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18. Iara (Brazilian Folklore)

In today's episode, we talk about the Brazilian siren known as Iara. We discuss the powers of the moon, whether immortality is a blessing or a curse, and the mythological influences on names.

Sources:

,Iara

,Iara (mythology)

,Scientists Discover Mysterious Virus in Brazil With No Known Genes They Can Identify

,Brazilian Folklore: Myths and Fantastic Creatures

,Brazil: Iara | USC Digital Folklore Archives

transcript below:


[intro music]

Lizzie: Hello, and welcome to Mytholadies, the podcast where we talk about women from mythology and folklore all around the world. We're your hosts.

Zoe: I'm Zoe.

Lizzie: And I'm Lizzie. So, Zoe, you did the research this week. Who are we talking about?

Zoe: So today we're gonna be talking about Iara, who is a water spirit from the Amazon River Basin in Brazil.

Lizzie: Oh, no way! Okay, I'm excited.

Zoe: Have you heard anything about her at all?

Lizzie: Yes, a little bit.

Zoe: You have?

Lizzie: I know she's like a cool, sort of like a demon kind of lady.

Zoe: Yes. Okay, awesome. I had not heard of her at all. So that's super cool that you've heard of her. [Lizzie laughs] Yeah. So I basically discovered her doing a rabbit hole dive into the "see also" links from when I was looking at Aisha Qandisha, and I think she's really cool. So let's begin. So first, some etymology. The name Iara is from the Tupi language. And the Tupi are an indigenous group native to the Amazon in the area are known as Brazil. And it means "Lady of the waters" or "Mother of the waters."

Lizzie: Nice.

Zoe: The name originated from the works of the Brazilian Romantic poets, Gonçalves Dias. And it's based on like I said, the Tupi language. So she's said to be a beautiful young woman often described with green hair and brown skin, similar to that of an indigenous person or a caboclo, which is a person of mixed European and indigenous descent. She has a tail similar to that of a fish, freshwater dolphin or manatee.

Lizzie: Oh, like a mermaid.

Zoe: Yes, yeah. She's like a mermaid. Also, I love a manatee tail because I love manatees. And I think that's fun.

Lizzie: That is very fun.

Zoe: Yeah, so some stories say she has darker hair. Others say that she has fairer hair. But the latter is believed to be a result of European influence. So she sits on a rock combing her hair, and when she hears a man approaching, she begins to sing to lure him in. When men hear her song, they fall under her spell and feel the urge to leave everything in order to be with her and her underwater world. However, once they approach her, she either attacks and murders them outright, or drowns them in the river. Some stories say that she can transform into a human woman out of the water. However, when she does so she loses all of her powers. And many stories seemed—

Lizzie: Interesting.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Like the Little Mermaid.

Zoe: Yeah, yeah.

Lizzie: I was thinking of sirens.

Zoe: Yeah. Oh, yeah, definitely. So many stories seem to refer to a specific woman and a specific spirit. But others seem to refer to a whole species of woman who live in various rivers and streams throughout the Amazon Basin. So as you'll see, there seems to be like a specific origin story for one specific woman. But then there's also stories that's like, there are all these female spirits living in all the rivers so who knows? It depends. So her origins there's a several different ideas about the origins. Firstly, there's a legendary story. So the legend says that Iara was a Tupi native and a talented and courageous warrior. Her brothers began to grow jealous of her because their father favored her, so of course, they decided that they were going to kill her.

Lizzie: Ah, yes.

Zoe: Naturally, however, she overheard their plan and decided to kill them first in order to save herself.

Lizzie: Good for her.

Zoe: Other versions I found said that she accidentally killed them in self defense either way, in response to their plan to kill her. After she killed them, she fled into the woods, but her father found out what she did and chased after her, eventually catching up with her. And the story said that he didn't know the actual context of the story and that the brothers were planning on killing her first, and just saw that his daughter had killed his two sons. And so he wanted to chase after and punish her, and she was thrown into the river as punishment. However, the fish in the river work to save her. And since it was the night of a full moon, she was transformed into a beautiful mermaid.

Lizzie: Oh, that sounds like H2O.

Zoe: [laughs] Yes, that is exactly what it reminded me of when I was like, Oh my gosh, it's like H2O. Yeah. And so some stories actually say that the moon goddess herself, Jaci, felt pity on her and transformed her. So either way, she was transformed into this mermaid, and she lives in the Amazonian basin to this day and takes revenge on the men who have harmed her by luring them into the river with her beauty, where she then attacks and drowns them. And it's said that those who survive her end up going mad and often have teeth marks on their necks.

