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Margygr: The Mermaid of Norse Mythology

Margygr Painting image

by Ulf (2020)

Although popularized by the Danish writer Hans-Christian Andersen in his fairy tale, The Little Mermaid. It is not widely known that mermaids have their origin in much older Scandinavian folklore... Called Margygr in Old Norse. The name loosely translates to "to Sea spirit" or "Sea Giantess" as the Nordic conception of natural forces often become personified in the form of powerful supernatural beings, like the forces of nature they represent, The 'Margygr' are sometimes seen as malevolent and violent, other times exceedingly beautiful and helpful — but ALWAYS commanding a sense of reverence, awe, and in many cases outright worship by those that behold them.

The epithet of "Water-wife, as the mermaid has sometimes been called, reflects not only the "intimate" relationship that European man has always had with the sea but also the profound sense of love and respect that our European traditions show to our womenfolk.

The Margygr was most likely worshipped by Viking sailors who would have called upon her like other Disir. In a Pagan Blót ("sacrifice" or "Offering") for a safe voyage at sea; It was not until the forceful introduction of Christianity into Europe, that the mermaid became primarily associated with "Evil" when the church condemned all water-Sprites as "accursed beings" — No doubt due to their connection with Heathen worship.

This gorgeous painting by Ulf shows the 'Margyr' in all her divine glory. Serving as a good omen to the Viking warship that is setting sail. Ulf's masterful hand has left no detail undone. From the meticulous rendering of each scale to the individual planks of the ship — even the subtle veins can be seen in the mermaids fair breasts which drip with rivulets of water!

In her hand the mermaid holds the Vegvisir, while often referred to as a "Viking Compass" it was not believed to be used until AFTER the Viking age — It is depicted here, however, as a symbolic association to the protective and guiding powers which the Margygr of Norse mythology holds. This is the best mermaid painting that we have ever seen and the only painting that we know of that puts the mermaid in her original habitat of the North and this print is only available at Grotti Mill Productions.