Which Mermaid Inspired the Starbucks Logo?
Why do people go to Starbucks every morning?
Do they enjoy spending time with the people they go there with? Or is it simply a comfort in consistency? Or do they like to go there once a day to get outside once a day?
Whatever the reason, I feel inclined to go even if the weather is bad. So I started joking with the baristas sometimes and telling them the amount of crack cocaine I want them to put into my coffee when I place my orders, and it gets good laughs.
Then one day in line, I was looking at the colourful mugs and noticed the Trademark on the bottom said, "The Siren logo is a Starbucks trademark."
So when I got home, I researched what Siren they could be referring to.
They are referring to Mélusine, and she is a mermaid. Here is the description:
Mélusine (French: [melyzin]) or Melusina is a figure of European folklore, a female spirit of fresh water in a holy well or river. She is usually depicted as a woman who is a serpent or fish from the waist down (much like a lamia or a mermaid). She is also sometimes illustrated with wings, two tails, or both.
Okay, but why does Starbucks choose Mélusine as their logo?
Well, it's impossible to tell, but below are some of the legends of Mélusine. They have picked one and used it as the inspiration for the logo or picked multiple. Or everyone can draw conclusions based on their experience with Starbucks.
Below are some of the legends of Mélusine from France, Luxembourg, Germany, and Britain. You can also find more on Google.
The first one from Germany closely matches how Westerners view Sirens: they are viewed as mermaids who kill sailors to protect the sea by luring them into the ocean with their beauty and songs.
So maybe it’s not crack cocaine in the coffee; maybe it’s just the siren logo seducing us.
Melusine by Ludwig Michael von Schwanthaler (1845)
In his Table Talks, Martin Luther mentioned Melusina of Lucelberg (Luxembourg), whom he described as a succubus or the devil. Luther believed in stories like Melusine and attributed them to the devil appearing in female form to seduce men.
The story of Melusine strongly influenced Paracelsus's writings on elementals and especially his description of water spirits. This, in turn, inspired Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's novella Undine(1811), which led to adaptations and references in works such as Jean Giraudoux's play Ondine (1939), Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Little Mermaid (1837), and Antonín Dvořák's opera Rusalka (1901).
In a legend set in the forest of Stollenwald, a young man meets a beautiful woman named Melusina who has the lower body of a snake. If he will kiss her three times on three consecutive days, she will be freed. However, on each day she becomes more and more monstrous, until the young man flees in terror without giving her the final kisses. He later marries another girl, but the food at their wedding feast is mysteriously poisoned with serpent venom and everyone who eats it dies.
Melusine legends are especially connected with the northern areas of France, Poitou and the Low Countries, as well as Cyprus, where the French Lusignan royal house that ruled the island from 1192 to 1489 claimed to be descended from Melusine. Oblique reference to this was made by Sir Walter Scott who told a Melusine tale in Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1802–1803) stating that "the reader will find the fairy of Normandy, or Bretagne, adorned with all the splendour of Eastern description". The fairy Melusina, also, who married Guy de Lusignan, Count of Poitou, under condition that he should never attempt to intrude upon her privacy, was of this latter class. She bore the count many children, and erected for him a magnificent castle by her magical art. Their harmony was uninterrupted until the prying husband broke the conditions of their union, by concealing himself to behold his wife make use of her enchanted bath. Hardly had Melusina discovered the indiscreet intruder, than, transforming herself into a dragon, she departed with a loud yell of lamentation, and was never again visible to mortal eyes; although, even in the days of Brantome, she was supposed to be the protectress of her descendants, and was heard wailing as she sailed upon the blast round the turrets of the castle of Lusignan the night before it was demolished.
Statue of Melusine near the Alzette in Luxembourg
The Counts of Luxembourg also claimed descent from Melusine through their ancestor Siegfried. When in 963 A.D. Count Siegfried of the Ardennes (Sigefroi in French; Sigfridin Luxembourgish) bought the feudal rights to the territory on which he founded his capital city of Luxembourg, his name became connected with the local version of Melusine. This Melusina had essentially the same magic gifts as the ancestress of the Lusignans. The morning after their wedding, she magically created the Castle of Luxembourg on the Bockrock (the historical center point of Luxembourg City). On her terms of marriage, she too required one day of absolute privacy each week. Eventually Sigfrid was tempted by curiosity and entered her apartment on Saturday, when he saw her in her bath and discovered her to be a mermaid. He cried out in surprise, and Melusina and her bath sank into the earth. Melusine remained trapped in the rock but returns every seven years either as a woman or a serpent, carrying a golden key in her mouth. Anyone brave enough to take the key will free her and win her as his bride. Also every seven years, Melusine adds a stitch to a linen chemise; if she finishes the chemise before she can be freed, all of Luxembourg will be swallowed by the rock. In 1997, Luxembourg issued a postage stamp commemorating her.
Melusine is one of the pre-Christian water-faeries who were sometimes responsible for changelings. The "Lady of the Lake", who spirited away the infant Lancelot and raised the child, was such a water nymph.
A folktale tradition of a demon wife similar to Melusine appears in early English literature. According to the chronicler Gerald of Wales, Richard I of England was fond of telling a tale that he was a descendant of an unnamed countess of Anjou. In the legend, an early Count of Anjou encountered a beautiful woman from a foreign land. They were married and had four sons. However, the count became troubled because his wife only attended church infrequently, and always left in the middle of Mass. One day he had four of his men forcibly restrain his wife as she rose to leave the church. She evaded the men and, in full view of the congregation, flew out of the church through its highest window. She carried her two youngest sons away with her. One of the remaining sons was the ancestor of the later Counts of Anjou, their troublesome nature being the result of their demonic background.
A similar story became attached to Eleanor of Aquitaine, as seen in the 14th-century romance Richard Coer de Lyon. In this fantastical account, Henry II's wife is not named Eleanor but Cassodorien, and she always leaves Mass before the elevation of the Host. They have three children: Richard, John, and a daughter named Topyas. When Henry forces Cassodorien to stay in Mass, she flies through the roof of the church carrying her daughter, never to be seen again.