If you happen, wondrous traveller, to find yourself roaming by the moonlight and chance upon the ruins of a castle or wet your feet in a cooling river or ocean waters, beware of the enchanting, warm voice beckoning you to come closer and hear its sultry plea with promises of riches and eternal flesh made human again, to be forever yours.
There are enchanted Moors in the land of Portugal and if you can not bring them salvation, they will most certainly bring you doom.
Moorish Maidens or Enchanted Moorish Maidens are fantastic spirits and according to traditional folktales and legends, they are princesses of great beauty and are known to be dangerous seductresses.
They are obliged to live in certain places, in a supernatural stupor until a certain chain of events releases them from their curse and most stories do speak of the incidents that made them become spellbound, the main ones being that the Maidens fell in love with Christians and by consequence were forsaken and cursed by their families, or as daughters of Moors with magical powers who depart in warring campaigns against their enemies, are left eternally enchanted as means to protect the treasures their fathers left behind.
The ways to free a Moorish Maiden from her enchantment are usually also revealed – by the Maiden herself, as she uses all her charms and otherworldly beauty to make those that hear her feel tempted into aiding her, while ignoring the risks. These usually involve tasks that range from an apparent simplicity to tricky demands such as offering a salt-less bread, milk, to proclaiming certain words and resisting the urge to look at a curiosity inducing matter and of course, giving the Maiden a kiss.
To fail completing these tasks means doubling the enchantment on the Maiden, dooming her forever and losing her and the treasures she is guarding, not to mention putting your life at risk as well.
It’s in the south of Portugal, due to the historical Moorish invasions that these tales and legends became intertwined with the origin of city names and castles which were built by the Moors. Although a Christian country, paganism was a normal happening and the supernatural mixed with the real to create these folktales about amazing treasures and the tragic Maidens that guard them for eternity.
To this day, many believe they still haunt several places (especially in the region of Algarve), maybe a means to keep some modern Indiana Jones away.
But are Enchanted Moorish Maidens truly just related to Moorish princesses?
Then, what of the Marwo of Celtic origins, present in northern Portuguese folklore and Galicia, way before these lands ever saw a Moorish invader?
That will be a subject we will gladly share with you on a future post, where we shall compare these mystical, beautiful Maidens that populate Portugal’s rich folklore! This was a particularly charming theme to illustrate and we tried to mix both the mysticism of the Maiden and her sultry charm with the danger that lurks if you pay attention and don’t fall for her charms right away.
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