Monster Monday: Melusine

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about Melusine.

Heinrich Vogeler, Melusinenmärchen (1901)
Heinrich Vogeler, Melusinenmärchen (1901)

Melusine is a female fairy-like water spirit in Western European, especially French, folklore. She is a human from the waist up, but from the waist down, she is a fish or a serpent. Sometimes she is also depicted as having bat-like wings or two fishtails, or both.

According to most of the legends, a nobleman riding in the woods one day comes upon a beautiful woman named Melusine. He pursues her, and when he captures her, she agrees to marry him on the condition that she must have one day a week, usually Saturday, of complete privacy in order to have her bath.

In many of the stories, she uses her magic to build the nobleman a beautiful castle. Soon, however, the nobleman is overcome with curiosity, and hides himself in Melusine’s chambers so he can watch her take her bath. When he sees her in her true form, he gasps, and she discovers him. She lets out a wail and transforms into a dragon, then flies away never to be seen again. Sometimes, the castle is also destroyed.

Also, in certain legends, she returns once every several years, looking for another to marry her.



2 thoughts on “Monster Monday: Melusine

  1. Steven M. Long June 2, 2015 / 7:32 pm

    There are a lot of stories that involve the beautiful maiden that turns out to be supernatural. It’s hard not to see them as a warning, i.e. “the beautiful maiden may not be what she seems.” Thanks for the post!

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