First recorded in 1615 the word mystique refers to the legendary aura of power or mystery as in the mystique of Alaskan wilderness. It’s derived from the mid-14th century French adjective mystic from Old French mystique which has its roots in the Latin word mysticus who probably took it from the Greek word mystikos meaning "secret, mystic," and from mystes describing "one who has been initiated."

The noun appeared in 1679, from that came mysticism coined 1736 and by the late 1800’s both mystique and mystic were being bandied about in the everyday vernacular.

So why would the French be so interested in using this word? One reason may be due to the history of the region. In 1598, with the expulsion of the last Spanish troops from French territory, the long years of war were at an end signaling for France a period of recovery from the devastation and disruption of the Wars of Religion. That year Henry seeking to assure the domestic tranquility of the realm issued the Edict of Nantes granting freedom of religious conscious for all his subjects. Never before had a ruler formally accorded freedom of religion and worship to his or her subjects.

Prior to this there was an atmosphere of mystery and veneration attending royalty and a practice called the divine right of kings a political canon asserting that monarchy was:

    A divinely ordained institution in which kings and queens were answerable only to God. It therefore followed that it was a sin for the subjects of even the most evil or incompetent monarchs to disobey them.
The doctrine develop in the middle ages, partly to strengthen the hand of monarchs in their dealings with parliaments as well as partially in response to intrusions by the Pope into national affairs. It may well have been these mystical, aspects of the doctrine that can be seen as the anointed king creating a sacerdotal character leading to all the discussion of the surrounding air of mystery. During this time this mystique became personified and reflected in such practices ‘laying on of hands’ of sorts. Believers ascribed to royalty the hereditary power of curing a disease called the king's evil or scrofula what was probably a form of tuberculosis. A cure was bestowed upon the victim by touching them. This practice was eventually introduced in England from France by Edward the Confessor where James I revived the custom of touching sufferers Under Charles II a religious ceremony was commonly linked with the practice of divine right.
    Dynastic rivalry dominated the 15th century (see War of the Roses) and the Tudor monarchs were persistently troubled by plots and the question of the succession. The Tudors, however, gained much from their exploitation of the mystique of kingship (`your majesty' replaced `your grace' as the title of address), from their manipulation of anticlericalism into a doctrine of the royal supremacy, and from their appropriation of church land.

These auras of heightened value, interest, or meaning surrounding the people gave rise to attitudes and beliefs that imputed special power or mystery to the leaders and added to the resources of the rulers land and military service due to the king as feudal overlord. Since medieval monarchy was intensely personal, and a monarch's success depended on a combination of character, military skill, and successful exploitation of the royal estates the divine right persisted throughout Louis XIV's reign and in a less pronounced form until the French Revolution of 1789.

Conservative thinkers tried to justify the restoration of hereditary rulers throughout Europe after the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period revived the theory briefly. It was last practiced in England by Queen Anne.

Today mystique has come to mean a special esoteric skill essential in a calling or activity such as the mystique that surrounds actions, beliefs, celebrities or social groups that are admired by a large number of people.


Online Etymology Dictionary:

Market House Books Dictionary of British History,Market House Books Ltd 1987.

The Pocket Oxford Dictionary of Current English, © Oxford University Press, 1996.

Mystique was a third party producer of Atari 2600 games. Not just regular Atari games, but porno Atari games. They were not ready however to have their crude 4 color porn protested by the group, Women Against Pornography. That combined with the refusal of normal stores to carry their games, sent them out of business in a hurry.

Mystique Games
A villain published by Marvel Comics. Mystique first appeared in Ms. Marvel #16.

Raven Darkholme was born a mutant with the ability to change her shape and appearance to mimic that of any person. If she transforms herself into the physical form of a person with super-powers, she does not gain those powers. Also, she does not gain mass if she shifts into a person who is larger than she is.

Darkholme's past has never been fully revealed, but pieces of it have come to light over the years. She and the mutant Destiny were close friends and it has been hinted at that they may have been lovers, though both were women. It is also known that Darkholme has had at least two children. One of them shared her unusual appearance: blue skin and yellow eyes. This child she abandoned and he was raised by a group of gypsies. The child grew up to be the X-Man Nightcrawler.

The other child she had with Victor Creed, the mutant known as Sabretooth. Their child ended up having no mutant powers and was named Graydon. The child grew up hating his parents and what they were and became the leader of an anti-mutant group when he became an adult.

Mystique first came to the public eye when she led a group of mutants in an attempt to assassinate Senator Robert Kelly, a member of Congress who sought to enact legislation to register mutants in the U.S. This group of mutants called themselves the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Their plans were thwarted by the mutant heroes the X-Men.