Lizzie: Mn, that sounds like Aisha Qandisha.

Zoe: Yeah, it definitely does. It reminds me of both Aisha Qandisha and also La Xtabay in the luring away of the men and seducing them and then attacking them.

Lizzie: Which is very interesting because I feel like, and also there's sirens, there is Aisha Qandisha. There's like, La Xtabay and these are all from very, very different cultures. So yeah, it's really interesting that there's such similar stories.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Yeah, it's really interesting because there's a lot of different females vengeful spirits throughout, like Central and South America that have similar qualities in that they're seductive, they have long hair, you know, they appeared to beautiful woman to lure men in and then they attack them and kill them. And I just think that's very interesting that there's such a trend of that particular spirit of woman, and you might hear more about them later. Wink wink.

Lizzie: Yeah, it's very interesting.

Zoe: So then, aside from the legendary ideas of her history, there's also some historical and cultural origins of Iara. So before the colonization of Brazil, there was not a belief in a female water spirit in the Amazon but rather, a vicious male spirit known as Ipupiara. So he was a male aquatic monster that attacked the natives. He was known as the devil of the waters, and he was said to be 15 feet long, covered in hair, and with a large bristling muzzle, so very monstrous. And he killed men with either a thrust to the abdomen like a spear or through a crushing embrace, like a constricting snake.

Lizzie: Did he kill women too?

Zoe: So I don't know if he killed, you know, people of all genders, and it just says men because that's like, been the standard gender, or if he just generally attacked men, I really don't know.

Lizzie: Okay.

Zoe: But when he attacked, he leaves the bodies mainly intact, and he actually devoured only the nose, eyes, fingers and sometimes genitalia. So. Fun fact.

Lizzie: Gross.

Zoe: Yeah, so belief in Iara likely resulted in cultural syncretism through European colonization and the African slave trade. So this is likely influenced by European beliefs of mermaids and sirens, as we talked about before, you know, she's very similar to this idea of the siren that's found in the Odyssey. And also several female West African water goddesses. And I'm not going to say too much about them because they both deserve episodes in their own right, but I'll touch on them briefly. So the first one is Yemaja, who is a major Yoruba water spirit, and often associated with fertility, rivers, and the ocean and often depicted as a mermaid. And she, I mentioned briefly in the Oba episode, because she is said sometimes to be Oba's mother. And she's— her worship is still very common today in Brazil, through the Candomblé religion. There's a lot of like, you know, shrines and temples to her throughout Brazil, and particularly the Northeast. And then also the second water spirit is Mami Wata, who is a female water spirit worshipped throughout West Central and Southern Africa, and is also often described as having the tail of a fish or serpent.

Lizzie: Yeah, I've heard of her but I didn't know that about her.

Zoe: Yeah. So one thing I did find in my research was there seemed to often be the idea that mermaids were pretty solely a European creation, but that's just very much not true.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: There are stories in cultures all over the world of women who are half human, half fish; as evidenced by these two goddesses from Western and Central Africa. So I think that's like a huge misconception that a lot of people have in particular in popular media, because a lot of the time mermaids are depicted as white, of European descent. And that doesn't have to be the case, because there are mermaid stories from all over the world.

Lizzie: For sure.

Zoe: Yeah. And then there's another brief origin legendary origin story. So Iara was originally said to be a giant water snake called mboiaçu. So mboi, meant serpent and açu meant big, so big serpent. And she was considered the most powerful mythical protector of the Amazon, and often took many forms to frighten away the fishermen on the river. And so it's thought that possibly the idea is that the mboiaçu were syncretized with European ideas of mermaids and African diasporic water spirits, to create Iara, and I think it's very interesting that, you know, originally she was not a woman, or appearing as a woman at all, but rather just a giant snake, which is very cool.

Lizzie: That is very cool.

Zoe: And then later, she became more of like a humanoid, like female figure.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: So there's one story, in particular about Iara and a human man. And so that man's name was Jaraguari. And he was a native member of the tribe of Manaus. And he was a strong, brave and cheerful man, my source said, quote, "cheerful as a bird." He was very loved and respected. But however, one day his mother noticed that he had changed. He was no longer cheerful but wandered the woods in the river until late in the evening. When he would return to be very sad and morose. She asked him what was wrong and he told her that she was in love. He had seen a beautiful woman swimming in the stream singing a beautiful song, but his mother reacted to this in shock and fear. She told him that he had been enchanted by Iara and he was in danger. If he didn't run away from her and her enchantments he would be taken by her and drowned. But he didn't listen and continued wandering. And a little while later, his canoe was found empty floating in the river, he was nowhere to be seen.

