rusalka

rusalka
plural rusalki

In Slavic folklore and mythology, a water nymph who embodies the soul of either a drowned virgin or a child that died unbaptized.

Details of rusalkis' appearance and behaviour vary widely, but a common feature is that the nymphs attempt to entice men. In some areas, they are the subject of a festival in the early summer, when they are thought to emerge from the water and dance by night. In Antonín Dvořák's opera Rusalka, a rusalka attempts to marry a human prince but is reclaimed by her element.

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▪ Slavic spirit
plural  Rusalki,  

      in Slavic mythology, lake-dwelling soul of a child who died unbaptized or of a virgin who was drowned (whether accidentally or purposely). Slavs of different areas have assigned different personalities to the rusalki. Around the Danube River, where they are called vile (singular vila), rusalki are beautiful, charming girls, dressed always in light robes of mist, singing sweet, bewitching songs to the passersby. The rusalki of northern Russia are ugly, unkempt, wicked, invariably naked, and always eager to ambush humans. All rusalki love to entice men—the vile to enchant them and the northern rusalki to torture them.

      During rusalki week, at the beginning of the summer, the nymphs are supposed to emerge from the water and climb into weeping willow and birch trees until night, when they dance in rings in the moonlight. Any person joining them must dance until he dies. After that week, grass grows thicker where they trod.

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