Bad Fairy Case File #304: The Xana

Lamia, by John William Waterhouse, 1909 ~ Oil on canvas, 91.5 x 57 cm

OFFENSES: Enchantment, theft, kidnapping

DESCRIPTION: Small, beautiful, long blonde hair, 

ALIAS: Inxana, Anjana

PROVENANCE: Asturian Mythology 

The Xana is a beautiful fairy said to dwell wherever pure bodies of water flow, combing her long curly hair with a comb made of sun or moonbeams, using the water as a mirror. This bad fairy may also live in a cave, safeguarding her immense collection of ill-gained treasure. The Xana reminds us of sea nymphs and nixies, who also spend time near water using their beauty to lure humans.

One of the key defining characteristics of the Xana is their thievery.  Many tales describe the Xana acquiring a plethora of earthly treasures, and many myths talk of young adventurers who unsuccessfully attempt to gain the treasure of the Xana.

Tales of Xanas also often involve the kidnapping of a human child, replacing it with their own offspring (called Xaninos). The Xana will make this swap by entering a human home through a keyhole. This child-exchanging practice is common in fairy folklore, and the affected children are called Changelings. (For more on this branch of fairy lore, FairyRoom invites you to explore our many posts on Changelings).

Xana is much like other tales of water nymphs in that she is notorious for a haunting song that can be heard echoing near her lair. Her song will fill the pure of heart with a feeling of glee and bliss; contrary to the incredible maddening anxiety it will provoke of those who are wicked and cruel.

Xana is often depicted as a desperate creature, attacking travelers for food and hiding far away from civilization. It appears she would most likely prefer to be left alone, though can be sought out by those on a greedy quest for her hoarded gold and silver; these adventures will be sorely disappointed to lose their lives at the hand of the wild and beautiful Xana.

 

MORE ABOUT THE XANA:

  • The Xana are known to keep large herds of cattle, who graze near the waters the Xana inhabits.
  • The Gorge of Xanas is a popular tourist spot in Asturias, where these creatures are said to live.