Lizzie: Aw.

Zoe: Some people said that they saw him with a beautiful mermaid in his arms, and it was assumed that he had been taken by Iara and drowned. However, the story says that Iara had not drowned him, but taken him to her underwater palace, and he lived there as her lover and it's said that he was the only man that she loved. Which is very interesting.

Lizzie: Well, that's sweet. Also, it's cool that she has an underwater palace.

Zoe: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Underwater palace in like the rivers. That sounds really awesome.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: And I think that um, I mean, I might be wrong because I- it's been a while since I've like learned about Mami Wata. I feel like she also has an underwater palace in a river.

Lizzie: Oh!

Zoe: I think that's an interesting like connection of the stories. So then there's another legendary story about her. And this one definitely evolved after European colonization because it includes cows, which were brought with Europeans to the Western Hemisphere.

Lizzie: Mn. Okay.

Zoe: So, one day, a man was fishing when a beautiful woman rose out of the water and asked him to bring her milk from a black cow. He complied. But when he brought the milk back, the woman had disappeared, and in her place was a large black snake. And he was really upset. So he threw the milk at her and chopped off her head.

Lizzie: Huh.

Zoe: Which. But when he did that, the snake transformed into the woman he had first seen. She stepped out of the river and told him that her curse was broken. And she was released from the river.

Lizzie: Wow. Okay.

Zoe: Yeah. So I thought that was really interesting.

Lizzie: So she had been cursed, or she was just saying that?

Zoe: So I sort of want to hear your thoughts about this. You know, like, what are your thoughts after hearing these stories about Iara so far?

Lizzie: Well, for the last story, it sounds like a fairy tale.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Both because of the lady as a snake thing, and also the like, you freed me from my curse by chopping off my head. But I wonder—

Zoe: Also milk from a cow.

Lizzie: Oh, yeah, that too. [both laugh] Which is really interesting. Because I mean, she must be a pretty popular figure to have, like so many different types of stories about her like, there's legendary stories, there's fairy tale-esque stories. Also, um, we were talking earlier about the moon and how it turned her into a mermaid, it made me wonder like, is there a lot of connection between the moon and mermaids? Like, do you know?

Zoe: I don't know. Actually,

Lizzie: Because if it's in H2O, and it's in the Iara story, that there must be some sort of connection, right?

Zoe: Yeah, I feel like there must be I mean, my assumption for H2O was that, like, you know, there's the connection between the ocean and the moon and the ocean controls the tide.

Lizzie: Yeah, exactly.

Zoe: And then there's just so much folklore about the full moon in general and causing transformation.

Lizzie: That's so true.

Zoe: So like, you know, putting those two together. But I think it's very interesting that this is like there's an actual specific folklore story about the full moon turning a woman into a mermaid. And I just think that's really interesting. And so I definitely want to look more into that and see if there's, like, more specific connections between the two.

Lizzie: Yeah, because obviously, it's like super well known that the moon turns werewolves into wolves from their human form. But now, there's also the mermaid connection as well. I wonder if it's like, if there's more examples.

Zoe: Yeah, definitely. I mean, like, in general, there's ideas that like, you know, the full moon affects people's minds, and like, emergency rooms always get really weird calls on full moons and stuff.

Lizzie: Oh!

Zoe: Yeah, and so, and like, the word for lunacy literally comes from the Latin word for the moon.

Lizzie: That's so interesting.

Zoe: Yeah, there's like, culturally, there's been these ideas about the transformative power of the moon for a really long time. Or at least like in European context, I don't know about like in other places, but.

Lizzie: So it makes sense that because you have both the transformative powers of the moon and you have that the moon controls the tides.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: So that would make sense.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: That they would control mermaids.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Also—

Zoe: That's really interesting.

Lizzie: Yeah. And also there's because before she was living this life, where like her brothers were trying to kill her and stuff like that. Her father was trying to kill her, or punish her, I guess. And then she became this really cool water spirit with an underground palace. Like I think, I feel like her life became kind of better, like she got this really cool life. But then there's also the idea that she might have been cursed. So that's also something.

Zoe: Yeah, for sure. That's the thing about Iara for me. Like when I first researched her, I was like, oh, it's a cool like water demon. You know, she lures men into the water and drowns them like, that's super cool.

