Mythical Creatures Series
Beautiful women who lure men to a lake does not end well for the man. She sometimes appears as a young maiden, other times as rotten corpse. Guess which one attracts more men?
What is it?
In Slavic mythology, Rusalka are ghosts of maidens who are thought to have died in or near lakes, rivers or streams, and were usually the result of murders. Thought it is also believed these water spirits are woman who may have committed suicide as a result of a jilted lover, or unmarried women who find themselves pregnant. Legend says that unbaptized children, those born outside wedlock and drowned by their mothers also become Rusalka – sound pretty nasty.
The Rusalka are not necessarily evil or nasty, but are tied to the watery places where they lost their lives, and said to remain there until their deaths are avenged. They are not completely innocent and will attack any person silly enough to approach them.The Rusalka can live on both dry land and in water, and she uses a magical comb to brush her hair, for her power to conjure water lies with that comb.
Men and children are easy prey to the Rusalka who entice them with their singing before drowning them. One version goes that if a man is in her arms, he can easily die from hearing her laughter. Children would be tickled to death.
Though they mainly dwell in the water, during the night they often climb trees, sit there and sing songs.
Rusalka have pale, almost translucent skin and no visible pupils, though depending on what versions of the myth you read, they sometimes have green fiery eyes. With green or golden hair, which is always wet, and some believe if her hair ever dries, she will die.
Appearances In Culture
- The novel Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay features beings called riselka that are based on rusalki.
- The Rusalka trilogy of novels by C.J. Cherryh feature and revolve around a Rusalka named Eveshka.
- The third story, “A Grain of Truth,” from the short story collection “The Last Wish” by Andrzej Sapkowski features a bruxa, named Vereena, who is initially mistaken for a Rusalka.
- “Rusalka” is an opera by Antonín Dvořák.
- The third tale “May Night, or the Drowned Maiden” from the short story collection “Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka” by Nikolai Gogol.
- The second tale, “Urchins, While Swimming” from the short story collection “Ventriloquism” by Catherynne M. Valente, features a rusalka and her daughter.
- Attempting to walk into the water in Quest for Glory IV will result in death by drowning at the hand of a rusalka.
- The video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops” features a Russian ship named the Rusalka.
- The novel “Haunted” by Joy Preble features a Rusalka named Lily and tells some information on the origin of the Rusalka.
- It is perhaps of note that the creatures from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid were translated as “Rusalka”.
- The video game “Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia” features a boss called “Rusalka” who attacks the player with water and giant waves.
- In the video game Ace Combat 6 there is a named aircraft “Rusalka”.
- The video game “Quest for Glory 4” features a “Rusalka” who the player can chose to set her soul to rest by finding the man who murdered her (found out to be a miserly Wraith guarding his treasure).
- One of Pushkin’s short tragedies is titled “Rusalka”. It features a young woman who, drowning herself after being jilted by her lover the prince, becomes the Rusalkas queen. The play is unfinished, the title was given by editors after Pushkin’s death.
Did you know? Whenever people would bathe in the lake they put fern in their hair so that the rusalka would not pull them under and drown them.
Previous Mythical Creature Posts:
Marchosias, Ningyo, Abatwa, Cait Sith, Anka, Huldra, iele, Manticore, Hantu Demon, Lich, Joan The Wad, Fomorian, Rakshasa, Hellhound, Sleipnir, Three-Legged Crow, Afanc, Tarasque, Echidna, Alkonost, Landvaettir, Hippocampus, Cockatrice, Shedu, Dryad, The Erlking, Oni