Atargatis the first Mermaid
Mermaids can be found from every culture and from all continents. There once was a goddess who is believed to be the inspiration to all the mermaid's stories that have been told around the world for thousands and thousands of years. This goddess was Assyrian goddess Atargatis.
Atargatis was the goddess of the moon, feminine powers and water. She was worshipped 4000–3000 years ago in ancient Assyria and later on all over the Mediterranean.
Stories how Atargatis became a mermaid are quite sad. According to the myth, Atargatis fell in love with a mortal shepherd called Hadad and they had a daughter called Semiramis. Semiramis, later on, became queen of Assyria. She was most well -known for creating the famous hanging gardens of Babylonia.
Atargatis accidentally caused the death of Hadad. She could not live with her guilt and drowned herself into a lake near Ascalon. Waters, however, could not hide her beauty and she was transformed into a mermaid. A woman with a tail of a fish. Story of Atargatis is one of the first mermaid stories ever told.
Atargatis was worshipped in a temple dedicated to her in the ancient city of Ascalon in Israel. It was told that her temple was completely made of gold and there was a giant statue of Atargatis also made from pure gold and diamonds. There was a pool in the temple and the worshipers of Atargatis had to swim through the pool to get into the altar. The pool was filled with living fishes that were fed daily and taken care of. Fishes and doves were sacred animals to Atargatis. Dove was an emblem of love and fish a symbol of fertility and bounty.
Cult of Atargatis travelled all the way to Greece and Rome and even British isles with Roman invaders. The Greeks called her Derceto and Romans called her Dea Syriae the Assyrian goddess.
In ancient Greece myth of Atargatis was connected to the constellation of Pisces. According to the Greek myth, an egg fell from the skies into the Euphrates river. A fish pushed the egg to the shore and goddess Derceto hatched from it. Derceto asked god Zeus to knowledge the help of the fish and Zeus created the constellation of Pisces to the skies. Star formation which represents two fishes.
Atargatis is a Semitic word. She was called Athtart by the Phoenician. This might explain why she is often confused with Astarte, Babylonian goddess of sex and war. Atargatis is a very different goddess. She is an aspect of the Universal Mother and her life-giving waters.
The story of Atargatis takes us to the roots of mermaid stories and legends. Water is the element of emotions. Atargatis went through a transformation because of a broken heart. Till to this day image of a mermaid contains the same elements which goddess Atargatis possess. Healing powers of water, the beauty that can not be hidden, the magic of womanhood and connections to the moon, waves and emotions.
Sometimes waters can feel scary and threatening. We don´t know what mysteries lie within the deep. Atargatis is the goddess of transformation who guides her followers to face their fears and their darkest selves so that they can love and appreciate all that they are.
If you enjoy reading my content, consider subscribing to my feed. Also, if you are not a Medium member and you would like to gain unlimited access to the platform, consider using my referral link right here to sign up. It’s $5 a month and you get unlimited access to my articles and many others like mine. Thanks
Originally published at https://www.fairychamber.com.