Lizzie: Yeah! [laughs]

Zoe: Super interesting. And then I looked into it more. And it's like some stories really like say, you know that she's vengeful, but others sort of depict her more as a lonely woman looking for love and companionship. And it sort of makes her seem like she's more... it that she's more curse than like, is more of a negative transformation than a positive transformation. And so it's sort of like unclear. I think.

Lizzie: Also the moon goddess who took pity on her and transformed her as well. In that way, it sounds like it was an improvement from her, you know, about to die. So.

Zoe: Yeah, absolutely.

Lizzie: But it's also an interesting idea that she like, was cursed to that life.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: And that she was just trying to, like, be set free and like, look for love and all that.

Zoe: Yeah. So I think that definitely, at face value her life as like a vengeful water spirit seems pretty cool. But it's also clear that like, it's probably a very lonely existence.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: Like she's immortal. But all her lovers are mortal. And therefore, she's doomed to live her eternity primarily alone, watching her lovers age and die. I think we can assume, even though Jaraguari was taken into her palace, he was still mortal, and would eventually age and die.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: And then I think there's the question of, you know, like, is she bringing men into the water to, you know, seduce them and take revenge? Or is she bringing them in because she wants companionship? And unfortunately, they just can't survive the environment that she's grown to survive in, and they just die.

Lizzie: Yeah, for sure. And it's also, like, you have to think about what the life is like for her... for her lovers. Because they have to, like, go into the underground palace. They can't like live their life normally.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: They have to sacrifice a lot in order to be with her.

Zoe: Yeah. And so I think there's the question of was she saved or condemned. And so in this way, like I said, she reminds me of La Xtabay, and Aisha Qandisha, who are two other women often described as monstrous and demonic, but also, in many ways, victims of cycles of cruelty, which they cannot escape, despite reacting very understandably to acts of violence and harm against them. They're not able to rest but rather forced to live forever. So no wonder they're cruel and vicious. And so this also actually reminded me of some analysis regarding the story of Medusa.

Lizzie: Huh, okay.

Zoe: Some people have wondered if Athena's transformation of Medusa was a punishment, or rather a way of protecting her from abuse by men in the future. However, I actually remember you talking about this, Lizzie, a while back.

Lizzie: Yeah, I'm sure.

Zoe: And you pointed out that since Athena was the goddess of wisdom, she would have known that transforming her into such a significant monster would have caused her to be hunted down by quote, "heroes looking for glory." And therefore, it seems that Medusa's transformation can only be viewed as a condemnation and not any way of setting her free.

Lizzie: Mn. Yeah.

Zoe: And so in a similar way, I feel like Iara's transformation could be- functions as a condemnation as well, as First we might think, yay, girl power, kill those men.

Lizzie: Girlboss.

Zoe: Then I'm looking at how lonely— Yeah, girl boss, Iara. But looking at how lonely her experience is, and how she can't be herself outside of the water, she can't share her experiences with anyone without them drowning, it becomes a lot more tragic,

Lizzie: For sure.

Zoe: So the idea that she might be trying to take lovers to keep her company but they all drown or are unable to stay with her is incredibly tragic to me.

Lizzie: Yeah, and she's the only one of her kind, right?

Zoe: Yes, I must. I mean, like, of course, this is all assuming, like I said at the beginning, a lot of the stories focus on one specific woman. But then there are also stories that seem to say like, there's a lot of different women like this, so then it's a lot less sad. And then it's more of a vengeful spirit kind of thing. You know, like, sort of, like Will-o-the-Wisp sort of thing, you know, like luring men away.

Lizzie: In another way it's sort of also very sad, because it's like, if it happens to more than one woman that means it's like a punishment for women, you know?

Zoe: Yeah. Then you could say it's a liberating thing for women who are you know, suffering at the hands of men.

Lizzie: True, lots of different ways to look at it. And because she was transformed by the moon goddess, the same way Medusa was transformed by Athena.

Zoe: Yeah, that's that's a sort of parallel that I found really interesting.

Lizzie: And we don't know much about the moon goddess, right?

Zoe: Yeah, well, I mean, I didn't look too much into her, there's probably more information to be found. And so that's on me for not looking more into it, but—

Lizzie: That's fine.

