Nenseldë the Wingild, card art for Middle-earth Collectible Card Game by Ted Nasmith.
Mermaids, or water spirits, were creatures only mentioned fleetingly in the earliest versions of the tales of Arda and linguistic writings of the Eldar.
The mermaids were part of what apparently was a three-fold division of the lesser Ainu spirits: sylphs (spirits of the air), sprites (spirits of the earth), and water spirits.
Names and divisions
A basic division of two groups of water spirits, with their Elvish names, are given as follow:
- Oarni (troop of Ossë): “spirits of the sea”
- Falmaríni and Wingildi (troop of Ossë): “spirits of the sea-foam”
Also mentioned are flathwin or -nir ”foam fay”, and nendil, nennil ”waterfay”.
The later legendarium
As the mermaids are not mentioned in later versions of the legendarium, it might be that Tolkien envisioned these creatures as the “servants and helpers” of the Maiar (mentioned in later versions of Elven chronicles) — lesser spirits that would have remained in Middle-earth (and would thus perhaps be equivalent to the Faeries). As Tolkien never cared to elaborate much on these “lesser Maiar” in the texts used by his son Christopher when preparing the published The Silmarillion, one could speculate on how much Tolkien would have retained or rejected of this earlier conception.
Wow, that’s something right there I didn’t know, very interesting. Living and learning.