La Siguanaba

Text: “Legend says there was a beautiful woman who used her charms and the help of a witch to get the prince, Yeisun, to marry her. Yesiun went to war, and the woman had numerous affairs while the prince was gone. She then became pregnant from one of her affairs, and the child she birthed is known as El Cipitio. El Cipito’s father was actually Lucifer Morningstar. Once Yeisun comes back from war, he finds out the truth of his wife’s infidelity. He curses El Cipitio to live forever and turns his feet backwards and he also turns his ex-wife into the Siguanaba, meaning she would be the most hideous woman. La Siguanaba is a shapeshifter spirit who takes form as an attractive, long haired woman seen from the behind. She will lure men into danger without them seeing her face, specifically in the dark near a water source. She proceeds to reveal her face, which is that of a hideous woman. Some have witnessed her appearances to be a horse or a skull. She can also appear to children, in order to lure and hypnotize her victims into her grasp.”

Context: My informant – a 20-year-old woman from Los Angeles – told me this legend, pulling on the story she often heard as a child growing up in a Salvadoran household. She explained to me that this was a story she heard from her father, who actually claims to have seen La Siguanaba as a boy. She told me that when her father was seven years old, he was picking coffee beans in the forest with his father, and across the stream that divided the river, he saw a woman facing away from him. He told his father what he had seen, and his father quickly covered his eyes with a jacket and guided him home on a two hour-long journey. While walking, his father stared straight ahead, fearing glimpsing the woman across the stream with his own eyes. My informant’s father explained to her that her grandfather was terrified of him and his son being lured to their death by La Siguanaba, hence why he covered his son’s eyes and refused to turn around. My informant shared with me that her father still talks about it to this day, and he has been weary of taking his family near bodies of water where La Siguanaba might be waiting for her next victim. 

Analysis: After my informant told me of this legend, I was a little confused on what La Siguanaba’s mission or purpose was. After looking online for a little bit, I read that La Siguanaba was not only cursed to take a monstrous form, but that when unfaithful men looked upon her, they would either die or go insane. The story resembles that of Medusa very closely, and I was intrigued by the similarities and differences between their legends.

In Greek mythology, Medusa was one of the Gorgon sisters devoted to the Goddess, Athena. She was extremely beautiful, and she committed herself to a life of celibacy in order to serve as a priestess for Athena. The legend goes that one day, Poseidon – the God of the Sea – saw Medusa and was mesmerized, immediately pining for her attention. Devoted to Athena, however, Medusa rejected him, ultimately resulting in Poseidon raping her in Athena’s temple. Athena then cursed Medusa (either as a way to protect herself or as a form of punishment for her celibacy being broken) to have a head of snakes and to turn any man that looked upon her into stone. 

Like Medusa, La Siguanaba was cursed and transformed into a monstrous creature as a punishment. Yet, while La Siguanaba engaged in infidelity and had a child out of wedlock, Medusa was punished for something that was completely out of her control. Nevertheless, both legends demonstrate the fascination humans have with women being a victim of something or committing an act that isn’t considered virtuous, resulting in her being transformed into a monster that seeks vengeance on men. While La Siguanaba was indeed unfaithful to her husband, I believe that her legend and the ones that parallel her showcase the disparities between men and women and highlight the imbalance between the treatment of both genders. There aren’t any legends or stories that I can think of when a man cheats on his wife and is then turned into a monster, yet we see countless examples throughout folklore of women always being the one who is cursed when it comes to infidelity (like La Llorona). The legend of La Siguanaba gives greater insight into the ways in which gender and power intersect in society and represent broader cultural beliefs. 


Jaya, Sree. “Dangerous Beauty : The Real Story Of Gorgon Medusa.” Medium, 2021, “The Legend of La Siguanaba.” Espooky Tales, 2020,