Tag Archives: warrior

Siren Legend

Genre: Folk Narrative – Legend


“When I was younger, I heard this legend about a warrior who lived in Scotland during the height of the medieval wars. Despite his skill in battle, the warrior was lonely and wanted a woman to love.

“One day, in the midst of a battle, this beautiful woman appeared at the crest of a hill and began walking across the field, somehow making it through unscathed. The warrior was immediately entranced by her and felt like he was hallucinating. Even though it was foggy and cold, the woman wore no clothing, and the warrior longed to discover what was hidden beneath her long, dark hair.

“When the woman finally made it to him, the warrior no longer cared about the battle happening around him: he only had eyes for this beautiful, mysterious woman. Her eyes were as blue as the sea, and when she opened her lips to speak, inviting him to follow her down to the beach, he found himself powerless and unable to resist. She led the way out of the battlefield and down to the ocean, where each step into the water seemed to make her even more beautiful.

“But by the time the warrior realized that there was something dangerous to her beauty, it was too late: the water transformed the irresistible woman into a creature of the sea. She dragged the warrior into the ocean, and despite his strength, he was unable to fight back. The woman, who in her true form was a siren, drowned the warrior and feasted on his remains before disappearing back into the sea to wait for the next man she would make her meal.”


“My great-uncle was a big storyteller, and he was really into mythology about all sorts of creatures and stuff from different cultures. He spent a year living in Scotland after college, and while he was there, he heard this story from a local tour guide. I’m sure the story I ended up hearing was different from the one he originally heard because he likes to embellish things and give stories his own flair. But I think this was kind of his way of warning me not to be stupid and leave everything behind for a girl just because I think she’s beautiful.”


I agree with the informant’s interpretation of the legend – that it is a warning to not become entranced by a woman just because of her attractiveness. There is also an undertone of a warning to not leave behind your life when something suddenly appears to be better – similar to the idea that “the grass is greener on the other side.”

I also think that it is interesting to consider the dilution of this legend from an original Scottish form to what seems to likely be Americanized. In Scottish mythology, the “equivalent” of what here is called a siren is really a selkie. The main difference between the two is sirens are sometimes considered synonymous with mermaids and are known to entrance men through magical song, while selkies are shapeshifters with a human and seal form. Both are typically depicted as seductive in their human forms, though selkies are considered to have more of a dual nature, while sirens primarily lean toward violence.

La Cacica de Moca

LV is my grandmother, who was born in Moca, Puerto Rico. Her father was from Aguadila, Puerto Rico. Her mother was from Moca, Puerto Rico. Moca is a small town that’s 50 miles away from the major cities. It’s known for its landscapes and agriculture. LV lived there until she was 17 years old and now resides in Chicago, Illinois. She only speaks Spanish, but the following is translated into English in literal form.


DO (Interviewer): Thank you for telling me so many stories from your childhood. Do you have any from later on that you remember. Maybe specifically ones about Moca. 

LV: La Cacica, Ana (The Female Chief, Ana). 

DO: What did Ana do?

LV: She was a leader of the Taíno who fought against them when they came. 

DO: Who are “they”?

LV: The Spanish. The conquistadors. Ana was known as being powerful. She used her knowledge to outsmart them, but she was also smart. She fought them hard. She led the fights and she won. But, they got her. And she died. Many say she still wanders the forests. The ones you see right about the town. 

DO: Why was Ana’s story one that you remembered?

LV: She taught me pride. I was proud to be from Moca. I was proud to be morenita (translates to brown-skinned). I was proud to be a woman. She believed in fighting for what is right. There is a festival to honor her now.


As my grandmother said, this legend is one of pride and honor. Ana represented the Taínos who often get overlooked in modern Puerto Rican culture or stories. When Spain came to conquer Puerto Rico and its land, people like Ana’s character stood up in the midst of oppression. There is a festival that happens every year to showcase Moca’s culture and history, and Ana is celebrated. This legend encourages resistance, resilience, and pride in not only the town but in its Taíno roots. While the Spanish may have conquered Puerto Rico, stories like these teach the importance of remembering those who fought for the island. Today Puerto Rico still struggles to gain independence and representation, allowing characters like Ana de Moca to serve as an inspiration even in modern times. 

