“water remembers the names of her drowned. / water remembers me.” -jasmine Sierra
All mythologies and religions possess their own version of a mermaid. A transcendental, mysterious woman who lures you to your death. She who is connected with the water and the depths. In Slavic mythos, a rusalka (plural: rusalki) is an alluring young woman who dwell in bodies of water and entice men to their deaths.
The concept of the rusalki originated from ancient pagan folklore, and the rusalki weren’t all that ill-intended. They were beautiful bringers of fertility and life, giving moisture and water to the forest and foliage every spring. They were also believed to aid crops in being plentiful and healthy. However, somewhere around the 19th century, the rusalki were vilified. Thus transformed into the alluring, dangerous nymphs most know of them today.
The origins of rusalki are said to be of young women who died violent deaths, and thus become a water spirit. The rusalki haunt rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes, and other bodies of water. They are described as being beautiful yet haunting, and possessing long stringy hair. The rusalki crawl out of the water in order to vex a young man, and then lure him to his death with her guiles.
The story of the mermaid and siren is one we all know and resonate with. This tale stems from the fear of the unknown, the water, and of women. They are symbolic of passion and letting lust control you, rather than your wits. This archetype is known as the siren, the anima, and the seductress. Some see this archetype as a fearful response to women, but others allow it to empower them.