ATARGATIS, Mermaid Goddess


close up of mermaid goddess

Right now, more than ever, there is a major influx of Mermaid culture, popularity, and merchandise. There are sparkly, fish-tailed ANYTHING: books, lunchboxes, toothpaste, clothing, costumes, birthday parties decorations and as well as mermaid tails to wear in the pool.  Even the hashtag #mermaid has over 11 million posts!!

Some might blame Disney, for this popularity, although their movie premiered 30 years ago.  (And it is exciting that a WOMAN OF COLOR will portray a live action version in an upcoming movie of The Little Mermaid!). But I think the fascination with mermaids is much, much older (and deeper) than that.
Mermaids and mermaid tales have existed for thousands of years in every culture and continent.  There were even temples build for a mermaid Goddess they called, “The First Mermaid”, ATARGATIS.
“Atargatis was Goddess of the moon, feminine powers and WATER. She was worshiped 4000-3000 years ago in ancient Assyria and later on all over Mediterranean”, According to

Atargatis was a Goddess who fell in love with a mortal man.  When they were making love and conceived their daughter, Semiramus, he sadly drowned.  She gave birth to Semiramus on the shore and in mourning him, threw herself into the waters to end Her life.  The other Gods loved and therefore rescued Her, leaving Atargatis with a fish tail and ability to breathe under water so that She would survive.

Doves and fish are Atargatis’ SACRED SYMBOLS, priestesses and followers dared NOT eat either, but cherished them along with HER.”Atargatis was worshiped in a temple dedicated to her in the ancient city of Ascalon in Israel..Her temple was completely made of gold and there was a giant statue of Atargatis also made from pure GOLD AND DIAMONDS. There was pool in the temple and the worshipers of Atargatis had to swim through the pool to get into the altar. 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.” writes She was known as the Great Mother Goddess of Fertility on Earth and in water. “During the Roman Era, she was worshiped at the shrine in Hieropolis, and had multiple temples dedicated to Her. At Her temples were ponds containing Her sacred fish that only her priests were allowed to touch. Supposedly the fish knew their own names and would come when called. They even wore jewels and would snuggle up to people like a pet. In Her day, worshipers would immerse themselves in Her sacred waters to offer praise.”

The fishpond of fish sacred to Atargatis survives at Şanlıurfa, the ancient Edessa, its mythology transferred to Ibrahim. Wikipedia

The Cult of Ataragatis covered Greece, Rome and even Great Britain.  An Assyrian, Goddess, She is also called, “Dea Syriae” and Syria, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea is named for Her.  

Atargatis’ daughter, Semiramus (meaning DOVE), became the Goddess Queen of Assyria and the Ancient Wonder of the World, the HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON were attributed to Her.  As stated in Wikipedia: “The construction of the Hanging Gardens has also been attributed to the legendary queen Semiramis, who supposedly ruled Babylon in the 9th century BC, and they have been called the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis as an alternative name.” 

Some sources say that She was also imprinted in the sky as double fished-constellation, Pisces, some say Atargatis is the Babylonian constellation, Piscis Austrinus, which was first catalogues by Ptolemy. (

Today the oceans have trash islands and the sea life is in great danger of becoming completely extinct in our lifetime.  We need ATARGATIS’ power, Grace, forgiveness and healing.
To honor Atargatis and to bring fertility into any area of your life.  Notice doves and sea life with reverence.  Sit in a body of water and feel your connection with it, breathe deeply and ask your heart’s deepest desires be filled.  Thank Her by befriending her sacred symbols, maybe even take them treats and pray for them!

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Ancient Atargatis Coin

Our mysterious and magnificent mermaid model, Rosa, now joins the ranks with the other Goddess Project SUPER models. You might remember her as Rosa Parks ( ) and originally portraying Egyptian Scorpion Goddess, Selkhet ( ). We are delighted and grateful she shared her power and beauty with us once again in our first underwater shoot, shot by her consort in real life, Tim. (Find him  @sevenfoldphotography on Instagram.) Thank you, Tim, for this and your digital magic!
This is what Rosa had to say about portraying, Atargatis:

“My very first mermaid memory was definitely Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”. I remember seeing it for the very first time as a young four year old, and there was just something so magical about being under water that I would watch the movie at least once a day for years. Years!” 

“I’ve always been drawn to mermaids because there is just something so captivating about being able to swim and maneuver through water that just makes me feel so fluid (haha) and free. I’ve always considered myself a mermaid because of my connection with water. There is just so much depth to water, and everything associated. Transformation happens in water. We gestated in water. There are different types of bodies of water, all which have their own unique characteristics, yet are ultimately the same. Water can be calm, water can be fierce, water is deep and so mysterious. There is so much going on beneath the surface of water that people have no idea about. Being a mermaid allows you to explore all of these depths, intensities, fluidities, calmness, and transformations with ease and wonder. I feel my most feminine in or near water and associate my innermost being with it. It’s where I transform, grow, connect. I am one with water, I am water… powerful enough to drown you, soft enough to cleanse you, and deep enough to save you.”

“I was absolutely ecstatic to be able to live out my mermaid fantasies in real life by portraying Atargatis. It’s a bucket list item I can finally check off for sure! Being able to see yourself captured in your element is something of the marvelous because you see yourself through another’s perspective for a change. Being a mermaid for a day is a memory I will cherish forever, though really, I am a mermaid everyday and always.” 

“I think females are entranced by the mermaid image because they are just so mesmerizing. They live in the depths of the ocean. They’re mysteriously sexy. They have this captivating essence about them that just leaves you in awe. Who wouldn’t be drawn to them?”

Special thanks to Tiinia Auler for special effect mermaid makeup, find her on Instagram @tiiniadolly.

Thank you, also, to Rainbow Goddess ( ) and Her family for use of their saltwater mermaid lagoon!

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