Interview with a Water Priestess – Una the Mermaid

Interview with a Water Priestess – Una the Mermaid January 11, 2024

Hello Readers!

I am back with another installment in the “Interview with a Water Priestess” series! This time with Una the Mermaid! Be sure to read below to learn more about her magical path, her work as a professional mermaid, and in environmental justice! If you would like to hear from more Water Priestesses and immerse yourself in their wisdom be sure to check out the 2024 Water Priestess Confluence! Registration is open and we have announced our Keynote Speakers! We are projecting 35+ additional speakers! You do not want to miss out on their watery wisdom! Click here to learn more and keep reading to learn all about Una!

Una the Mermaid - Submitted by Una
Una the Mermaid – Submitted by Una

What is your name and where do you live?

Shello! My name is Una the Mermaid and I currently live in Portland Oregon. I was born in Honolulu Hawaii and spent my early childhood in Oahu. I often like to say I was born in water, and the Ocean is and remains my home. Hawaiian culture and values have deeply shaped my upbringing and my perspectives on human relationships with land and water. These values are the spiritual guidelines that influence my practice as a water priestess. I work diligently to carry the spirit of Aloha with me in all that I do.

Can you tell us about your background and any training you may have done to prepare for this role?

I am an individual practitioner and follow a solitary path of spiritual development and growth. My primary teacher has been nature herself. As a survivor of great trauma, I began the very personal Shero’s journey in my early twenties. My life has been one long road of conducting shadow work and engaging in the transmutation of energy for self-healing and recovery. In addition to my personal journey of enlightenment, I also pursued an academic career focused on the psychology of transformation. I hold a Master’s degree in conflict resolution, and Ph.D in psychology with a focus on transpersonal experiences, moral development, and restorative justice. I have also been a longtime activist and advocate of social and environmental justice.

What is your path? How does it relate to your Water caretaking?

This is a complicated question, as I feel my path is ever evolving and I am always in a place of self-discovery. The start of the pandemic greatly altered my life path. Before 2020, I was more of a part-time mermaid, water priestess, and full-time prison educator working in the state prison system. Although I found my work deeply fulfilling in many ways, it did not allow me enough time or space to pursue my other passions. The prisons shut down in 2020 and I was furloughed from work. After suffering a minor stroke at the end of 2019 which left me partly disabled, I was very medically fragile during the height of the pandemic. Even when things finally began to re-open in 2021, I was not in a position to return. While this transition has been difficult for me, I have now found myself as a full-time mermaid and water priestess and part-time professional consultant. I am in a much better position to pursue more of my spiritual and artistic crafts.

How do you think your path brought you here into this specific role?

I believe I incarnated onto Earth to serve as a teacher and spiritual healer. I have long felt I have unfinished spiritual business here, and while I did not choose the adversity I have faced in this life, my inner strength has allowed me to overcome and persist in spite of those things. I have found that the universe historically reorganizes itself to bring me onto the path I was meant to follow. The pandemic is one example of how I was forced into better alignment with my true purpose. I believe my purpose encompasses a variety of tasks which include the teaching of water wisdom for inner healing, relational healing, and social and environmental justice, as well as expressing divine energy through the manifestation of play (mermaiding).

Do you identify as a well-maiden, Priestess, Caretaker, or Witch?

I am not particularly comfortable with any of these terms as they tend to come with stigma and/or misunderstood meanings by those in mainstream culture. Some of these terms are also guided by ego, rather than any true assessment of where one may fall along their spiritual developmental journey. I am all of these things and none of these things. If I had to identify, I suppose I would more closely align with the terms sea priestess and otherkin.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, otherkin refers to those who do not identify as human. Although I acknowledge and recognize that I am having a human experience in a human body, my spiritual DNA is not human, it is ‘other’. A mermaid is the closest archetype within the human lexicon that most can understand and it comes closest to my spiritual nature. Mermaid is how I typically identify, though I am really something else entirely. Otherkins incarnate onto Earth for a variety of reasons. Often it is purely for the opportunity to have a material experience; for others like myself, we have come to help humanity progress in its collective soul evolution.

What brought you to this sacred water path?

