Legend of Anjana

Anjana is a type of witch in Hispanic folklore, the name perhaps being derived from Jana or Diana.While according to Cantabrian mythology they are one of the best known fairies. These witches/fairies take on the form of old women to test out the charity of human beings. They foil the cruel and ruthless Ojáncanu. In most stories, they are the good fairies of Cantabria, generous and protective of all people. In their true form they are beautiful young women, fair haired and blue-eyed, clothed in tunics made of flowers and silver stars. They carry a gold staff and wear green stockings. They watch over animals and have underground palaces full of jewels and other treasure. The touch of their staff turns everything into riches.

Illustration of Fairy by Sophie Gengembre Anderson (1869)

Oral tradition provides different explanations for the nature of the Anjana. Some say they are heavenly beings sent by God to do good deeds, and they go back to heaven after 400 years, never to return. Others, however, indicate that they are spirits of trees who take care of the forests.

Traditions state that at night during the spring equinox, they gather in the fells and dance until dawn holding hands and scattering roses. Anyone who manages to find a rose with purple, green, blue, or golden petals will be happy until the time of their death.

A Dictionary of Symbols by J.E. Cirlot;


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