8 min read

Marine God Proteus, Prophet and Protector of Crustaceans and Seals

Legendary shape-changer seal guardian deity, so Homer told, Marine God Proteus is protector of the seal colonies; and does have a trick or two up his sleeve.
Text title Proteus

Summary of Contents: Proteus in Mythology | Arrival and Appearance | Humans and Gods | Lobster Queen in the Pot | Beauty, Cruelty and Concrete | Proteus and the Sea Lions

Festival Day - 8 September

Proteus in Mythology

Proteus, fabled 'Old Man of the Sea' is listed as son of Oceanus and goddess Tethys.

Homer in his epic story Odyssey told of how the home-bound King Menelaus sought Proteus’ help when his fleet was stranded near his favoured island, Pharos, offshore from the Egyptian coast.

The story told of how Proteus’ daughter Eidothee advised Menelaus how to gain Proteus’ attention. 'Contrive somehow to ambush him,' she suggested. The king asked how best to contain an ancient God.

'Not easy,' she agreed, not least because Proteus was a shape-changer.

Homer told of how Proteus could transform into anything from tree to panther.

Theoi Marine God Proteus

Marine God Proteus' Mythological references

Goddesses, Gods and You

What kind of Heaven do you expect. Soft fluffy paradise of eternity, or oblivion of nothingness? Out-of-body survival expert Margo Williams discovered a surprisingly simple system of management and afterlife recycling.

There are many goddesses and gods in the community. Speaking their name aloud evidently sends a signal, creates a link to wherever they are at any given moment. If it works for you as it worked for Margo, and they respond be respectful but be yourself. Honesty and thoughtfulness are appreciated.

Sacrifice nothing but your time. Most of them seemed approachable and appreciated being remembered.

The ancient temples that still can be found in some places, although mostly broken, are huge monumental structures; impressive sacred spaces, their scale designed to impress, to be worthy of divine visitation.

However, it is not the size and splendour of any sacred space but the sincerity of the person seeking contact.

Photo image of Margo Williams in Africa
Margo Williams in Africa
"Proteus is a shape-changing God?" Nick Hammond asked out-of-body survivalist Margo Williams.

Arrival and Appearance

"Proteus arrived first as silver-grey mist surrounded by shimmering gold lines of light. Wave-like the gold lines moved up and down to his voice, though I didn’t see face or figure.

"My name has been spoken and I have arrived. A mighty god of the seas," he said. 'This place has much love stored in it. If there is enough room I will add mine. Your sincerity is strong."

Without anyone touching me, I was out and away travelling fast and low over the ocean, just a foot or so above the waves.

I slowed as ahead loomed a large flat-topped rock, protruding 10 feet or so out of the water. A small boat rigged with lobster-catching gear bobbed close by.

A tall figure dressed in a loincloth stood on the rock watching the boat. Dark haired but not young. A rounded face, blue green eyes; neat dark beard. He gestured for me to sit.

"Absorb the power from this rock." We watched the fisherman work, stopping here and there to drop empty pots.

"Long ago, before setting forth across the ocean a sailor would pray to one of us." Proteus watched the small boat come close below us. "If possible he would go to a temple and offer us wine, fruit or flowers to appease us that he may have a safe journey."

"It depended upon how we felt whether we granted this," he added.

Humans and Gods

The fisherman looked tanned and strong, lifting the pots, roping and dropping them over the side. A man of middling years seemingly unaware of being observed.

"The great oceans cover much of your planet, yet man now does not respect either the seas, or us. He lives in ignorance and it pleases him to do so," Proteus said.

"Man exploits the seas by any means he can to make money from the creatures of the deep."

Plastic rubbish bobbed around the rock, caught in seaweed slick.

"Man drills for oil and minerals, he breaks down the corals and in return pumps oil from his tanks. Throws his waste materials into the sea."

Proteus shook head and gestured. "And what you call nuclear waste is thrown onto the ocean bed. This is progress?"

He was silent a moment, as if he expected an answer but I didn’t have one.

"So now we are taking steps to stop all of this happening." He turned and pointed at me. "You too were cruel. You are not blameless."

Lobster Queen

A projection appeared in the air between us, there on the sea rock. Images, like someone played a home-movie. But of my own memories. As if he had switched a button in my mind and turned it to play.

I felt nervous, already had faced a similar assessment experience from Hades who made use of such a tool too.

The movie was of me for I saw myself, as if someone filmed me running down to the beach at Sadrugha in Comatche in southern Africa. I watched as I scrambled out onto my favourite rock in the ocean and placed my basket on a ledge.

I spent those days diving for lobsters and crayfish.

Watched myself hauling crustaceans out and throwing them in the basket. It was a small community on the desert coast, only 15 people or so; a small shop. A few houses and a hotel. I saw it all happening on the silent projection.

The movie-in-the-air turned to night-time and slowed. A party, me looking happy, voted Queen for the night for catching so many lobsters.

I saw the table of food, all the ways in which the lobsters were prepared. People drinking and laughing, everyone making a fuss of me for having won the competition.

The movie of memories faded, then vanished from the air.

"You were young and ignorant," said Proteus.

Into the Lobster Pot

In the silence that followed his comment I wanted to explain:

We were very poor. We had no money and though successful at catching them, if the lobsters were with eggs I always put them back. Not once did I catch more than we needed, to sell for profit.
If I had too many I presented them to friends. I grew tomatoes and sold many of those for profit, was so successful at that they should have named me 'Tomato Queen'”.