My inner knowing. My inner being. For most humans ‘water’ as it pertains to magic and mysticism is taken quite literally. The physical element of water is indeed quite sacred, and worthy of honoring and celebration! All physical life depends on it. However, the element of water is merely a physical manifestation of a certain form of energy existing as a part of the fabric of the cosmos. As the saying goes, ‘As above so below’… Water in energy form is the substance that connects all energetic forms together and comprises the great cosmic sea. Just as physical water flows and connects all things to the physical ocean. This is the element I work with; this is the element from which I originate. Physical water is one vessel that carries this energy. As a mermaid from the cosmic sea my sacred water path has been to help humans understand the nature of reality as a means for healing and transformation. Energy is the true form. My sacred water path involves the transmutation of energy leading to higher vibrational frequencies in an effort to evolve consciousness. Mermaids, undines, and other water beings are those that reside and exist within the primordial energy of water.

What humans do not realize is how unbelievably significant their personal reality is to the collective reality of Earth and beyond. Physical reality is the space where thought evolves and then is made manifest into reality… All reality. This reality can become a pleasant dream or a nightmare depending on who is doing the dreaming. When the cosmic sea becomes polluted with uncontrolled fear and nightmares the nature of physical reality and experience becomes endangered. We exist in a delicate spiritual ecosystem centered within the cosmic sea, not unlike how the quality of life on Earth depends on the health of the physical ocean and its ecosystems within. All ecosystems require balance. Humans sometimes refer to this form of spiritual balance as “Heaven”. Contrary to what some may have been taught to believe, “Heaven” is not a static state of existence after death, it is a vibrational reality made manifest on the physical plane. This spiritual balance is achieved when a divine balance is struck between all faculties of the 5 elements: Earth (material/connection), Air (reasoning), Fire (desire), Water (emotion), and Spirit (will). This balance creates harmony between emotional and physical states and allows for the natural order of things to be sustained. There are many beings incarnating on Earth who are manifestations of each of these elements to help bring the Earth into balance.

Were you drawn to the energy? Was it spirit-led?

I am no more drawn to water than humans are drawn to the air they breathe. It is simply a part of me. I am incomplete without it. After incarnation into this body and experience, I carried with me a form of spiritual memory. A deep knowing carried in the center of my being that acts as an inner compass to bring me into alignment with my purpose. Though I may not always be consciously aware of my exact purpose. This inner knowing guides me and continues to guide me.

Can you tell us a little bit about the history of finding your path?

My path has always been the sacred water path. The challenge has been the soul amnesia otherkins often face after incarnating into this realm. It has taken me time to rediscover myself. My family within the realm of water has helped me to remember, as well as the otherkins in my soul group who have incarnated along with me. I was born in Honolulu Hawaii, and as a young human child spent the majority of my time in the ocean, with sea life. This was my first memory clue, as my time in Mother Ocean stirred deep intuition and wisdom of the past. Since I was a toddler, I have always known that I was different, and not truly “from here”. It would take years to discover my true nature. I moved to the mainland when I was 10 years old. Leaving the comfort of the ocean, I developed a deep sense of spiritual dysphoria. It would take many synchronicities, hints, and “chance” encounters to reconnect me with Mother Ocean. Most of my journey work up until now has been to unlearn any and all human conditioning which has limited my capacity to live authentically. This process of unlearning has involved many painful experiences and relationships. But most importantly it has been a process of letting go of all people, things, and situations that do not serve my spirit purpose.


Una the Mermaid - Submitted by Una
Una the Mermaid – Submitted by Una

How did you find out about Mermaiding? What drew you to this type of practice?

I always connected to mermaids and all things water. However, I did not come to learn about the ability to physically transform into a mermaid until my 30’s when I happened upon the sight of a mermaid performing at a Faerie Festival, I believe in 2010. This mermaid instilled in me a great sense of childlike wonder and magic. I knew right there and then I wanted to be a mermaid! The moment I saw her, I remembered who I was. Seeing her inspired me to embrace more fully what I already felt within. Not all people who swim, or perform as mermaids identify as otherkin, but many of us do. For me, the prosthetic tail is an important aspect of living in alignment with my true spirit. Mermaiding is also a valuable tool in connecting and communicating messages of water to humankind. It is also a powerful tool of transformation and teaching the value of creativity and play as a form of transpersonal healing.

