In Catalan mythology, an Aloja, also known as a dona d’aigua, a goja or a paitida…is a female cryptid, living in places of fresh water. These “water-women” are said to be able to shapeshift into blackbirds.
According to the legend found on Wikivisually, these women are not immortal, but can live for thousands of years, retaining their youth.
Water-women symbolize the fertility and the life-giving virtues of water. They are said to possess oneiric beauty.
They appear as small and innocent women, with a high self-esteem and sometimes very prideful of their beauty. They are good women and try to bring wealth and well-being to the areas they live in. Water-women are nocturnal; have shimmering gold or red hair, and emerald or deep blue eyes. They wear fine, rich clothes; and enjoy viewing their reflections in lakes on full-moon nights. Some of them are said to have beautiful wings of various colors. Many are said to carry magic wands carved from hazel, which is considered to be the only wood capable of casting spells. ✨
There are many legends about romance and marriage between water-women and humans; in order to marry a water-woman, a human must agree to the water-woman’s conditions. Often, one of the conditions is that the husband cannot reveal that his wife is an Aloja. If he does, the water-woman leaves him and disappears with his fortune. However, it is also said that the water-woman will still comb her children’s hair and dress them every morning.
Aloja are purported to knowingly avoid any relations with humans, though this is not always possible.
When contact with humans does occur, it often turns out ill for the humans. It is said that the lakes where the Aloja bathe, can boil in anger if a stranger enters there. In Majorca, the most famous water-woman is known as Maria Enganxa.
According to tradition, she lives inside all of the wells and cisterns and takes all of the children that pass near them with her hook. She is not a kind Aloja.
Catalan myths and legends are passed down for generations, of course, as part of that region’s popular culture. In Catalonia those characters that are invoked to induce fear in children for practical purposes, for example to avoid speaking to strangers or leaving home alone are called Espantamainades (Espantachiquillos).
At the anthropological level, sometimes these are manifestations of the fears of the unknown and inexplicable in nature. Some are local representations related to those figures also existing in other cultures, such as witches, Goblins and the bogeyman. Others are purely local variations, such as Marraco the peasant and the Dips.
The Aloja is a local representation. She can be a “good guy,” or a “bad guy,” but always is beautiful, vain and territorial.
Your writing prompt is this, you are in Majorca, or Mallorca, which is the largest island in the Balearic Islands, and are part of Spain; located in the Mediterranean.
The capital of the island, Palma, is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. The Balearic Islands have been an autonomous region of Spain since 1983.
You find yourself on a hike, past a lovely freshwater lake. It’s picturesque, with black water birds flying in a circular pattern, just inches above the water. You stop to watch their dancing. Suddenly they shapeshift into many Alojes and seem to be fighting amongst themselves. You hear the most beautiful, alpha Aloja say;
“I’ve had enough of your clumsiness, you are not to leave here again, because I can’t trust your judgement.”
…and then you see him…a love struck human man, with a camera around his neck…a journalist type. His face is set in a way that makes him seem years younger than he probably is. He looks forlorn…and then sullen as the group of women continue to ignore him. He leaves and you continue watching. The Aloja who is seemingly in trouble…for reasons that are unimaginable, is put into a bird cage and hung high in a tree…you watch in wonder as the caged black bird flaps it’s beautiful wings…trying to free itself of the cage.
What did she do, and who is the human man, who is so sullen?
You get the impression, that the Aloja is in severe danger…but why? Your skin prickles and you see the alpha pointing her hazel wand at the caged bird. What happens next?
If you find this article fun and interesting and you decide to expand on this story -let me know how it continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!