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Melusina

Updated on April 2, 2011

Melusina is pre-Christian legend, a water spirit, a fairie, a nixie. Melusina inhabits fresh waters and sacred springs. Melusina is the most beautiful woman in the world from the waist up; from the waist down, she's a snake (or sometimes a fish, like a mermaid, or sometimes a dragon, depending on whose coat of arms you're looking at!) In some illustrations, Melusina even has wings!

Melusina is a symbol for feminists. Melusina dates back to a time of pre-Christianity, when women were much more powerful in the world due to the un-masculine ability to give birth, to form new life within their own bodies, an ability that was (before Christ) both respected and feared by men, and many ancient systems were matriarchies. Melusina is also sometimes associated with the sorceries of Druid priestesses, who may call her from their sacred waters to aid and assist them in their rites.

In medieval times, Jean d'Arras collected "spinning yarns", or stories women told while at their spinning wheels. One of the stories was that of Melusina, and it goes something like this:

One day, Elynas, King of Albany (the old name for Scotland) went riding in the woods where he came across a beautiful lady. She was Pressyne, and it was love at first sight for the king. He persuaded her to marry him, but she made him one condition: he must not enter her room while she bathes.

She, in the fullness of time, became enceinte. The king adored her. He showered her with gifts and made every effort to ensure the safety of her lying-in. He spared no expense. She gave birth to triplets; three daughters: Melusina, Melior, and Palatyne.

One Saturday, Pressyne was in her bath, luxuriating in the foamy scented water. The king, who had been riding out with the hunt, wished to bathe, and wasn't aware of the presence of Pressyne in the bath. (Or was he? Was he long tormented by a fatal curiosity engendered by the strange taboo? Did he hear faintly, through the door, the enchanted singing of his lovely wife in her bath, and find the temptation irresistible?)

He entered the room. Pressyne shrieked in fury, and rose up from the bath in all her terrible majesty of wrath. She was transformed in the bath; her nether quarters were that of a long, hideous snake! She hissed curses down upon her hapless husband's head and fled the kingdom, together with her three daughters, who were growing into fine and beautiful princesses.

Pressyne fled to the lost Isle of Avalon. The three daughters--Melusina, Melior and Palatyne, came of age in Avalon. On their fifteenth birthday, Melusina, the first-born of the three, asked, "Where is our Father?"

Pressyne told Melusina of the king's broken promise; how he had seen her in her bath.

Melusina was angry at the broken promise, which had spoiled their future as princesses. She instigated a plot, involving her sisters, and successfully captured her father and locked him and all his wealth and power inside a mountain. Melusina tasted the fine wine of revenge.

Pressyne learned of this retribution and was fearsome in her wrath against her first-born daughter Melusina. Pressyne felt it was not Melusina's place to exact revenge for a broken promise made to another; also, maybe she truly loved her kingly husband and would not, after all, wish him harm. Pressyne, in her anger, cursed her daughter Melusina to take the form of a serpent, from the waist down, every Saturday in her bath.

Melusina wandered away from her mother, far and wide, throughout the lost Isle of Avalon, and beyond the seas. She met Raymond of Poitou in a forest in what is now France. They fell in love, and just as her mother had done, Melusina laid a condition on Raymond that he must not see her in her bath.

History repeated itself--Raymond DID see Melusina in her bath, but she forgave him, and, assuming the form of a dragon, gave him three magic rings, and flew away, never to be seen again.

 

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    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Paradise7 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you again, Leann. I love the goddess myths most of all.

    • profile image

      leann2800 

      6 years ago

      What a wonderful story. Its so amazing, I can't believe I have never heard it before. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Darkmetaly profile image

      Daníel Guðmundsson 

      6 years ago from Iceland Höfn í Hornafirði.

      yes I have an Icelandic folklore story hub I made

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Paradise7 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Do you have any of those stories to share with us, Darkmetaly?

    • Darkmetaly profile image

      Daníel Guðmundsson 

      6 years ago from Iceland Höfn í Hornafirði.

      of course it would be sad to see these old folklore stories disappear. I two love stories abut mythological creatures like elves, vampires etc.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Paradise7 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, darkmetaly, for the comment. It's one of my favorite stories of all time, and few people have heard of it. I want to keep it alive.

    • Darkmetaly profile image

      Daníel Guðmundsson 

      6 years ago from Iceland Höfn í Hornafirði.

      lovely story and a great hub

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Paradise7 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, Kitty. This is one of my very favs, I'm thinking of doing a Goddess series, just because the ladies are so awesome!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      No way! How did I miss this hub, Paradise? I've never even heard of Melusina...if you can believe that! Thank you so much for educating me on this lovely piece of mythology (or what my religion would call a goddess). :)

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Paradise7 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, Red Elf.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 

      6 years ago from Canada

      I know what mkbirdsks means - I have an ex with similar issues :D Great stories, in your usual stylish manner.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Paradise7 

      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, scarytaff and Doug for your so-kind and gracious comments. I love these stories so much and am very happy to share them, especially with such an appreciative audience. Thank you again! There's nothing more encouraging to a hubber than some very kind comments.

    • profile image

      Doug Turner Jr. 

      7 years ago

      Very interesting read with great pictures to accompany. I've heard of this legend, but never had it so succinctly put. Well done. I enjoyed this.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Paradise7 

      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, A.A. and Chris, for your comments. I love these legends, too, and all kinds of tales, stories, ghosties, goblins, things that go bump in the night, in addition to classic myths and legends.

    • Chriscwarner profile image

      Chriscwarner 

      7 years ago

      Love learning about legends like these! Enchanting and dark and beautiful all at the same time. We can learn so much from the timeless stories of the ancients. They have so much resonance even today. Enjoyed the read!

      -Chris

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Fascinating legend and hub. Thank you for sharing.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      7 years ago from South Wales

      A very nice story No.7. And nice to see you back again.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Paradise7 

      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you both for the comments, epigramman and sofs! I like this story--I can truly see it. I think of it as kind of a reversal of Bluebeard. The husband breaking the one taboo--then it's all up for him! Except the women don't kill. They just go away.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 

      7 years ago

      I am so glad to see you again Paradise7. You tell this story so beautifully and eloquently. The illustrations make the story more interesting, but I guess your words can tell the story equally well too. I like the way you have dated this story, gives it more credibility. Thank you for sharing.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 

      7 years ago

      ....so very eloquent is your writing and its style - so very flowing is your poetic narrative - you have taken me to another world - another dimension ...... bravo and yes this is paradise indeed!!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Paradise7 

      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Hah! MCK, thanks for the gracious comment.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      7 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      I think I dated this person.

      Kidding aside. This is a terrific story, well told. Thanks for brining this to us.

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