During this time, it was revealed that Darkholme, who called herself Mystique, served as the foster mother for a young mutant named Rogue. Rogue had the ability to absorb the abilities and memories of those she touched, but could not control the power. While working with Mystique and the Brotherhood, Rogue absorbed the powers of the hero Ms. Marvel as well as her personality and memories. Rogue eventually left Mystique and sought help with Charles Xavier, the leader of the X-Men. This caused a rift in their relationship.

Darkholme eventually became a government agent when she negotiated a truce with Valerie Cooper, a member of the National Security Committee, for herself and the members of the Brotherhood. The group was renamed the Freedom Force and acted as government enforcers.

During a conflict with the Shadow King, a powerful evil telepath, Mystique's companion Destiny was killed. Mystique turned her back on her fellow mutants in the Freedom Force and resided with the X-Men for a time. The loss of her friend caused Mystique to have a breakdown for a time and she left the X-Men in the company of the mutant Forge. Later, when Forge took leadership of the mutant team X-Factor, who were now agents of the U.S. government, Mystique worked with them.

The character of Mystique gained a great deal of popularity when Brian Singer's vision of the X-Men was released as a movie. The character was played by model Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, a lot of blue body paint, and just enough prosthetic pieces to keep the movie ratings under an R rating.

I saw her from across the room. She was sipping red wine from a crystal glass, the light sparkling on the residue on her lips. The man beside her was deep in conversation with an elderly lady, gesticulating madly with his hands and laughing rauciously. She pushed her long auburn hair out of her deep brown eyes subconsciously and looked around the room. She took a step back and leant against the wall, her deep red dress gently swirling around her ankles as she moved, her shoulders raising in a silent sigh.
"Are you even listening to me?" said the young artist I had been talking to. He was describing the piece on display beside us.
"I'm sorry." I replied. "As I was saying.. " he continued, "I was trying to portray the lust implicit in every facet of society..." I zoned out, and glanced over to the far corner. The man was now pressed up against the elderly lady, hoarsely whispering in her ear, his cheeks flushed from the wine. There was no sign of the woman in the red dress.

"You'll have to excuse me." I interrupted the artist, now in full throttle about his debauched research. I left him there and slowly moved through the crowd. I passed more artists explaining their works laboriously, women listening to them attentively, fawning over their every word. Old ladies inspecting the paintings and discussing the immorality of modern works, their fat husbands leching and grinning at the more explicit pieces. A little girl was sitting in the corner reading a comic book, and a group of bored teenagers were trying to cajole a waiter into giving them wine.
I sighed to myself, promising internally that I'd never be persuaded to come to one of these parties again. I stepped out on the balcony for a breath of fresh air. I sucked in the frigid air, relishing the cool in my throat after the stuffy, smokey atmosphere in the gallery. I walked over and leant on the rail, gazing out over the snowy rooftops. I watched cars below, multi-coloured against the white blanket, and followed the blinking lights of the city as far as the horizon. I took out a cigarette.

"Do you think I could I have one of those?" said a lustrous feminine voice from behind me. The accent was french and thick. I turned around and leant back against the rail. She was standing in the corner of the balcony, I hadn't seen her when I came out because she was in shadow, out of the moonlight. She had been watching me staring out over the city, dreaming of her. The corner of her mouth raised in a slight ironic smile and she walked slowly towards me. As she left the shadow the moonlight lit up her face. Her small nose and full lips illuminated in the blue light. I wished some jazz would come from nowhere, a soundtrack I could take her and dance to, mingling under the stars, and kiss her gently..

I started from my reverie and took another cigarette out of the packet. I handed it to her slowly, trying to look like I'd sweep her off her feet if John Coltrane burst out of nowhere. She just smiled and took the cigarette. I took out my lighter and lit her cigarette for her, and then mine. She leant on the rail and blew smoke out over the cityscape. It was right out of a bohemian movie, beautiful girl in the moonlight, the streaming opaque smoke wafting on the breeze. she looked over at me.
"What do you do?" she asked. I cleared my throat. "I'm a journalist," I replied, "for a small magazine."
"Good." she said, and looked out over the city again. I looked at her. She smiled again, "I hate artists. So full of themselves. My husband is in there, trying to lower the price of some awful piece of trash."


She lightly dropped the end of her cigarette over the balcony and stepped back.
"It was nice to meet you." she said slowly. I stared at her. She smiled and walked back into the party. I turned around and put my elbows on the rail. I let out my breath, not knowing how long I'd been holding it. The stars twinkled away, the moonlight shone through the steam in my breath, and I sighed.

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