I’m chilling in Russia this week for Faerie Friday. Again. Just in case you were wondering, I plan on staying here through next week. And maybe I’ll swing on over to Japan next month, but I’m undecided. I found this great book on the Yokai. If you don’t know what the Yokai are, you’ll just have to come back and find out. J
The Rusalki are the Russian equivalents (sort of) of the Greek Naiad, i.e. hot freshwater nymphs. Okay, they aren’t hot in all the versions of the story, but for the purpose of this exercise, they are. Capisce?
In some versions, the Rusalki wear white shifts and in other, they are completely bare assed. In all stories, they have long, flowing hair. Sometimes green. They spend the winter months submerged in the depths of lakes and rivers and crawl out during the summer months.
You are going to meet one of two ends when you tangle with a Rusalki. Most commonly she uses her siren voice and her laughter to lure young men to the water where she takes them in her embrace and drowns them. The other way is a more ignominious way – she tickles you to death. Yes, I said tickle. They sing, giggle and swing from branches and when they have you in their thrall, they sneak up behind you and tickle you to death. I can just imagine the epitaph: HERE LIKES BORIS, FELLED BY A TERRIBLE TICKLE. It’s a shameful way to die, but it does play into some boyhood fantasies. They only thing that’s missing is topless pillow fights.
By “you” in the above referenced illustrations, I mean young men. She can’t be bothered with women and is very hostile toward the fairer sex. As an aside, I know women like that and they are equally as unlikable as the Rusalki. Just not as deadly.
The Russian villager has a few tricks to keep them away – charms, hanging linen in the trees, garlic, iron and crosses.
Like many faerie creatures, they Rusalki are thought of as the souls of unbaptized children, drowned maidens and unwed mothers. They are considered an unclean force deriving their allure from the devil himself. Most likely, the Rusalki are the remnants of pagan goddesses. They are used to illustrate the contrast between themselves (unclean, devilish) and Christian women (good, chaste.) The Rusalki are spirited, wear their hair flowing freely, take lovers that are not their husbands, and in general behave like naughty (albeit more dangerous) sorority girls.
Not a nice girl, but a fun girl. Okay, fun for just a minute, but fun nonetheless!