P.O. Box 92, Gerlach, NV  89412
Phone (775) 557.2526
Cell (775) 750.4413



Dahud-Ahes the Mermaid

Lisa Nigro


Interactive Installation (in Progress)
Black Rock Desert, NV

41’ x 13’ x 25’
Steel, recycled 55-gal steel drums, & other found objects
— Burning Man Art Installation Grant.

When complete, she will stand approximately 25 feet tall, and an entrance at the front of her hips (or yoni) will invite the observer to interact with her. Like a nautical jungle-gym, one can access her interior and climb into and on top of her. Like Draka the Dragon, her scales are cut from colorful 55-gallon steel drums. Scrap metal, perforated steel, and other found objects also add depth and mystery to her overall design, with blue and green lights glowing from within.

Dahud-Ahes ~ Herstory: A Breton princess, also called Dahut and Ahes (Ahés or Ahé), Dahut was the daughter of Gradlon and the sorceress Malgven. Gradlon built the beautiful city of Ys for his daughter, because Dahut loved the sea. But it was the sea that would bring her and her beloved city into ruin. The earliest version only say that Dahut and her lover were drunk, when she stole her father's key, opened the dike that flooded Ys. A more elaborate second version has heavy Christian overtone.

Dahut was a follower of the pagan religion. Because her mother was Malgven, Dahut was a sorceress and druidess. Dahut was thought wicked, because she led her people to nightly drunken revelry and debauchery. Dahut ignored the warning from Guénolé that her excesses would bring the destruction of Ys. While Gradlon slept, Dahut stole the key to the dikes, which hanged from the chain of her father's neck. When she opened the floodgate, the sea covered the low-lying city with water. Most of the people of Ys drowned.

Gradlon and Guénolé were among the survivors. Gradlon would have saved her daughter, but Morvarc'h had trouble carrying them to safety. Guénolé knew who was responsible for the city's destruction, and so urged the king to throw Dahut into the water. Gradlon was left with no other choice, so he flung his daughter into the water. The water immediately receded, but the entire city was submerged, and it became part of the Bay of Dourarnenez. The legend says that Dahut did not die, rather that she was transformed into a mermaid. Dahut was likened to the Sirens who lure sailors to crash their ships into rocky shores.

Some scholars link Dahut with Morgan le Fay, though others are skeptical about this association. In Medieval times Christians altered Celtic story to make Druidess heroines into evil witches. In this manner, the Christians effectively began to sway the opinion of both clergy and the people that knowledgeable women and the Druid order itself were wicked. Such stories as that of Dahud-Ahes, daughter of the sixth century king Kernev, whom Ellis says was "undoubtedly a Druidess adhering to the old religion, [and] who [was] then transformed into a sorceress by Christian scribes." She was strongly opposed to Christianity, and therefore her city of Ker-Ys was destroyed by a flood and she was turned into a mermaid "as she sinks beneath the waves, proving that [St. Guénolé's] magic is just as good as any Druid['s]." (Ellis, The Druids, p.104)

Professor Markle states: Apart from representing paganism in opposition to Christianity, however, she [Dahud-Ahes] also symbolizes the rebellion against masculine authority... The full significance of this act becomes clear when one considers her dissolute life as contrary to the teachings of the Christian Church, here represented by St Gwénnolé, himself the very symbol of masculine authority. However, it is interesting to note that in Ker-Ys today, the myth place of Duhad-Ahes, she is considered a "good witch."  (Ellis, The Druids, p.104)

Excerpts from: The Mermaid's Tale

Remember now the tale of Liban
who lost her family to the flood,
who lived below the waters in a sea cave,
by the shores of Lough Neagh:

For a year and a day the poor girl
lived in this cave, wearied and afraid;
her dog at her side, she prayed to Tethra,
the sea god of elder time, a salmon to make her:

The famed lord of the waves, lifted her
from the deep cave, human and fish,
a Sea Maiden at last, her bright life
borne in honor under the goddess Muirgen!

And, do not forget, Dahud, of Ker-Ys,
who lives below the waves,
daughter of King Gradlon;
who shall return with her mere-maiden gifts!

It is said her true name is, Dahud-Ahes,
the "good witch", she who took the keys
of the floodgates from her lord,
and broke the seal that magick'd the fate of Ys.

Down below the deep blue sea she lives,
the mere-maiden of Ker-Ys,
her green eyes alive with light,
her kiss the gift of Muirgen's sight!

And, some say, that on the day
the bright white towers of Ys arise,
out of the watery abyss,
we shall all be changed in a twinkling eye
to Elven kin, our true life as Sidhe, keening!

O sing to me now, of mermaids and selbies,
of the pure heart of love by the bright waters of the grey sea!

- Earthwizard, aka, Steven Craig Hickman
©Friday, January 02, 2004

Crew 2002

Brett Vayo
Flynn Mauthe
Pogo Wray
Marc DeClerq
Shannon Marr
Gemena Jones

Project on Hold

Pending additional funding.

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Dahud-Ahes image gallery