Thetis was a powerful mermaid Goddess who contained within her all potential shapes and manifestations. She was the shape-shifting Goddess of the cosmic waves. Much desired by the Gods, Zeus wanted her but was told of a prophecy that the son of Thetis would eventually become greater than his father. Because of this the terrified God arranged for Thetis to marry a mere mortal, Peleus. Thetis refused. Peleus was advised to bind the goddess tightly while she was asleep, in order to prevent her from changing forms. In fear of her life she resisted and was able to shape-shift, turning into flame, and then into water. Still bound she writhed and changed into a hundred different forms and told a hundred different stories, but Peleus was resolute and so in the raging of time she eventually submitted to him. They married, but the marriage of the divine and the mortal is not an easy one and eventually the marriage ceased to be. Before they separated their son, Achilles, was born…And so in a deep cave in the ocean Theits returned to the place of her ancient father, surrounded by her sea sisters, the Nerieds. Emerging from the formless chaos of the cosmic sea to marry Peleus was a journey of dis-empowerment, entrapment grief and loss. Thetis returns to her rightful place, to live within her own agency of being. And beyond this tale through her powerful prophecies and heroic feats, she became a great saviour to many Gods; in particular to Zeus who she saved from a murderous plot. I AM SHAPED
This poem from ‘ The Shape of Water’ by Guillermo del Toro …is possibly an ancient Sufi text, and for me describes this archetype beautifully …..
‘Unable to perceive the shape of you, I find you all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with your love. It humbles my heart, for you are everywhere.’
An alchemical woodcut by Basil Valentine in 1659 depicts The siren of the Philosophers, a common symbol for the ANIMA MUNDI, the Soul of the world. She expresses a stream of milk from one breast and a stream of blood from the other, representing life, death and duality.
Starbucks have successfully used the symbol of the double tailed mermaid
THETIS …..by Carol Ann Duffy ….The Worlds Wife
I shrank myself
To the size of a bird in the hand
Of a man.
Sweet, sweet, was the small song
That I sang
Till I felt the squeeze of his fist.
Then I did this:
Shouldered the cross of an albatross
Up the hill of the sky.
Why? To follow a ship.
But I felt my wings
Clipped by the squint of a crossbow’s eye.
So I shopped for a suitable shape.
Size 8. Snake.
Coiled in my charmer’s lap,
I felt the grasp of his strangler’s clasp
At my nape.
Next I was raw, claw, 50 lb paw,
Jungle-floored, meat eater, raw,
A zebra’s gore
In my lower jaw.
But my gold eye saw
The guy in the grass with the gun. Twelve-bore.
I sank through the floor of the earth
To swim in the sea.
Mermaid, me, big fish, eel, dolphin,
Whale, the ocean’s opera singer.
Over the waves the fisherman came
With his hook and his line and his sinker.
I changed my tune
To racoon, skunk, stoat,
To weasel, ferret, bat, mink, rat.
The taxidermist sharpened his knives.
I smelled the stink of formaldehyde.
I was wind, I was gas,
I was all hot air trailed
Clouds for hair.
I scrawled my name with a hurricane,
When out of the blue
Roared a fighter plane.
Then my tongue was flame
And my kisses burned,
But the groom wore asbestos.
So I changed, I learned,
Turned inside out – or that’s
How it felt when the child burst out.