Tag Archives: Medusa

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/.


The following informant is an 12 year old. In this account he is explaining who Medusa is and how is father used to tell them stories about her. This is a transcription of our conversation, he is identified as J and I am identified as K:

J: Our dad used to tell us the Medusa story. It’s about a women, like an evil evil women, and she has like… snakes for hair… and if you look in her eyes you turn to stone. And it happened to anyone that looked into her eyes, children, adults, anyone and you would turn to stone

K: That sounds like a scary story, how old were you?

J: He has been telling us this story for about like around 5 years old… and yeah it was more scary and had jump scares! He would tell us in a dark room and out of nowhere he would start tickling us. But it doesn’t scare me now.

K: Do you remember the story he used to tell?

J: Well no, he changes the details every time … but it always was about a women with snakes for hair that would turn you to stone if you looked in her eyes

Context: He and his sister took turns telling me stories


This reminds me of the Oral Formulic Theory, in that for the story to be effectively scary, the character of Medusa needs to remain the same. By using the mythical being and changing the formulaic (little details) the dad was able to adapt the tale as his son got harder to scare.

For another version of Medusa, here is a clip from Percy Jackson & the Olympians – Medusa’s Garden https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPjZKKV37do

The Origin of Red Coral


I was perusing a shop in Lahaina, HI that sold coral jewelry, when I asked the manager about the origins of the practice of wearing coral as jewelry.



Me: So why did people begin to wear coral for jewelry?

Informant: Well, in the Mediterranean, the practice of wearing coral, specifically red or pink coral, began in Ancient Greece.

Me: Oh?

Informant: Yes. Do you know of the legend of Medusa?

Me: Yes, it is one of the most well known myths, and she is one of the most well known monstrous figures of Greek mythology.

Informant: Yes. Well, as you must know, Medusa was a gorgon – a woman cursed by Athena who had snakes for hair and who could turn anyone to stone when they made eye contact. Perseus, the hero, was sent on a quest to kill Medusa, which he managed through the use of the gifts given to him by the gods as well as his own ingenuity.

Me: Yes, using Medusa’s reflection on his shield to know where she was without running the risk of being turned to stone.

Informant: Exactly. Well, when Perseus killed Medusa, her body was thrown into the sea, and her blood, which was pouring out of her severed neck, as she was beheaded, crystallized, hardened, ah, fossilized and became the red coral. The Greeks would harvest the red coral from the sea and make it into amulets and protective jewelry to ward off both her evil as well as evil enchantments in general.

Me: So red coral, at least for the Greeks, was originally used for protection from evil?

Informant: Yes, it was. And that’s how red coral, at least, became used for jewelry.



This story, legend, shows how myths and legends can influence a culture to the point that even today when the original purpose for using a particular substance for anything, in this case red coral for jewelry, may be more or less forgotten, or at least not widely known, a practice is still in place. People still harvest red coral and make jewelry from it, and it is now simply viewed as the same as making jewelry from silver, gold, precious, and semi-precious gems and metals. The original purpose is forgotten, but the material is still in use.


For the original myth, see Beekman, E. M.. The Posion Tree: Selected Writings of Rumphius on the Natoural History of the Indies. University of Massachusetts Press , 1981. Print. og 254. There is a translation of the passage from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and further information.