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The Deep Abyss of Dread

The vast expanse of the world’s oceans, with its deep mysteries, has always created a captivating fascination for humans throughout history. For many of us, we look out at the sea and regard it with awe-inspiring beauty, yet for many ancient civilisations it held a deep fear. From the Greeks to the Polynesians, the Egyptians to the Vikings, ancient people were frightened of the sea and the mythological creatures that dwelled beneath its waves. These fears gave birth to a tapestry of
myths, legends, and tales that reveal humanity's deep-rooted anxiety towards the unknown. 

To the ancients, the sea was a realm of chaos, a place where the boundaries between the heavens and the earth were blurred. In many early civilizations, the sea represented an uncontrollable force, a vast expanse that could yield immense riches, but also devastate with its wrath. The Greeks, for instance, attributed the sea's volatility to the god Poseidon, who held dominion over the waves and could unleash destructive storms at will. This idea was common of the Greek gods
who were thought to be volatile and fickle. This portrayal of the sea as a powerful and capricious entity reinforced the idea that it was beyond human control.

Ancient cultures wove elaborate myths to explain the sea's mysteries and to make sense of their fear. In Greek mythology the monstrous sea creature Scylla was believed to reside in a treacherous strait that was localised between Sicily and Italy, terrorising sailors by snatching them from their ships. Sailors who dared to traverse these waters were gripped by a paralysing fear of encountering this multi-headed, razored teeth monster. The tale of Scylla showed how the unknown lurking beneath the waves became a source of terror, and how the fear of such
encounters shaped sailors' perceptions of the sea.

In Norse mythology the Midgard Serpent, Jörmungandr, encircled the world and dwelled within the depths of the ocean. This colossal sea serpent was believed to be an embodiment of chaos and the bringer of doom. The Vikings, who relied heavily on the sea, lived in constant dread of provoking the beast's wrath.

These tales reveal how the ancient fear of the sea was often compounded by the belief in terrifying creatures lurking beneath the waves. The Kraken, a legendary sea monster from Scandinavian folklore, was said to emerge from the depths to wreak havoc on ships. The terror inspired by the Kraken underscored the unknown and potentially deadly nature of the ocean and its inhabitants.

The sirens of Greek mythology were another embodiment of the sea's sinister allure. These alluring female figures were believed to sing enchanting songs, luring sailors to their deaths on rocky shores. The siren's seductive call symbolised the irresistible pull of the sea, juxtaposed with the danger that lay hidden within it. In many ways sirens serve as a reminder that the beauty of the sea could hide its danger.

For ancient civilizations that relied on maritime trade and exploration, the sea was inextricably linked to survival. As humans ventured farther from their shores, they encountered not only the physical challenges of the open waters but also the psychological burden of the unknown. Navigation tools and celestial observations provided some sense of control, but the unpredictable nature of the sea and its potential dangers remained a constant source of apprehension.

The Polynesians, skilled navigators of the Pacific Ocean, developed an intimate connection with the sea while acknowledging its power. They crafted intricate navigational techniques, using the stars, currents, and natural cues to traverse vast distances. Yet, even with their advanced knowledge, the Polynesians held deep respect for the ocean's potential to humble and terrify them. In the Disney film, Moana, these ideas are explored, while also providing good family entertainment!

Even in today's technologically advanced world, where ships sail with sophisticated navigation systems and submarines probe the ocean's depths, the fundamental fear of the sea persists. This ancient fear has permeated literature, art, and popular culture, reminding us of humanity's enduring respect for the ocean's power and our primal dread of the unknown. In the last book of the Bible, there is a picture of a new heaven and new earth where the sea has disappeared. The idea from this ancient document is that the fear the sea induces has disappeared, rather than the
actual sea disappearing!

The myths, legends, and beliefs that emerged from this fear illuminate the human struggle to comprehend and conquer the ocean. From sea serpents to sirens, these myths continue to serve as powerful metaphors for the primal dread we still feel towards the depths of the sea.

As a family who have been working on the water for generations, we hold a deep respect and awe for the sea, recognising its power, and our total inability to control it. That is why we have always sought to work in collaboration with the sea, working with it to make a living. Our oysters are a result of this collaboration, ensuring we respect nature, and its power. Our wild oysters are exactly that—wild. We don’t pretend to try and make the sea do our bidding like King Cnut, rather, we grow our oysters according to the habitat they live in, being as least disruptive to our surroundings as possible.

The legacy of these ancient fears reminds us that, while we have come a long way in understanding the ocean's depths, its mysteries continue to both captivate and terrify us, just as they did for our ancestors.

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