The Warrior and the Hawk

My dialogue with this informant started right after I finished collecting from another informant.  He was insistent that he had a story his dad had told him a few times when he was younger, and for some reason he always remembered it.  The informant is a freshman at USC and grew up in Southern California. This is what he told me.

Alright, so the story started out with this great warrior that had just finished a long and gruesome battle.  He was tired, hungry, and thirsty and wanted to get home as quickly as possible so he decided to separate from the group and take his own way home because he new the land very well.  But the warrior wasn’t traveling alone because he had his hawk with him that traveled with him everywhere.  After walking for a while the warrior found a stream and decided to stop and take a drink because he was so thirsty.  But the stream was moving super slow so the warrior could only get one drop at a time.  While the warrior was waiting to fill his cup his hawk flew above him, probably looking for prey.  Finally the warrior filled his cup, but as he raised it to his mouth his hawk swooped down and knocked it from his grasp.  This happened a second time and the warrior was so pissed he drew his sword and threatened to kill the hawk if it spilled his water again.  A third time the hawk knocked the cup free, only to be struck down and killed immediately by its master.  The warrior was so impatient, he decided to climb the rock and find the water source.  When he finally reached the top, he saw a poisonous snake lying dead in the water.  He realized that he had killed his best friend, when the hawk was only trying to save his life.  From then on he would never act out of rage.

After hearing this story I felt like I recognized it but couldn’t quite pin point where from.  I thought it was interesting that the number three showed up, which is so common in children stories.  Unfortunately the informant had no idea where his dad had heard it from so the origin is tough to trace.  However I did do a search online and found pretty much the exact same story but with Genghis Khan so maybe it originated there, or at least we know its at least that old.

Here is the link: http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=baldwin&book=fifty&story=king


Form of Folklore: Folk Narrative (Legend)

Informant Bio: The informant was born and raised primarily in Glendale, California; he only left the United States for a two year period (from age fourteen to fifteen) to live in London, England. Most of his knowledge of folklore is from his mother (of Irish decent), his father (of Persian-Armenian decent), and media such as the internet and television. Context: The interview was conducted in the living room of another informant’s house in the presence of two other informants.

Item: Well um… this is one of the Irish legends my mom used to tell me about. About a young warrior named Setanta, who’s kind of an Irish hero. And he was raised by his father to be the greatest hunter, the greatest fisher, that there ever was, you he was kinda one with the wilderness… great in all these areas. And he had this ambition of joining the Red Branch Knights… a kind of mythical Irish heroes, that weren’t kinda named individuals, just like an order of great knights of the land heroes. And when he becomes old enough, his father gives him… um… I think a sling and a magic ball that he’s got to go into the wilderness and kind of prove himself before he becomes a member of the Red Branch Knights. And while he’s going, he happens across a dog. And the dog is really aggressive and territorial and he fights the dog and kills it with the sling and the ball. And it turns out that this is a famous dog, this famous guard dog of the area of Cullan, this is the official… the hound of Cullan. He’s just killed this famous dog in combat. And the owner of the dog, the lord of the castle, comes out, he’s like “what’s going on, you just killed my dog”. And because he’s such an honorable soldier, been trained so well by his father, he offers to take the guard dogs place. Setanta, he assumes the name of Cuchulain, he becomes the hound of Cullan, guarding the place. And this kinda cements his legend and lets him join the Red Branch Knights later on. It’s a nice Irish hero story.

Informant Comments: The informant’s mother told him about this legend. He believes that there is some partial truth to the tale. Most likely, he thinks, the Red Branch Knights probably existed but were glorified in the legend out of proportion; their doings and achievements seeming more than in reality. He believes it is possible for Setanta to have existed and to have become the hound of Cullan, but does not have any reason to say that his legend is completely true or completely untrue.

Analysis: This legend is famously told in Ireland and amongst Irish communities. Honor, respect, and strength are key elements in the legend of Cuchulain. According to the legend Setanta was raised to be strong and to become a member of the Red Branch Knights (an honorable position). This is physical strength, which is also apparent when he is able to kill the large hound. Beyond physical strength, inner strength, respect and honor are demonstrated by Setanta when he offers to take the hound’s place. Whether the legend of Cuchulain is true or not, it is clear that the legend is intended to uphold virtues of having inner and physical strength, honor, and respect.

Annotation:  The legends of Cuchulain can be found in “Mythastrology:  Exploring Planets and Pantheons” by Raven Kaldera (page 203).