Zoe: So a quote that I found from someone's project at the University of Southern California on folklore, where the person interviewed a person from Brazil about Iara said in their analysis, "the fact that Iara does not kill her lovers, but instead takes care of them until they die is extremely interesting. This might be Iara's way to deal with loneliness. She finds someone to love and Once they are gone, she replaces them. At the end of the day, this myth is one about love and its approach to love is unique despite the common trope it contains, such as the image of the mermaid. It basically states that companionship is an inherent part of love and life. Iara keeps on luring the men because it makes her happy to have someone and provides respite from her immortality and lonely life. This brings another interesting point, it showcases immortality as a curse rather than a blessing. It is because Iara is immortal that she feels the need to keep on learning men. Hence, immortality is equated with loneliness."

Lizzie: That's so true. She's the only person around her who's immortal, right?

Zoe: Yeah. And yeah, she is the only one as far as I'm aware. Although, there seems to be other gods, but it doesn't seem like she interacts with them at all. Or maybe she can interact with them, but she prefers to interact with mortals because that's where she came from.

Lizzie: Have you ever read Tuck Everlasting?

Zoe: I have, yes.

Lizzie: There's a whole thing in that book about how like they're immortal. They can't die, but they hate it. They want to die so bad. Because they literally can't die. And it's— they only have each other. And so then the girl falls in love with him. But she has to be like, no, I want to be mortal.

Zoe: Yeah, yeah, that's so true. That's definitely a really good, a good example. Like, I think that at the time, like maybe she was being saved. Or she felt like she was being saved. And maybe it became more of a curse

Lizzie: For sure.

Zoe: Because she had to keep on living.

Lizzie: Yeah, I mean, imagine not being able to die, even if you wanted to.

Zoe: Yeah. Mm hmm. And then like, the only way, she can only have cures for her loneliness and like nice, fleeting love affairs, that will always leave her lonely again at the end.

Lizzie: Yeah, exactly. Just a very unfulfilling life. And it's very sad. You know what I'm thinking?

Zoe: What are you thinking?

Lizzie: She should just get with the moon goddess. [laughs]

Zoe: I mean, that's so true. [both laugh] She should, that's so true. I also think, you know, like, this is definitely an interesting and nuanced way of looking at her story. And this is like, sort of me just like, improv reacting to the notes that I've taken. But it's also possible that maybe we're just falling into another sexist trap of thinking—

Lizzie: Oh, she must be so sad, you know, without companionship.

Zoe: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Like maybe she's a strong independent woman, and she likes being alone. And she likes being you know, a girlboss, like, killing men, you know, like, maybe she likes it. And we're projecting on her.

Lizzie: So true.

Zoe: Like, so like, on the converse side, like, maybe we're totally wrong, and she's having a great time. And it was a reward. And maybe she's super happy now to take revenge and like, you know, have some fun from time to time and like, live in her underwater palace. Like, maybe that's great, you know.

Lizzie: And take the occasional lover to have fun with.

Zoe: Yeah, yeah, like, I mean, who says that Iara has to have a companion all the time, you know.

Lizzie: True.

Zoe: So I think like, I think there's also that to be said about her story.

Lizzie: And how she was turned immortal in like, defense and like—

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: And now she's just living her life not being hunted by her brothers. And everything.

Zoe: Yeah. Now, she knows that she's safe. And she has the power, not the men. And so that's definitely very significant. And she gets to live in the river, which is super cool.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: And maybe you know, she has an affair with the moon goddess. I think that would be super awesome for her.

Lizzie: Yeah. [laughs] And you mentioned earlier that when she leaves the water, she loses her powers. Is that like a permanent thing? Or is it like she could just wander around and then go back, and that has she has her powers again.

Zoe: So I'm assuming she can wander back and have her powers again. So like you said, like the Little Mermaid where you like, go in the water. So like, you lead the water and you don't have your powers and then you go back and you get like replenished or whatever.

Lizzie: Maybe if she really wanted to not be immortal, she could just get up and walk away.

Zoe: Maybe she could do that.

Lizzie: Maybe she doesn't want to.

Zoe: Maybe she does have the power. Yeah, maybe she just doesn't want to. She's a strong independent woman.

Lizzie: Yeah, exactly. With a manatee tail. Like. Living her best life.

Zoe: Yeah, or a snake tail. Awesome. So, would it surprise you to hear that Iara is a very common girl's name and Brazil.

Lizzie: Really?

Zoe: Yeah. So yeah, it's a super common name, and also fun fact. So is Janaína, which is another name for Yemaja in Brazil. So.

Lizzie: Ah!

Zoe: That's just a fun fact. Also, some other fun facts about Iara as a name. It's used as the namesake for an oil field near Rio de Janeiro. And it was also used to name a new amoebal virus that was discovered in a manmade lake in the Brazilian city Belo Horizonte.

