The Melusina, or Melusine, is a mythological creature found in ancient Celtic and Medieval folklore. She was part woman and part serpent, her top half being that of a beautiful woman, with the body of a snake. The myth of such a creature is very old. Melusina is derived from Celtic water faeries or nymphs who were thought to be changelings. They could be deceiving to unsuspecting men with their beautiful song, and lure them into their magical world of water. They were sometimes referred to as mermaids and sirens.
This ancient water Goddess became quite popular in the Middle Ages particularly in North France and England. The most popular Medieval myth of the Melusina, is that with Elynas, the King of Albania, and the beautiful Fae, Pressina. One day while King Elynas was hunting, he came across a river where he stopped to get a drink. He heard a woman singing and this is when he found the Fae Pressina. He persuaded her to marry him and she agreed, on one condition, that he never enter her chamber when she gave birth or bathed her children.For if he did, there would be terrible and possible fatal consequences. Pressina ended up giving birth to triplets, all girls named Melusina, Melior, and Plantina. Upon hearing the great news, King Elynas burst into the chamber to see his new baby girls while Pressina was bathing them. She cried out that he broke his promise and she took her three girls and fled to Avalon.
After the three girls had grown into their teens, Melusina asked her mother why they had been living in Avalon. So Pressina told her the story of what her father did, and this enraged Melusina. So she and her sisters decided to capture King Elynas and lock him in a mountain. When Pressina heard of this, she became so angry, that she condemned Melusina to the form of a serpent from the waist down every Saturday, until she should meet a man who would marry her under the condition of never seeing her on a Saturday, and he should keep his promise. So Melusina went out on her search for this man that will marry her. One day in the woods, she came across a man, Raymond of Poitou, while she was sitting by a lake.
Raymond became enchanted by her beauty and asked for her hand in marriage. Melusina said yes on one condition, he was not allowed to see her bathe on Saturdays, under any circumstances. So he agreed and they married shortly thereafter. They had many children, and on one Saturday night while Melusina was bathing, her husband decided to take a peek at her because of the constant teasing he got from his brothers. What he saw amazed and scared him and he didnt say anything about it. Until one day after he had lost in a battle, when Melusinsa tried to comfort him, he pushed her away calling her a serpent and contaminator of the human race. He immediately regretted what he said, and Melusina left to wander the woods. In other myths it is said that she turned into a dragon and flew off never to be seen again.
Although this myth is Medieval in nature, the faery spirit Melusina is much older. There have been Pictish carvings found of a water Goddess/Woman with that of a serpent lower body. The Melusina and her myths resonate with me because of my love of myth and faeries, and my love of water. A powerful element that the ancients respected. So it makes sense that they would have deities of the oceans, rivers and lakes.
I hope you enjoyed learning about the magical myth of the Melusina!
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Images courtesy of the Art of Marcia Snedecor
As well as the Art of Troy Howell