Do you have a Sacred Body of water you tend? Please introduce us to this place.

Generally speaking, the majority of magical workings I do involve Mother Ocean. I often take trips to various locations along the Oregon, and Washington coastline. When I go to the Ocean, I engage in what I call ‘Big Magic’ or ‘Big Healing’. The Ocean is a great conduit for physical rejuvenation, purification, collective healing work, deep inner healing processes, and weather magic. Different times, tides, and seasons influence the type of healing work I do. When not at the Ocean, I am visiting more local lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. Rivers and streams are great conduits for conveying messages to the collective or sending out a siren song of love and healing to other beings in different places connected to those rivers and streams. Lakes and ponds are places of prophecy, divination, and direct communication with other water beings.

When I am unable to travel physically to bodies of water, I visit my carefully crafted ocean altar which is comprised of many found gifts from the Ocean herself. This altar includes a spirit bottle that contains Ocean water and serves as a sort of spiritual portal between myself and the Ocean spirits. Whenever I am traveling out of state, I make every intention of visiting any nearby bodies of water I can. I do have more specific locations or sacred spots I visit, but I am not comfortable sharing those locations. As a solitary practitioner, I very much value solitude and I am very careful to prevent spiritual/eco-tourism which can have profound negative energetic and environmental impacts in those areas.

What types of spirits dwell here?

All bodies of water house various energies, spirits, elementals, and entities. Some of these are very benevolent, others are more indifferent. The elementals of the Ocean often represent raw primordial energy and are what they are. Neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’. They each have their purpose and any being engaging with those elementals without knowledge of their nature may learn the hard way that nature does not follow codes of human ethics. I have never personally encountered an overt malevolent water being, although I have witnessed others fall victim to some mischievous actions on behalf of a water spirit who felt disrespected by some visitors.

Una the Mermaid - Submitted by Una
Una the Mermaid – Submitted by Una

Individuals commune in different ways with these beings. For me, communication with these spirits often occurs through the faculty of claircognizance, or through physical communication by observing nature. I am personally not in the business of classifying the spirits that I encounter. If I am directly communicating with them, their energetic classification is typically not a topic of discourse lol, as it is rude. However, over time and working with certain energies their nature is often naturally revealed to me. Typically, I interact directly with water. While it is true that water houses other living and spirit beings, the water itself is very much alive and aware. Each body of water has its own name, consciousness, and memory, and should be treated as unique individuals. I have befriended certain bodies of water and over time have developed a kinship with them. Other bodies of water have politely but sternly made it clear they have no interest in interacting or developing any kind of relationship. I respect this greatly and always seek consent and give respect to any being I interact with.

There is a specific undine that resides at one of my most sacred locations, and she doesn’t appreciate most human visitation. It has taken me several years to commune with this spirit and build trust and connection. Eventually, I was able to introduce my husband and child to this undine, but not before they could prove their energy and intent were like mine. What I can say, is that this location is a freshwater source, and home to numerous fish and wildlife, including but not limited to crawdads, trout, carp, sculpins, lamprey eels, otters, nutria, frogs, turtles, many water insects, and other creatures. It is also home to several distinct energies and water beings. The undine there is a motherlike caretaker of the region and is protective of her children. While most water spirits I encounter embody non-binary energy, this undine gives off highly feminine energy. She seems to have a male counterpart who is not as friendly and is very standoffish. He has no qualms of taking you to his depths if you disrespect his boundary. Several drownings over the years have occurred there.

Can you tell us more about the rituals you perform with this water?

One of the ponds I frequent has sections polluted and littered with trash. These areas are typically the sections where more humans visit or are downstream from the populated areas. The water will also at times experience toxic algae blooms and will not be safe to enter. I always make an effort to bring trash collection bags and pick up any garbage I find along my visit. I find this act creates both physical and energetic purification of the area. I also greet the space upon my arrival and will bring offerings and engage in a blessing ritual that declares my intent within that space and asks for permission to commune. The beings that reside there are individuals just like you or I. So if I go to visit, I am there to simply be in relationship and spend time with them, nothing more. When doing spiritual work in natural places, I will harness my own energy and send it into the water as healing energy, as this is an expression of love. It is my experience that many magical practitioners are caught up in the mindset of ‘doing magic’ rather than ‘being magic’. This causes them to not be in the present moment and lose sight of more intimate and deep connections they can have with the beings in those spaces.

