It was believed in Slavic mythology that a Rusalka was much like a mermaid or siren of sorts leading men astray. They often dwelled in waterways, and as such would be considered a water nymph or type of succubus. Her main purpose is, however, to lure young men, seduced by either her looks or her voice, into the depths of different types of waterways
These occurrences happened during a specific time period known as Rusalka Week or Rusal’naia Week. All of this would take place upon first the first week of June.
The fascinating thing is a certain ritual was set in place, which consisted of creating effigies of the Rusalka afterwards destroying them. From doing this, they would appease the dangerous spirits with offerings and music. The men would decorate themselves with garlic and walnuts to ward off any interests; whereas the women would leave their hair unwashed.
The Rusalki were believed to be fish-women. Their homes usually consisted at the bottom of rivers. As the story goes and during the middle of the night, they would wander out into the river banks and dance around in the meadows. Often in harsher areas they were wearing nearly no clothing to cover themselves and appeared as large breasted amazons.
When they saw a handsome man, the Rusalki would lure him by song and dance putting the man into a type of trance. Only then would they take them back to the river floor and at that point the man faced almost certain death. Where land was fertile, these ghostly maidens appeared naked and beautiful. In the north, they were ugly and covered in hair.
It is not clear if these women were undead or not, however in most versions of these stories, they are referred to as “the spirits of girls who died before their time”. They returned to live as spirits in the world, near where they had once lived.
While the primary place where these spirits dwelled upon their death is where they would be found, the Rusalka would wander even climbing trees sitting there singing songs and stroking their hair. It was not unusual to see several if not more of the Rusalka gathering together in circles singing in harmony.
They were referred to or nicknamed as “Willies” who were usually unmarried girls from certain neighborhoods and while alive they traveled in little bands socializing together at festivals.
Their cold-hear ted nature stems from what may have happened to them in their previous life.
After enticing men with their singing and then drowning them; they also would prey upon children also who often were lured with baskets of fruit sprinkled with nectar.
This story is captivating and quite interesting folklore.