Growing up in the United States (and being a lover of all things Fairy Tale helped, I’m sure), I heard all about the legends and stories of the Black Forest. It wasn’t a place I ever thought I’d be able to see for myself, so I was happy to be wrong when I found myself heading out on an excursion into the famous woods. I was graciously invited to visit Baden-Baden and the Black Forest region around the city this March, and it was an experience like no other. While Baden-Baden is a very luxury, high-end town filled with glamour and excitement, just a few paces away, you can step into the Black Forest and enter into a land of legends and lore. On my trip, I began a search for the mermaids of Baden-Baden.
One of the most famous Black Forest legends takes place on Lake Mummelsee, a place I was happy to visit as I searched for the mermaids of the Black Forest… The legend goes something like this…
There were mermaids that could emerge from Lake Mummelsee and walk on land throughout the day, but they had to return into the lake by 11pm (or midnight according to some accounts). One day, a farmer fell in love with one of the mermaids, so he set the clock back an hour, making the mermaid arrive late to the lake. Because of this, the late mermaid found death and the rest were cursed never to leave the lake again.
Other stories say that now you can only see the mermaids when you show up to Lake Mummelsee at midnight, but don’t get too close to the water at that time, as they will lure you down into the lake to your doom.
Another tale of Lake Mummelsee says that there was a strange little man in a fur coat made from rats who took a midwife into the depths of the lake to help assist him with the birth of his baby. After she helped, he paid her in straw which soon turned into pure gold.
Today, if you’re looking to hunt for mermaids (or just to enjoy a nice time out in nature), you can head up to Mummelsee and walk the full lake, enjoying the towering trees, the sparkling waters, and the scenic views of the nearby mountains. It makes for a lovely walk. When we were there this March, the weather was quite nice, though we could still see the remnants of the snow and ice that just touched the surface of the lake. You can sit at the restaurant there and have a nice meal, go shopping in the rustic gift shop filled with delicious treats and coo coo clocks (which are traditionally from this area), or look closely to see if you can find mermaids.
I can tell you, while you may not spot a real mermaid, there is a hauntingly beautiful mermaid statue out in the waters accompanied by a plaque that poetically says that this mermaid was brought to the surface, chosen by the king of the mer-people to stay with humans and promote goodwill. She evokes ancient, religious ideals and promotes nothing but unconditional love. Her ode of love goes a little something like this,
Listen to what our mermaid has to say and let your worries disappear into the Mummelsee.
Make a wish for something that is really important to you.
The mermaid is already smiling, have you noticed?
So, smile, too, and repeat quietly to yourself:
‘Even though I have sorrows, I will love and accept myself as I am.’”
So, even if you don’t find real mermaids in the Black Forest, I hope you are able to find yourself, have a great adventure, and feel the ancient lore of this infamous forest all around you.