My sacred spot gives off a powerful natural frequency I find very comforting and healing (except for the one section I mentioned earlier). Typically, the energetic challenges I encounter there are the energies brought in by humans who are there to party, do drugs, or who are intentionally disrupting the natural energy of this space. All natural places are sacred spaces in my opinion. When this negative energy accumulates, I send out an energy forcefield to deter those who would make such disruptions from entering the area. I also clear the space by transmuting the chaotic energy back to natural energy. The majority of my magical workings are simply ‘to be’ and in this ritual, I have gained some of the greatest insights. I find most tools to be cumbersome when outdoors, and not really necessary. When wanting to do rituals involving helping the human collective I go to the coast and work with Mother Ocean directly.

As it is with many natural spaces many of the places I frequent are under constant threat of human pollution, and development. This seems to have increased with the onset of the pandemic. Sadly, some of the sacred spaces I frequented in the past are now overrun with homeless camps that leave extremely large and uncontrolled piles of trash and litter. Some of the spaces are no longer safe to visit alone. Housing is a public health and environmental crisis in my city. I always try to leave any place I visit better than I found it. With my physical disability. However, I am somewhat limited in what I can do physically in those areas now and it saddens me. One way I have been tackling this problem is by staying involved in social justice issues and working on projects to help address the root causes of displacement.

What are you doing now as a Mermaid and Water Priestess?

My work right now has been predominantly focused on creating a sacred water community and working on projects for social justice. A sacred water community is one where the depth of emotions (water) is allowed to flow freely, in a healthy and constructive manner. Merfolk can breathe underwater, and we can reach depths many humans are unable to go. Creating sacred water communities is like creating a giant air bubble, where humans are safe to breathe and exist in their authenticity. There are several ways in which I accomplish this.

On a personal level, I am a traveling mermaid performer, as well as a mermaid oracle. This work allows me to serve as an inspiration to others just as I was inspired by that mermaid I saw years ago at the faerie festival. As a traveling performer, I am able to engage with the human world in a non-threatening way and encourage dialogue on important topics such as ocean and water stewardship, creativity, healing, imagination, and play. I also serve as pod mother to the Fanta-Sea Cove, which I founded in 2012, which is an all-ages Merfolk community group engaging in community service projects and social activities. I am also in the process of writing my own book on Conchomancy and Sea Magic as a comprehensive guide to merfolk everywhere.

On a broader social level, I am the creator of several endeavors which involve bringing community together to engage in collective play and to honor water. For example, I am the organizer of the annual Portlandia Mermaid Parade & Festival, the Sirens Ball, and PDX S.P.L.A.S.H. Month. Started in 2021, PDX SPLASH takes place every July and is comprised of diverse series of events dedicated to water, river, and ocean awareness, specifically as it relates to the Willamette Valley, and its tributaries. Events include but are not limited to: outdoor activities, art events, educational symposiums, films, parades, and festivals. S.P.L.A.S.H. stands for Stewardship, Preservation, Local, Arts, Sustainability, and Heritage. I am also a producer and part owner of a three-day fantasy immersive festival entitled Realms Unknown which takes place in early September in Woodland WA. One of the realms in this festival is the Merfolk realm! Since 2021, I have also been working on establishing my own ‘virtual’ water temple entitled Wai-Ola. Wai is the Hawaiian word for fresh water. Ola means life; Wai-Ola means water of life. The Wai-Ola temple is a space dedicated to the practices of water healing, and sharing the knowledge and wisdom of the waterfolk in an effort to cultivate healing of the Earth and her inhabitants.

On an even broader socio-political level, I serve on several community advisory boards and groups helping reduce violence and work on issues involving police and criminal justice reform. I also work as an independent consultant serving organizations and government agencies on matters of restorative justice, conflict resolution, and diversity equity, inclusion, and belonging.

