Tag Archives: la siguanaba

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, https://medium.com/paperkin/what-does-it-take-to-feel-sympathy-for-a-monster-3f88a2727b0c. “The Legend of La Siguanaba.” Espooky Tales, 2020, https://www.espookytales.com/blog/the-legend-of-la-Siguanaba/.

La Siguanaba — El Salvadoran Witch



TK: Is there any legends or myths in El Salvador?

MC: Haha there’s so many but they’re scary. (Very quickly) I don’t know but my grandma used to say when you walk alone after midnight this woman comes after you with the long hair and she chases you and you couldn’t talk and you got to your house all freaking out and you get to the house and everyone is looking at you and you couldn’t talk for 24 hours because this woman touched you.

TK: So did you ever see this woman?

MC: NO! because I never was walking in the middle of the night. But they say this happens to all the guys because after the guys drop the girls off on the date they would be walking alone and see this woman and you know she was really pretty and sometimes she would look like the girl.

TK: Could she change the way she looked?

MC: Ya she looked like the girlfriend of the guys so they get confused and you know they start talking to her and then she changed to a really scary looking…

TK: A really scaring looking what?

MC: Like, you know, like an evil witch and they got scared but by that time they were already scared and touched by her and they couldn’t talk. And my grandma says they happened to a few people that she knows and the next day they start telling the story what happened to them when they could talk and not to go on that path and this woman was called La Sigwanata? (laughing) TK: What? How is it spelled?

MC: Let me spell it for you (goes and gets a pen and paper) this story has been going on for years… (spells it on paper “La Siguanaba”).

TK: Has this been going…

MC: (cuts me off) This story has been going on for generations and generations and I told this story to Nicolas (her son) and he was like ‘tell me more tell me more!’ And the story is still going on there like if you go by these trees you get touched by this woman.

TK: And that’s it?

MC: That’s it.

TK: And people know about this?

MC: Everybody (eyes widen).

TK: So this is a story?

MC: I think it’s a legend because at school it was in our books and we had to write about it.


THE INFORMANT: Maria grew up in El Salvador and therefore has different legends than the ones I grew up with in America. Her immediate recollection of this story shows what an effect it had on her growing up, as she can still recount the details and remember people it supposedly happened to that she knows.

ANALYSIS: La Siguanaba is a well-known El Salvadorian legend. Siguanaba means “horrible woman” and it is said she bore the child of a god but was an unfit mother, so the god cursed her to her fate of wandering alone at night and mostly appearing to solitary men walking alone. From behind, she looks like a beautiful long-haired woman but is actually horrifically ugly, like a witch. Some people say they can see her washing clothes in a river and looking for her son.

La Siguanaba

I don’t know if the story even I know is correct. My aunt was on a horse in Guatemala and she was alone, and it was getting late, and she was alone and scared and everyone tells the tale of the Siguanaba who is supposed to steal your horse. There was a woman in front of her with really long hair, but it was really messy, and she turned around and she was in fact la Siguanaba and the… I don’t remember the rest if I’m completely honest. She lived the tell the tale though. I know in Latin American culture parents often use this story to intimidate their children into behaving. For example, that like if you’re misbehaving the Siguanaba will come and get you.


Background: I conducted this interview live, so this story was given to me in person. The informant had heard this story from her grandmother and it was very important because he grandmother really had claimed to have seen this mythical creature so popular in Latin American culture. I also thought it was interesting how the informant kind of caught on to how parents would almost trick their children into believing these horror stories so that they could force or scare their children into behaving.