Musings: The Seirínes & The Sképseis

Source. Pexels. Zack Jarosz, Photographer

by LJ Frank

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My thoughts strain to hear beyond the ear’s ringing and the syndrome of Meniere’s, a different song and voice, while choosing not to mimic Van Gogh. I am fortunate that my youthful mind allows me to be in other places while my body remains behind, enduring the wrinkles of time.  

Having sailed on ships and driven endless miles on land in circles I know from experience the need to conjure meaning from the earth to which I will return. The ambiguities and myths of life offer a metaphor and make my brief journey a bit more intriguing. When woven together ambiguity and myth are preferred over the unpoetic realities of the day, except when making love.

Myth is shapeshifted over the ages, a vision birthed in the wanting mind of desire and superstition, and from which ancient mariners spoke of exotic, enchanting voices while at sea, emanating from the watery depths. And other sailor’s accounts made note that beguiling calls were heard near islands and such tales were orally passed down through the centuries, perhaps as early as the Pharaonic dynasties of Egypt and ancient kingdoms of China among other places, a few thousand years Before the Common Era (B.C.E.), and up through the Greeks from whom their imagination bore a luxuriant yield to the mythologies of man.

Mermaids or half female and half-fish were allegedly fancied and made a delightful tale, mythologized by true believers, while others had the notion that the mystifying songs were from bird women, and still other mariners more ancient, speculated on the behemoths that prowled the sea seeking to quench their appetite or other oddly shaped sea creatures, spirits and sprites with evocative and fascinating intonations. Much is still yet to be revealed. One questions the connections to the sea – were they merely the genetic results of pre-existing humans where initial cellular learning began?

The tales persisted – from romance, fear, hope and passion, the myths about gods and goddesses, and sirens, the winds whistled and sang like voices amidst the flapping sails. And yet, even when all was quiet at sea and the waves were comparatively lifeless, a sailor noted after coming ashore that his and other sailor’s ears were witnesses to entrancing voices when his ship approached certain islands in the eastern Mediterranean. Alcoves and caves were plentiful at the edges of those islands’ shores where a breeze found expression. And if the ship he was on drew too close to the beckoning cry, the hull would strike boulders and jagged rocks just below the water’s surface. Any sailor would be fortunate to escape alive and make his way to the shore.

Siren’s ancestors may have been birthed from such possibilities and the name appeared to find fruition from the Levant, China, and India and so many other places through human history, the Sirens were for many a seaman a sign of good fortune and for some in Asia the Siren in the form of a mermaid was a chance at redemption and potential eternal life.

The poet Homer in his Odyssey interprets the Seirines or Sirens as female creatures that lures men to their death through their captivating songs and voices. “No seaman ever sailed his black ship … without listening to the honey-sweet tones that flow from our lips and no one who has listened has not been delighted and gone on his way a wiser man.”

Other ancient mariners spoke of as the origin of the Sirens where the island was ruled by women who would sing the praises of their goddess and those songs could be heard by merchants arriving in the natural harbors.

Sirens inspired literature, poetry, song, theater, and the science of the mind along with other aspects of life. And, etymologically, the word Siren evolved into a bewailing cacophony to signal an alert or warning of which we are familiar today – paradigms indeed, shift.

To exist is to appreciate being caressed and inspired by the seductive song and voice of the ever-present Seirines of our thoughts, perhaps instilling a deeper conversation with our heart to experience other places than the one in which our bodies find themselves in, at the moment.