I also just recently finished being filmed as the main protagonist for an upcoming German, docu-fiction film entitled Sirens Call (produced by Gossing & Sieckmann). The film is currently in post-production and is expected to debut sometime in 2024. Sirens Call is an artistic film exploring the themes of otherkin identity, eco-feminism, trans-humanism, and global change.

Why did you begin to host the Mermaid Festival/Parade? How long have you been hosting? What are your goals and future mermaid projects?

The Portlandia Mermaid Parade started in 2016 as a “for us” (us being merfolk) “by us” event. 2024 will be the 8th year of the parade! In the beginning, this event was intended to just be a quirky shellabration for local merfolk. However, within the first year, the event grew organically to roughly 1,000 attendees, and we have been going ever since. It became clear that something special was happening and others found deep meaning and connection too! The event has really given my mermaid community the opportunity to share merfolk wisdom and water advocacy in a fun and creative way! In 2021 I had the opportunity to host the Portlandia Mermaid Festival in honor of the 5th year anniversary (which technically was in 2020). I hope to bring back this festival back in 2025!

Each year the Portlandia Mermaid Parade chooses a grand marshal. Although the process for this continually evolves, individuals selected are typically chosen based on their service to the community. This year (2023) in an effort to cultivate more youth involvement, I launched the new junior mer-ambassador program which selects a junior mer-ambassador for each age category between the ages of 8 and 19. Youth are judged based on their overall application, and their video or essay. The winner receives the title of junior parade grand marshal, along with a full mermaid make-over complete with tail and monofin and swim photoshoot. To maintain their status as a junior grand marshal winners must complete two community service projects relating to water stewardship within one year of their crowning. We had four winners this year and it has been a fantastic experience for all involved! It has also been a great way to inspire water stewardship among youth!

I have also been working on growing community partnerships in these endeavors and as of this year we have gained two big community sponsors including the Portland Opera and the Oregon Children’s Theater. In 2024 I will be bringing back the annual Sirens Ball as a fundraiser event to help support the production of what will be the Portlandia Mermaid Festival in 2025! I am also continuing to work on and expand PDX S.P.L.A.S.H. month. This year we had several participants including but not limited to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry along with several local businesses.

How do you feel about the current attack on water and Pollution in general?

Water is our planet’s most sacred resource. Currently, global warming remains the single greatest threat to our Oceans. As the ocean conveyer system warms, negative impacts increase affecting the climate of Earth along with the delicate ecosystems within it. In addition to climate change, we are also currently facing a culture of anti-intellectualism and anti-science. Getting people to understand and believe the problem is more than half the battle. I consider myself a radical mermaid, activist, and ally. There are many types of activism, and I have participated and continue to participate in many forms, including street activism, and protest. However, I have found that creating awareness through education, community building, and creative performance has been my most effective and preferred activist methodology.

If the Ocean dies, and the rivers dry up we all die. Whatever we focus on, we must always hold this knowledge at the forefront. My soul purpose is to help humanity evolve, and this simply is not possible without addressing a variety of complex issues. From my perspective water activism should not just focus on the physical environment, but also the elemental forces influencing human thinking and behavior about the environment. Many humans view themselves outside of nature, leading to toxic anthropocentric worldviews. These views lead to harmful choices, policies, and practices, and further perpetuate colonialism and environmental degradation. Restorative justice is a feminine paradigm of thinking that addresses the issue of toxic individualism and anthropocentrism at its core. This sits at the center of all of my activism.

My work here on Earth is to help humans expand their cosmology to see the interconnection between all things and help them expand their emotional intelligence. Water activism has many paths. My path focuses on the transformation of human thinking so environmental stewardship can be made possible. We simply cannot save the oceans, until humanity understands their place in the great natural web of creation. I fully support the endeavors of other water warriors, and I believe all the work is needed and is intersectional.

What types of rituals and spells have you done to protect your sacred body of water and the water of the world?

