Goddess of nightmares
“When, under Hades’ semblance, Zeus divine deceived with guileful arts dark Persephone. Hence, partly black thy limbs and partly white, from Hades dark, from Zeus ethereal bright. Thy coloured members, men by night inspire when seen in spectred forms, with terrors dire; now darkly visible, involved in night, perspicuous now they meet the fearful sight.”
: -Orphic Hymn 71
A chthonic goddess, Melinoë is connected to the underworld. She was the daughter of Persephone and Zeus when Zeus disguised himself as Hades and laid with Persephone. When Hades learned of the pregnancy and betrayal by his brother, rage turned him against the child. When she was born, however, she had the immaculate beauty of her mother, and Hades’ heart was softened. He raised her as his own, and with this upbringing, myth says Melinoë’s body was half black and half white, reflecting the good and evil of her parentage.
Many inhabitants of the underworld were masters of the dream. Melinoë was as well. Her father Hades taught her it’s ways, although she came to it naturally where he was learned.
As goddess of nightmares and ghosts, she sought those black storms in the dream world, sought them and bent them to her will, crafting horror stories the human dreamer could never imagine themselves.
Sometimes, that person would wake insane, and whether Melinoë did it on purpose is unknown. Her father was strict however, demanding that she leave nightmares alone or be banned from Tel’aran’rhiod forever. But even he could not control her abilities, and despite what love she held for her stepfather, she defied his wishes as she battled the good and evil within her.
She drives mortals to madness with her airy phantoms,
As she appears in weird shapes and forms,
Now plain to the eye, now shadowy, now shining in the darkness,
And all this in hostile encounters in the gloom of night.
A magical bronze tablet was able to placate Melinoë, able to thwart her manipulation of nightmares or even drive her out of one.
It is triangular in shape, with a hole in the center, presumably for suspending it over a surface.
She goes by Mara.
The most common English name is of course “nightmare,” stemming from the Anglo-Saxon “mara,” which translates to “crusher.” The fiendish mara looks like a small elf or imp, much like the chest squatter from Henry Fuseli’s famed painting. Other species of nightmare, however, take on wilder forms…