Lasiren, Haitian Mermaid

Kate Farrell (author of Story Power) shows love for the mermaid goddess of Leserin and her spiritual power over the sea.

FACT OR LEGEND

The Haitian mermaid, Lasiren, has a long tradition and plays an important role in the religious Haitian Vodou beliefs to this day. Many Haitian people frequently report on social media platforms like Twitter that they or their relatives saw mermaids in Haiti themselves.

This is fascinating because it demonstrates that the Haitian mermaid tradition is more alive than many other mermaid myths in different parts of the world. Research on mermaids in Haitian culture and their history shows enduring beliefs about the Haitian mermaid Lasiren (also called Lasirn, Lasirènn, La sirène).

The Haitian Mermaid is an Ocean Queen

Haitian mermaids are connected to one specific female Haitian water spirit called Lasiren. In Haitian folklore, Lasiren is the queen of the ocean and the maritime version of the spirits of love and beauty.

This mermaid queen is thought to live in a luxurious palace underwater but also comes to the surface regularly where she can be seen by humans. She is worshipped mainly in the form of a mermaid. Because of this connection to the ocean queen, when a mermaid is sighted in Haiti, it is often thought to be Lasiren.

It is however not quite clear if there are several different mermaids or if it’s all the same mermaid that people see. Some people say, there are actually many mermaids in the waters around Haiti. Some art also suggests that there is more than one by depicting several mermaids.

Lasiren Has Many Looks

Lasiren is known as the beautiful mermaid of Haiti. But there is not one specific description of what she exactly looks like, except that it is often said that she has long black hair. Most often she is depicted as a mermaid with a fishtail. Sometimes she is depicted as a beautiful human woman as well.

Agwé is Lasiren’s consort and the king of the ocean. Besides her consort, Lasiren is also known to have an affair with Ogou, who is the Lwa of war and power. This affair frequently leads to conflicts between the two male Lwas.

She Represents the Divine Feminine

In Haitian mythology, Lasiren represents the three faces of the feminine together with her two sisters Danto and Freda. The three faces of the feminine are mother, lover and goddess. Danto symbolized the calm and strong woman who is under control: the mother. Freda represents the sexy, passionate and temperamental side of the feminine: the lover. Lasiren, as the ocean queen, symbolizes the mystical and spiritual aspect of a woman.

Song to Lasiren

“The mermaid, the whale,
My hat falls into the sea.
I caress the mermaid,
My hat falls into the sea.
I lie down with the mermaid,
My hat falls into the sea.”

The line “my hat falls into the sea” stands for the feeling of getting such a sudden insight from Lasiren because the sea represents intuition and the unconscious. So, it basically means that your head (with hat) suddenly is being pulled into the ocean of intuition by Lasiren. Quite a beautiful way of thinking about insights. This again emphasizes Lasiren’s spiritual powers.

Lasiren’s Mirror Has Special Meaning

Like sirens in Europe, Lasiren also often carries a comb and a mirror, as a sign of vanity that is connected to her beauty. She is sometimes referred to as the Lwa of vanity because she is known to be concerned about her appearance.

But there is also another meaning behind the mirror: It helps to see and understand yourself more clearly because it can represent a sort of portal between the conscious and unconscious world. Thus she also expresses self-love.

The Haitian Mermaid Has Strong Ties to African Water Goddesses

Lasiren came to Haiti with the African people who were forcefully brought by the colonizers of America. She is often described as the Haitian version of the African water spirits Mami Wata or Yemaja.

Both of them share many similarities with Lasiren and are also worshipped as spirits in various parts of Africa and America. What is special about Lasiren is that she has both African as well as European influences.

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Sources: https://www.sevenseasmermaid.com/

Alexander, Skye (2012) Mermaids: The Myths, Legends, and Lore.

Cappucci, John (2015) Vodou Encyclopedia: Magic, Ritual, and Religion.

Video about Lasiren by a Haitian: Ted Vodou on Youtube.


Story Power by Kate Farrell

Story power

Secrets to Creating, Crafting, and Telling Memorable Stories

Stories are everywhere. The art of storytelling has been around as long as humans have. And in today’s noisy, techy, automated world, storytelling is not only prevalent—it’s vital. Whether you’re interested in enlivening conversation, building your business brand, sharing family wisdom, or performing on stage, Story Power will show you how to make use of a good story.