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Fata Morgana, Fairy and Sorceress from Ancient Legends

Many visitors ask questions about the unusual name of our restaurant. Some of them have heard about some special kinds of mirages and optical phenomena which are called Fata-Morgana. Some visitors associate our name with a novel of the same name by Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi, who lived in Vinnytsia. And there is the image of a mystical castle Fata-Morgana beyond the clouds that was vividly described in the famous fairy-tale by Hans Christian Andersen «The Wild Swans»:

When the sun rose higher, Elisa saw before her a mountainous land, half floating in the air. Its peaks were capped with sparkling ice, and in the middle rose a castle that was a mile long, with one bold colonnade perched upon another. Down below, palm trees swayed and brilliant flowers bloomed as big as mill wheels.

She asked if this was the land for which they were bound, but the swans shook their heads. What she saw was the gorgeous and ever changing palace of Fata Morgana. No mortal being could venture to enter it.

As Elisa stared at it, before her eyes the mountains, palms, and palace faded away, and in their place rose twenty splendid churches, all alike, with lofty towers and pointed windows. She thought she heard the organ peal, but it was the roll of the ocean she heard. When she came close to the churches they turned into a fleet of ships sailing beneath her, but when she looked down it was only a sea mist drifting over the water. Scene after scene shifted before her eyes until she saw at last the real country whither they went...

So what a castle it was and whom did it belong to? Indeed Morgan Le Fay or Fata Morgana (from Italian word fata - fairy) is an enchantress from the legends about King Arthur. In different sources her name is spelled in many ways: Morgan le Fay, Morgane, Morgaine, Fata Morgana and others.

Morgan Le Fay appeared obviously in the Celtic mythology (in the Welsh mythology particularly). The epithet fairy indicates that Morgana was given supernatural abilities. Even her name «Morgan» could be connected with myths about Morgens or Morgans (Mari-Morgans), Welsh and Breton spirits of water. According to other sources Morgana was connected with Welsh goddess Modron who was described in the ancient Welsh cicle of tercets «Welsh Triads» as the daughter of Afallach, King of the Otherworld and the wife of Urien, Ruler of Rheged. In the medieval novels and legends Morgan Le Fay was often introduced as the wife of King Urien and the mother of Yvain, Knight with the lion. On the whole it is entirely possible that the image of Morgan Le Fay developed from the image of the Celtic goddess. The proof of it can be found even in the 14th century, in the poetic opus about the Knight of the Round Table, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight..

After the Norman Conquest of the South Italy the image of Fairy Morgana (Fata Morgana) appeared in the Italian folklore too. In medieval novel «Floriant et Florete» it is told that Morgana's house «Montegibel» is situated in the Sicilian Mountains. The late Italian folklore describes Morgana living on Etna. By the way the first unusual mirages called «Fata-Morgana» appeared on the Sicilian coast.

She shaped helself...unto a great marble stone... Arthur Rackham, 1917

Well, the generalized image of Fairy Morgana, which had been changing through centuries and in different lands shows us a woman-sorceress, healer able to compete with the rulers of this and the other world. She had magic power and was able to do magic transformations. So we can read in the knight novel by Thomas Malory «Le Morte Darthur» about king Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table:

When she saw she must be overtaken ,
she shaped herself, horse and man,
by enchantment unto a great marble stone

Fata Morgana inspired many artists of the past and present to create a really changeable, able to do incredible transformations and mysterious image in their works.

More pictures about Morgan Le Fay see in gallery...