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Myths and Legends Pop Culture

The Rusalky of the Ukraine

Rusalka by Ashly Lovett

According to the legends in the Ukraine, the Rusalky, Rusalka or mermaid was a young, attractive water nymph who adorned her long green or blonde hair with wreaths made of marsh. Perhaps, the most prominent features of a Rusalky was their almost translucent skin and their eyes that were a green fire. They also have the ability to transform into animals, whenever it pleases them.

The Rusalky were the souls of drowned girls and unbaptized children, who reside in underwater crystal palaces for majority of the year, until springtime.They would however, emerge from the water on Rusalka Easter (six or seven weeks after Christian Easter), where they would come to land to dance and play.

In early June, during Rusalka Week, is when the Rusalky is said to be at their most dangerous. It is said, that during this time of year, people avoid swimming, in fear of being pulled underwater by the water nymphs.

When a Rusalky, is on land, they appear to be beautiful, lighthearted young girls, but they aren’t. They are dangerous creatures, especially towards humans. It is said, that a Rusalky had the power to enthrall a man with her voice, and would then proceed to drown or tickle him to death. She could also kill a man with her sensual laugh.

If a man wanted to protect himself from the Rusalky, he would wear an amulet made of wormwood or lovage, or carry pieces of lucky cloth.

The Rusalky are in many ways, the classic mermaid. They’re beautiful, yet dangerous creatures.

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Myths and Legends Pop Culture

The Legend of Moana-Nui-Ka-Lehua

Official Disney Moana movie still

Did you know that Disney’s 2016 film Moana is based on a Polynesian legend?

Moana-Nui-Ka-Lehua was a Polynesian water goddess/mermaid, who resided in the ocean between the two islands Hawaiian islands of K’aui and O’ahu. It was Moana’s duty to guard the Ka’ie’ie Channel with the help of two two shark gods named Kuna and Kahole-a-Kane.

According to some legends, Moana appeared as a fish, while in others she was as a half-human half-fish hybrid (mermaid). Moana had the power to summon storms whenever she wanted.

Official Disney Moana movie still

Moana according to legend, wasn’t always the well-mannered goddess as depicted in Disney’s film version of Moana. Like many other deity’s and goddesses, Moana was mischievous and playful.

Moana prevented the volcano/fire goddess Pele from being with her human Lohiau by brewing a storm, so that the couple couldn’t go beyond the reef to be married.

However, there was one god, who could match Moana and that was Maui. Moana met the fisherman god, Maui (the island of Maui is named after him), when she found him fishing in her waters. She snatched his fishhook from the rock it was sitting on.

Maui, was known for being a trickster god and wasn’t going to take Mauna stealing his fishhook lightly. So, he pursued Moana, until he was able to capture her. Maui, then brought Moana to shore, where she passed away. Maui, paid his respects to the mermaid goddess by burying her body and built a shrine in her honor. Moana’s spirit was metamorphosed into a oli’a lehua, which is one of Hawaii’s most sacred trees.

 

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Myths and Legends

What is a Selkie?

Statue of the Selkie or the Seal Wife in Kalsoy, Faroe Island

In Ireland, Scotland, and England, there are mythical creatures called the Selkies. The Selkies or Seal Wives would have a seal-like skin in the water and would shed their seal-skin, whenever they surface on land. The word Selch in Scottish means seal.

The Selkies, like mermaids, had the ability to breathe underwater. For a Selkie, the sea was their one true home.

According to Welch legend, a Selkie was born on land, but chose to live in the sea. A female Selkie was revered for her stunning voice and alluring beauty.

A Selkie could only stay on land, for a short duration of time. They could only have a relationship with one human at a time and if they were to marry a human, they would have to keep their Selkie identity a secret. The reason, why they would have to keep their Selkie identity a secret, would be the fear that their magic pelts would be stolen from them and could no longer return to the sea.

Statue of the Selkie or the Seal Wife in Kalsoy, Faroe Island

Unlike some cultures, that believed that the mermaid was a sign of bad luck; the Welch, Irish, and Scottish, believed a Selkie was a sign of good luck. For fishermen, a Selkie was said to have brought them a bountiful catch.

A Scottish clan, named the Macdorum is believed to be descendants of the Selkies. The family has been said to be seals during the day and shape-shift into humans in the evening.