The Love Lake Succubus of Bruges-la-Morte
In folklore and medieval legends a succubus is a frightening demon who takes the form of a woman to seduce men in dreams and have sexual intercourse. In modern times, a succubus is often depicted as highly attractive. Minna, the Love Lake Succubus of Bruges-la-Morte, also had been a very beautiful woman... long, long ago.
Minna lived with her old father in a small fisher’s cabin near the river. Her father had sailed his whole life the wild waters of the North Sea and now, while they lived from the fish in the river, he dreamt of a young man who would come and take his boat onto the water once again.
Minna’s father thought of a man like Hornbeck, the son of a fisherman – but Minna was madly in love with the young farmer Stromberg.
‘A farmer is not a suitable party for a fisherman’s daughter,’ her father said. So Minna met her lover in secret on the banks of the river, where they hid in the reeds.
As there was a war raging, the fishermen stayed at home, but the farmers went to war and Minna’s father seized the opportunity: ‘Within three days, you marry Hornbeck,’ he spoke.
Minna cried for two days and nights, and on the third day she fled into the dunes. From morning till evening she ran through heather and woods until she fell down by the banks of the river, completely exhausted, and hid in the reeds.
When Stromberg returned after a week of lost battles, he heard his girl had vanished without a trace. He went out to look for her and found her in their secret hiding place. That night, Minna died in his arms.
The sun rose and Stromberg made a dam in the river, so the fishermen downstream would only find fish in the mud, desperately gasping for air.
In the dry bedding he dug a grave for Minna. He covered her body with a blanket of water lilies and he stayed with her a full night. After that, he let the water stream again.
Soon the grave of his beloved Minna reflected the heavenly blue sky. Then Stromberg rolled a heavy black stone onto the riverbank and he hacked the letters Minna’s Water into it. And because the name ‘Minna’ meant ‘love’, this also meant LoveLake.
When I visited Bruges-la-Morte, someone told me this story about love and how true love builds dams and lakes for the beloved one. Like Stromberg, I could hardly sleep, but for different reasons. I had no one to love. I was alone in the world.
Now, the night which followed on the day I first heard this story was the most disturbed and horrifying night I have ever experienced. Again and again I woke from a dreadful nightmare, trembling with fear and convinced that I had been visited by the succubus of the dead girl Minna.
It had nothing to do with the involuntary and commonplace act of a sexual nightmare, this vision that is blotted out at the moment when the sleeper clasps an amorous form in a passionate embrace.
What made this experience so terrible, was that it happened as in nature, differing only in degree: it was long and complete, accompanied by every detail and sensation - and an orgasm as an incredible spasm of a painful acuteness.
And apart from the fact that certain caresses could only happen in reality, there was the curious circumstance of the sensation, clear and precise, of sinking into the decaying flesh of this lovely Minna who had risen from Love Lake as a fluidic form covered with water lilies.
It always started with the vision of a beautiful young girl who instantly aroused me with her sweet caresses. While she was slowly absorbing me, she started to murmur something, softly, almost not audible:
‘Do you know that after we are dead, our corpses are devoured by different kinds of worms? It all depends if you’re fat or thin… In fat corpses one species of maggot is found, the rhizophagus, while thin corpses are patronized only by the phora. The latter is evidently the aristocrat, the fastidious gourmet that turns up its nose at a heavy meal of copious breasts and juicy fat bellies. Just think, there is no perfect equality, even in the manner in which we feed the worms…’
And then she disappeared with the sound of a whip cracking close by at the very moment of my awakening, leaving only her foul breath on me, the awful smell of rotten meat from a corpse that had been so near that the sheet, disarranged by its flight, was still in motion…
More true stories of Bruges-la-Morte
- Bruges-la-Morte, by Georges Rodenbach
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- The Dolls of Death
Look how Our Lady of Lust comes dancing to the tunes of this little serenade, straight through the front wall of D the most haunted house of Bruges-la-Morte. Look how this carriage with its two dark horses...
- The Holy Blood of Bruges, a New Jerusalem
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- The Holy Sepulchre of Bruges-la-Morte
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- The Code of the Holy Blood
In 1890, the French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans wrote to a young Dutch novelist he was searching for a real demonic priest of Satan... who turned out to be the chaplain of the Holy Blood Chapel in Bruges.