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Russian Water Folklore

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Known as undying shape-shifters who live in the water, the Rusalki are mythical Russian creatures, representing feminine importance and divinity. Water itself takes on the form of whatever contains it, and gives life.

It can also take life by drowning. In this way, the Rusalki protects its feminine youth. They were known in stories to lure men into the water with their beauty only to drown them. It is in this way that Russian Folklore was trying to protect its young women from dishonor by men. They can also appear as swans or ducks or other waterfowl.

Many Russian villages would have a ceremony around the time of Pentecost (a Jewish harvest celebration) in which they would offer their crops put together in the shape of a woman’s body into the river as a sacrifice in order to continue productive farming. The women would take turns for about a week to sing songs to evoke consistent rains for the year.

The main point of these stories is to drive home the point of life’s cycle, birth and death, of which water has always been a part. (Reference: Parabola Magazine Vol. 34 No. 2)

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