For me, magic is deeply personal and I do not share my spell work or rituals with others. However, most of my workings focus on increasing human emotional intelligence and fostering awareness in others in addition to protective and healing magic. Occasionally I will practice weather magic in instances of great need such as when Oregon was experiencing the gorge fires and the massive fires in Australia. As mentioned previously, I also engage in energy healing and redirection work in natural places. I do that as often as I can. I keep a mermaid altar and work primarily with the Nine Sisters of the Nordic Sea. I tend to work with a lot of spiritual water-based archetypes though. For example, when I do shadow work I work with the Goddess Ran, when I do transmutation magic I work with the Goddess Yemaya, when I am working in leadership endeavors, I work with the God Aegir. Tidal currents and moon phases are important aspects of my magical workings especially when doing spell enhancements. I also work with a plethora of oracle beings such as whales, dolphins, sharks., crabs, shellfish, coral, sea turtles, and many others.

I tend to spend a lot of time doing shadow work and exploring the mysteries of the deep. I then use my revelations to help inform the work I do on the Earth plane. In natural spaces, I feel it is very important to do both land recognition and energy work. Land recognition acknowledges those beings that currently reside and exist within a space, (both physical and non) as well as acknowledges those who have lived or existed in the past. Acknowledgment is a powerful energy healer and equalizer. The transmutation of energy is my primary form of spellwork. I also use my gifts in communication and communion with the spirit and elemental realms. My primary magical focus is on awakening human consciousness. While magic is an excellent aid in this work, action on the earth plane is how I produce the most change and manifestation.

Is there anything else that you might like to share with our readers? Special stories from the Water? Messages from Spirit?

One of the greatest challenges humans face is freeing themselves from dependency on a system that relies on environmental degradation for profit. We must understand that until these systems are no longer, we are very entrenched and it will take the personal steps in the lives of individuals to finally free themselves of this dependency. Internalized oppression, and toxic shame regarding our entanglement is an emotional barrier that often leads others to become defensive or be quick to judgment. To be effective in social change we must lead by example, and then be generous with our knowledge and tools that helped us do it. Creating more shame or blame is not typically helpful in the long run. Very few humans can truly claim they live a harm-free existence. Therefore, leading by example is the single most radical act anyone can do. Be gentle on others, for you do not know the struggles or obstacles they face.

I tend to believe, that living in right relationship with the planet within a capitalist society is next to impossible. Those who have somehow fully escaped the confines of the system often forget this is an ability for a select few. Those weighted down by oppressive systems rarely have the resources or social capital to grow their own food, make their own clothes, shop locally, or sustainably, let alone have the energy or time to save the planet. It is very difficult to build the critical mass necessary to make effective change when many in society barely have food on the table and lack good education, housing, and healthcare. These issues all intersect. Furthermore, so long as the justice system remains one rooted in retribution consciousness and toxic masculinity, humans will not see the connection between living in right relationship with each other, and living in right relationship with the planet. The key to saving our oceans and the environment is changing the way we structure our societies, justice systems, economic systems, and cosmologies.

Altar - Image submitted by Una
Altar – Image submitted by Una

Learn more about Una at the below links.

About Annwyn Avalon
Annwyn Avalon is a Water Priestess and Celtic Water Witch. She is the Author of The Way of the Water Priestess, Water Witchcraft: Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition and The Celtic Goddess Grimiore. She is the founder of Water Priestess Training, The Water Priestess Confluence, Bewitching the Waters Symposium, and Triskele Rose Witchcraft a Avalonian Witchcraft Tradition. She has devoted her life to the study of Esoteric Water Mysteries. Her path is one of sacred service to the waters of this world and her ancestors. She is an initiated Witch and Priestess, Reiki Master Teacher, award-winning Dancer, and has a BFA in sculpture, BA in Anthropology. She has also received an apprentice certificate in Herbalism. She writes for the Magical Times Magazine in the UK and has contributed to other published works such as Brigid's Light: Tending the Ancestral Flame of the Beloved Celtic Goddess ,This Witch, and Witchology Magazine. She is the author of the Patheos Blog The Water Witch. She now lives in Glastonbury as the sacred steward of Chalice Orchard, the former home of the famous occultist Dion Fortune and is a Keeper and Ceremonialist at the White Spring. One of the sacred springs located in Glastonbury. You can read more about the author here.
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