What do Mermaids Symbolize?

If one plays with the thought to buy a mermaid piece of jewelry, to let a mermaid tattoo sting or with the lead casting a mermaid poured, the question usually arises which meaning mermaids actually have. I have Mal something researched to collect the different meanings.

Mermaids stand among other things for the connection to the water, femininity, transformation, independence, beauty, love and magic. For sailors, they were also often considered lucky charms.

Mermaid jewelry, tattoos as well as mermaids pouring lead and reading coffee grounds can also take on other very personal meanings. More detailed information about the meaning and origin of the individual associations to the mermaids can be found below.

Symbolic meaning of mermaids

Mermaids are attributed several meanings. I present the most important ones here. All of these meanings are mainly derived from the mermaid myths as well as from literature and movies since these significantly shape our image of mermaids.

I have excluded the meanings for the sirens. Because these are considered devious and dangerous and can not be equated with the mermaids.

Connection to the water / sea

Mermaids are creatures of the sea. Sometimes they are also compared or associated with water goddesses. The Greek water and sea nymphs also guard the waters and seas and thus play an important role in nature.


Mermaids appear in myths much more often than mermaids. This may be because water is often described as a feminine element.

In psychoanalytic dream interpretation, the mermaid is also understood as an archetype of femininity.

Symbol of transformation

In the water a mixed creature with a fishtail and on land in human form with legs. This is how mermaids are usually described. Therefore, they are often seen as a symbol of transformability.

Independence and strength

Moreover, mermaids cannot be tamed against their will. They are free creatures who live self-determined lives. Thus, they can represent the strength and independence of women.

Mermaids are also often depicted with a comb made of fish bones. This comb is an ancient nautical symbol of strength and power over nature. This is because sailors believed that fish bones could be used to control storms on the open sea. Thus, a mermaid and especially a mermaid with a comb can also be understood as a symbol of female strength.


Tales are always about the beauty and grace of mermaids. They move as if weightless in the water and their mermaid tails shine in the most beautiful colors. In addition, they have beautiful voices that can immediately captivate people.

Mermaids are also often depicted with a mirror in their hands. The mirror is a symbol of the moon, because the moon is only visible to us because it reflects the light of the sun. It itself does not shine.

Thus, the mermaid (with mirror) can also be understood as a symbol of self-confidence or self-love, which the mermaid radiates.

Love, sensuality

They are also considered in Greek mythology as descendants of the Greek / Roman goddess of love Aphrodite / Venus.

Most mermaid myths and stories are also about a love story. The most famous example is the fairy tale of the Little Mermaid or Disney’s Arielle.

Magic and mysticism

Mermaids are mythical creatures that have something magical about them. Hundreds of legends and myths surround them. This shows what kind of fascination they have. In addition, they are often attributed magical powers, such as that they have an influence on the water.

Are mermaids good luck or bad luck?

According to the superstitions of many seafarers, mermaids were considered a symbol of good luck. In Greece, for example, there was a belief that sea nymphs would rescue drowning sailors from the water. In addition, mermaids were often placed on the prow of ships as lucky figureheads.

These figures, which were especially popular between the 17th and 20th centuries, usually represented the importance of the ship and had a reference to the ship’s name. However, they were often also considered a patron saint who was supposed to help arrive safely at the port of destination. However, if the figurehead was damaged, this foretold bad luck.

The mermaids were one of the most popular figureheads of all and were, therefore, an important sign of good luck in shipping.

In contrast, sirens were considered to bring bad luck. According to Greek mythology, they attracted sailors with their beautiful songs, only to drag them into the depths of the sea.

What does a mermaid tattoo represent?

Mermaid tattoos also have a long tradition. Because many seafarers had mermaids tattooed since about the beginning of the 20th century. Even today, the mermaid is one of the most popular maritime symbols for tattoos. You often see mermaid tattoos also in combination with other maritime symbols, such as waves, ships, anchors, compasses or starfish.

Similar to the gallant figures, mermaid tattoos also meant to bring good luck to their wearer on the open sea. They were also a symbol of love for the sea and also for women. Around the same time, tattoos of pinup girls also became very popular among sailors.

Today, however, mermaid tattoos can naturally take on any other meanings that you yourself associate with a mermaid. This can have one of the meanings mentioned at the beginning, such as the connection to the sea, the ability to transform, one’s strength and independence. Or symbolize something different, personal.

What does mermaid jewelry stand for?

Most often mermaid jewelry is understood as a symbol of love for the sea. But again, there are no hard and fast rules that define the meaning. It is much more important what you yourself associate with mermaids and what meaning you give them.

If you want to give mermaids jewelry as a gift, you should think beforehand about what they mean to the person to whom you want to give them. Depending on what relationship you have with the person, mermaid jewelry can of course take on different personal meanings. For example, it can represent a vacation together by the sea or love for the other person.

Especially mermaid fin necklaces are often a beautiful symbol of one’s love for the sea and mermaiding.

What do mermaids stand for when casting lead and reading coffee grounds?

Practices like lead casting or coffee grounds reading can be seen as a kind of oracle questioning. This is because the purpose of using these tools is to learn about the future. For all these techniques, however, some imagination is needed. The figures do not have to clearly take the form of something, but it is enough if there is a similarity. Also in the interpretation of the figures, one is very free.

Pouring lead is a popular New Year’s Eve tradition in many countries, which is primarily about the fun of thinking about what the new year has in store for you. Strictly speaking, lead is not allowed to be used nowadays because it is toxic.

Alternatives are pewter casting and wax casting, which work the same way. A piece of pewter/wax is heated on a spoon over a candle until it is melted. Then the melted is quickly dumped into a bowl of ice-cold water where it immediately solidifies into a unique shape. The figure can then be interpreted.

For reading coffee grounds, Turkish coffee is mostly used, as it is finer and figures can be better discerned from it. To do this, you simply drink your coffee as usual and then take a closer look at the leftover coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup.

Here you can see a picture of how a mermaid can look when pouring lead. However, there are many other shapes possible that can look like a mermaid. In this case, the mermaid has been interpreted to mean that a trip to the sea may be imminent.

One can also interpret that one has a longing for the sea. Or it is about the fact that one will get to know the second side of oneself in the future, in reference to the two sides of the mermaid. Sometimes a mermaid is also interpreted as seduction or a false offer.

If you can’t think of anything suitable at all, you can also find lists of meanings on the Internet about what the figures could mean when pouring lead or reading coffee grounds. There one finds however usually only such phrases as “something does not seem like it is” or “one is tempted or can be tempted to something”.

These interpretations rather go back to the sirens of Greek mythology, which attracted sailors to kill them, so that one, therefore, had to be careful of them. However, since mermaids are positive figures, you should not limit yourself to such meanings.

Anyway, the most fun is to make up your own meaning and think about what the mermaid could have to do with your own life.

Conclusion about mermaid meanings

Mermaids have certain symbolic meanings such as connection to water, femininity, transformation, etc. They are also often seen as a symbol of good luck in seafaring.

Mermaid tattoos and jewelry can represent all of these meanings or take on a personal meaning.

When it comes to interpreting oracles like pouring lead and reading coffee grounds, one’s circumstances are the key point to interpreting mermaids.

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