it. The incidents of tales are often remembered when the plot is lost. It is certainly very remarkable that, wherever the mischief maker occurs in these Passamaquoddy tales, he in every narrative does something in common with his Norse prototype.

How this happened is not certain but is has been suspected with some degree of certainty that the Norsemen visited North America long before Columbus.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I do hope you enjoyed the story. Please feel free to share your thought, ideas, and questions with us, they are most much welcome here

ڰۣ❤In Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

L


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