Syrena is the mermaid guardian of the city of Warsaw. Syrena, which means “mermaid,” is the daughter of Baltyk, King of the Baltic Sea. Once, pursued by some fishermen, she swam quickly and desperately. When she finally felt safe, she surfaced to look around and get her bearings: she found herself at the mouth of the Vistula River and fell in love with the landscape. Since then it’s been her home. According to legend, it was she who first convinced people to found the city of Warsaw.
Syrena is the subject of many legends. A man who once saw her in the river without getting a really good look presumed that she was a drowning woman, so he jumped in to save her. Syrena allowed him to carry her to shore. When he saw her tail, he realized his error and gently carried her back to the water. Syrena was so amused and touched by his consideration that she rewarded him with a lifetime of wealth and good fortune. She is the emblem of the city.
Syrena is usually a classical mermaid: a woman above the waist and a fish below. However she is sometimes described as being half woman and half water snake similar to the earliest incarnations of Ezili and Mami Waters.
Syrena appears on Warsaw’s coat of arms. Statues of the mermaid appear throughout the city. She has also appeared on Polish stamps. An older version of Warsaw’s coat of arms displayed an armed male dragon. It’s theorized that this is Syrena’s father or another close relative.
Sword and shield
Herb or fruit infused Polish vodka, Polish fruit brandy and Polish pastries, as well as jewelry, hand mirrors; hair combs and ribbons.
Ezili; Mami Waters; Mermaid; Siren; Sirène, La
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.