Lizzie: Interesting.

Zoe: It's called the Yaravirus brasiliensis. And it's very significant because it has like, really unique DNA compared to other like amoebal viruses. Fun fact.

Lizzie: Wow.

Zoe: Also, she was featured as a character in the Aquaman comics.

Lizzie: Really? Like as herself? Or like a—

Zoe: Sort of like a character based off her name's Ya’Wara and the series called The New 52 by comic writers Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, and she's in a superhero group called "The Others."

Lizzie: Well, that's nice. She gets to fight crime or whatever Aquaman does.

Zoe: Yeah, well, underwater crime, right?

Lizzie: I have no idea.

Zoe: I don't know. Anyway. But yeah, I thought that was really interesting that she, you know, she's a character in Aquaman comics.

Lizzie: Good for her.

Zoe: So I find it very interesting. Like I said before that Iara is a very common name in Brazil. Most of the time, it seems that when a person is said to be sort of evil, or demonic character, it's not exactly common practice to name your child after then. We see an exception with Aisha, but that's different, I think because the name is also associated with one of the prophets wives. So there is an outside connotation.

Lizzie: I think it was common before Aisha Qandisha as well.

Zoe: Yeah. So to me, this shows that she's not viewed as completely evil. Rather, people view her as a more complex character, perhaps one suffering from loneliness that I talked about, or maybe a powerful icon of female strength for their daughters to look up to. Or maybe they just regard her as an iconic figure and a source of pride. Or they think their name sounds nice. Who's to say?

Lizzie: It does sound nice.

Zoe: So yeah, it is a really nice statement. So you know what I did? I asked someone with that name from Brazil.

Lizzie: Oh!

Zoe: My mother's best friend, Yara.

Lizzie: How cool.

Zoe: Yeah, so I was doing the research. And I was like, wait a second. I literally know someone from Brazil with this name. And so I talked with her about it. And so I talked with my mother's friend Yara. And so she was definitely named after the goddess figure. Her mother really wanted to name her after the goddess. She really wanted to have a daughter team her after. And so Iara is often spelled I-A-R-A. But it can also be spelled Y-A-R-A. And that's how my mother's friends spells her name. And her mom really wanted her to have her name spelled like that. And so she, her mother didn't really see Iara as a negative portrayal, but a fierce character, sort of like a feminist icon, a rebel figure, rebelling against the patriarchal society that she was born into. And that she represents, you know, but when it comes to the name, you don't really hear a lot about the legend. It's just more of like a common name. You know, it's not like oh, people like, oh, you're named after this goddess of freshwater, like, you know, river spirit character. Like, it's just you know, a name that people have a lot, you know.

Lizzie: Yeah. Which makes sense. Like, in Greece, you could be named like, my friend has an ex boyfriend called Hercules. Like.

Zoe: Yeah. Mm hmm. Exactly. That sort of thing. My mom's friend said, it's like Rebecca in this country. You know, Rebecca has sources in— is a Hebrew name, sources in the Torah, I believe. And, but like people also just name their daughters Rebecca without thinking that much about what the says the namesake is, you know. So you don't hear a lot about the legend. Like I said, people talk more about Yemaja, who's the more significant goddess still worshipped today, like I talked about earlier. And actually, fun fact, to go with what I said earlier, it's spelled with an I, because Y was removed from the Portuguese alphabet.

Lizzie: Huh.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Interesting.

Zoe: So that's a fun fact. So yeah. That's Iara. I think she's super cool. I think she's a really interesting character. And I hope I really think like, I want to believe that she's happy, you know, living in her underwater palace, maybe with a lover or two, maybe with the moon goddess from time to time. [Lizzie laughs] You know, she's having a good time. You know, I think I want to believe that she's happy. And I think she's super cool, and definitely very inspiring. And I think it's awesome that she has so many people named after her.

Lizzie: Yes, I also think she's very cool. I only knew a little bit about her. And I think I had heard the legend about her brothers. But it's very nice to know more about her because she's very cool. So thank you, Zoe, and thank you for listening. Feel free to subscribe and leave a review and listen to our other episodes. Thank you.

Zoe: Bye.

[outro music]

Lizzie: Mytholadies podcast is produced by Elizabeth Lacroix and Zoe Koeninger. Today's episode with researched and presented by Zoe Koeninger. You can find us on instagram and twitter at mytholadies and visit us on our website at mytholadies.com. Our cover art is by Helen Cailleaux. Our music was written and performed by Icarus Tyree. Thanks for listening! See you next week!