A person, place or thing?: Lorelei

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (www.sirwilliamwesley.com)

A beautiful young maiden, forlorn, jumps into the Rhine to meet her death. Now a beautiful women lures men to their deaths in that location. It is the stuff of urban legends, it’s the stuff of fairy tales, it’s Lorelei.

As the stories say, once a beautiful maiden had given her heart to a sailor, or a knight depending on who is telling the tale. The maiden’s name was Lorelei and she was beautiful in only the way maidens of folk tales can be. Lorelei dutifully awaited her love’s return, sitting on this giant rock along the Rhine weeping and praying for his safety. However, he did not return and in utter despair, Lorelei leapt into the Rhine.

Now there is a creature that lures men to their deaths at that exact rock. A beautiful woman sits atop that rock and brushes her hair and singing bewitching songs, much the way of the Sirens of Greek legend. Is it Lorelei?

There is a tale of an attempt to kill Lorelei, you know now that she’s dead and making with the vengeful spirit kind of thing. Once, the son of a Prince’s boat was destroyed and he drowned due to Lorelei. The Prince, distraught, looked for men brave enough to face Lorelei. One man was. He gathered a small group of loyal men and they set out to destroy Lorelei in retribution for their Prince.

The band of men surrounded the Lorelei rock in such a way to prevent her from fleeing along the land. As they closed in, they saw the beautiful Lorelei sitting binding her wet hair. The man explained they were there to kill her and cast her into the Rhine. Lorelei explained she was not at fault for the death of the Prince’s son, and that she would not go to the Rhine, but that it would come to her. Entranced by her beauty, the men paused. Lorelei used that opportunity to call forth the Rhine. It came up to her in a whirlwind and swept her off to safety. The men, realizing how fortunate they were that she fled decided to never again attempt to capture or kill Lorelei.

Cool legend right? Is Lorelei a ghost, a woman, a creature? How about a rock? That’s right folks; let me introduce you to another side of Lorelei.

Lorelei, or sometimes called Loreley, is a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine. This soaring rock is at the narrowest point of the river where there are very strong currents. Thanks to that and rocks below the water line many boats have accidents there. The strong currents and a small waterfall area create a murmuring sound. People say that the name Loreley comes from the German words lureln and ley, which roughly means murmuring rock or murmur rock.

Now you have a chicken or the egg kind of thing happening. Which came first, the maiden or the rock? The rock is definitely there now, but no one knows for sure if Lorelei inhabits the rock or not. Those of you who know me, know that I tend to like to believe these creatures are out there, somewhere, but in this particular instance, not so much. I hope Lorelei is just a dangerous rock, and that the legendary maiden so closely associated it with isn’t there. I hope she’s at peace.