While growing up in Albuquerque, NM; the fear of La Llorona (pronounced “LAH yoh RoH nah”), also known as The Weeping Woman, was a fear instilled into me to the point where you would never see my happy little monkey butt playing by rivers or arroyos (ditches) at night as a child.
There is no established date of when the legend of La Llorona took place. However the origins of the story came from Mexico and has spread all over the southwestern parts of the United States with many variations to the Legend.
The retelling that I still remember from my childhood of the La Llorona starts in a small village in Mexico. In this village lived a very attractive woman named Maria with vanity over surpassing her beauty. All gentlemen suitors were rejected when trying to court Maria, until one day a very handsome man, son of a very wealthy ranchero, rode into town on his horse. When this man first laid his eyes on the very beautiful Maria, he was convinced that this was the woman that he wanted to marry. For awhile at first, Maria played hard to get by ignoring this handsome wealthy gentleman. She would refuse to speak to him by not giving him the time of the day. She also rejected all of his elaborate gifts that were presented to her to win her affection.
Long story short, they were married and had two children together. They were perceived to be the happiest family in the area. Then after a few years after the children were born, the ranchero started to leave home more and more to suit his embedded wild frontier lifestyle. When returning on occasions the man started to ignore Maria and would only spend time with his children. On the last visit home the wealthy ranchero came back with another woman in his carriage. The man told Maria that he was leaving her for this woman who was from a wealthier class. As the newlyweds rode off Maria became furious and grabbed her children and took them for a walk to a nearby river. While they were walking down the bank of the river, Maria’s anger was festering from within and boiled over. Out of rage she grabbed her children by the arms and threw them into the river. Maria stood by the river watching the strong currents pulling her children away to their watery deaths. After realizing what she had just done, Maria started running down the river bank crying out to her children. Maria ran as fast as she could but could not keep up with the speed of the currents. While running and trying to shorten the gap to her children, she tripped and fell face first hitting her head on a rock and died.
To this day, if children dare to play near any form of rivers they might hear the sounds of a crying woman in white yelling out for her children. And if these foolish young souls stay long enough, she will take them as her own.
Other variations of the La Llorona portray her children to be spoiled little brats and after her husband left her the little monsters misbehaving is supposedly what triggered Maria’s rage that caused her to kill her children. Another version of the La Llorona tale states that she married a conquistador and when she was dumped for another woman of higher status her Aztec blood threw her into madness and she killed her children. After killing her children she went on a mission to rid all European colonists by killing men, women, and children as an act of vengeance against the intruders of her land from overseas. She was portrayed to be wearing black clothing, a blank expression on her face, and having long fingernails. She would carry out her conquests of eliminating European colonists at night.
Like any other ghost story, the La Llorona legend is used as a scare tactic to keep children from danger. Whether it is to keep them from playing around bodies of water or to get them to come home before it gets dark. The story is also used to get a child to behave. If a child acts like a brat, La Llorona would be the threat used to redirect the child’s behavior.
La Llorona – A Mexican Ghost Story | donQuijote. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://www.donquijote.org/culture/mexico/society/customs/la-llorona
Challenging and Redefining the Myth of La Llorona. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://www.csusm.edu/news/topstories/articles/2012/10/tsLaLlorona.html
Fuller, A. (n.d.). The evolving legend of La Llorona. Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://www.historytoday.com/amy-fuller/evolving-legend-la-llorona
LA LLORONA. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2016, from https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lxl01
Weiser, K. (n.d.). La Llorona – Weeping Ghost of the Southwest. Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://www.legendsofamerica.com/gh-lallorona.html
Hayes, J. (n.d.). LA LLORONA – A HISPANIC LEGEND. Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://www.literacynet.org/lp/hperspectives/llorona.html