Was what I wanted to say, but he gave me no opportunity.

Lightning fast he had hold of me, jumped down into the lobster boat before it pulled away from the rock. Proteus stuffed me inside a lobster pot.

I struggled against him but he easily had me in.

"Fish are c.t .p while they are still alive and pieces placed on hooks in the pots to attract the crustaceans," he said low and menacingly. "Now, you will be the bait."

The lone fisherman evidently was unaware of this extra body now inside his pot. Proteus vanished as I was lowered into the ocean. Water felt warm, scenery beyond the bars was coral.

We reached the ocean floor, and soon a large lobster climbed inside the pot, then a crayfish; then another and another.

Lobsters and crayfish crawled around me, nipping at my skin. I tried to brush them off but the lobster pot soon was full, and I couldn’t move at all. The current rocked us from side to side.

I tried to push the creatures away from me. They struggled to get out and mostly fought among themselves.

The Hell of Lobster Pot Life

On that experience I can say this additional truth: only crustaceans know how hellish it is inside a filled lobster pot.

Mercifully, I felt the rope yank upwards and we were hauled up onto the small rocking boat. The poor creatures were squirming on the deck.

I looked but the fisherman was gone. In his place stood a youthful dark-haired male dressed in loin-cloth, busy picking up the struggling crustaceans and dropping them back in the water.

He pulled me out of the pot, then broke it into pieces. "Now you know what is like to be bait," he said.

I stared, realising who he was.

"I can change, as you see," said Proteus.

That was the only transformation he ever showed me.

The Nuanced Nature of Beauty

Most of the ocean gods and goddesses tested courage and stamina by causing dangerous marine life to chase me but Proteus did not. Other than that uncomfortable experience in the pot he didn’t try to frighten me, only to educate.

"There are more creatures dwelling in the oceans than you could ever dream of," he said. "Places where mortals do not fish and do not pollute are beautiful."

"I will show you to prove there is still much beauty in your world, both in the ocean and on land. There will be even more, one day."

Proteus showed me starfish cluster patterns in colours I didn’t know existed, and caves of spectacular size and beauty.

We watched porpoises at play, sometimes I was allowed to join in. Proteus protected me but sometimes a small damage was intended to illustrate advice he thought necessary to share on the nuanced nature of beauty.

A bed of sea urchins, spines extended. I dived for a closer look at their vibrant reds and greens, and yellows and blues but pulled away to avoid a stingray and let it pass.

Caught my arm on an anemone's spikes. Took a while to pull them all out.

"Beautiful creatures are not always kind. Beware," was Proteus' lesson.

Coastlines, Concrete and Cruelty

I didn’t know if his comments about the future were prophecy or hope. I didn’t want to doubt what he said was true but what he showed me of some coastlines seemed to be the opposite: wherever there was beauty there was concrete.

Building sites, towering blocks and walled marinas filled with yachts and motor-boats. The ocean for miles around littered with broken glass, stained with trails of engine oil.

Several miles out from a marina we found the remains of a small aircraft with a broken fuselage.

Inside the cockpit were skeletons of three long-lost bodies, no flesh left on them at all. Some of the pilot’s bones had fallen and lay in a heap on the floor.

Proteus gazed in through the cockpit window. "This craft was carrying three corrupt men travelling to set up a fish factory. An accident," he added with a shrug. "It was some time ago."

When we surfaced, I wondered how low a plane had to fly to come within an ocean God’s awareness.

Sometimes I thought about the impact of their choices, and sometimes wondered on the morality of my own species’ sense of sporting fun.

Proteus took me to the Antarctic ocean to witness factory ship crew-members on deck rail armed with r....s wagering on marksmanship while passing the penguin communities.

The birds stood huddled over their eggs.

Proteus and the Seal Colonies

However, Proteus did also show me what does please him and I learned that some legends are correct. Seals are his favoured species, especially the big ones.

In the cold seascapes of ice, rock and water, home of the sea-lion communities, we walked among them. There were so many I had trouble getting around their massive bulk, towering over me by half my height again.

They made a horrendous noise as I picked and weaved through the crowds of lions and cows and pups to where young grinning Proteus sat on a rock.

"This is an inaccessible place where mortals cannot go, therefore they are safe," he said. "These creatures are my special ones. I protect them."

He patted a huge sea-lion male, it responded by roaring its pleasure.

"The cruelty of men who harm the whales and the seals does not go unnoticed." A dozen sea lions roared their approval, so it sounded to me.

The enormous sea creatures genuinely seemed to love Proteus. It sure was noisy.

Proteus rose, and with some measure of dismay the sea-lion flumped away from him. And so we left the colony. "Thank you for coming with me," he said. "My blessings are added to those who have blessed you before."

I didn’t ever see Proteus transform into a tree or a panther, or any other of those things Homer described. But that doesn't mean he can't.

Thank you for your company on this short introduction to the god Proteus. If you would like to know more about Margo Williams' experiences and suggestions for how to survive in the hereafter read this book. Now available from Amazon.

Book cover link to purchase Olympian Goddesses and Gods Coexistence
Olympian Goddesses and Gods Coexistence. Now available from Amazon.co.uk
Useful Links

Sea Lion Facts. IFAW