La Llorona: A Legendary Tale








i was at my home watching the ‘La Llorona’ movie on “Netflix” and that was so amazing that I had to write about it.

La Llorona


'La Llorona' movie promotion draws criticism

No ghost tale is recounted more often, debated as excitedly, or interpreted as broadly throughout Latin America, among Spanish-speaking communities in the United States, and notably in Mexico, as the legend of La Llorona. “La Llorona” literally means “the weeping woman,” therefore it’s no surprise that the fundamental feature shared by all “La Llorona” legends is that she weeps. Other from that one distinguishing feature, the ghost known as “La Llorona” differs greatly: numerous stories are recounted about what she looks like and what she does, and many more about how she got to be such a gloomy spirit.

A wide range of La Llorona tales may be found in news reports and on the internet. Several are also included in Edward Garcia Kraul and Judith Beatty’s book The Weeping Woman: Encounters with La Llorona. There are several versions to this stories: La Llorona will occasionally spot you from afar and chase you, terrorising you as you escape towards your house. She sometimes appears riding a horse. She may come in your horse-drawn waggon or in your automobile, warning you against bad behaviour before disappearing, similar to that other well-known ghost, the vanishing hitchhiker. In some cases, meeting her proves fatal.

La Llorona is frequently linked to children. In some myths, she is supposed to weep for her own lost or dead children; in many of these stories, she murdered her own children when she was alive and is fated to be a roaming ghost as a result of her deeds. In other legends, she appears mostly to mothers with children, while in others, she abducts youngsters who are never seen again.

La Llorona typically appears as a malevolent spirit, either a harbinger or a direct cause of misfortune to the living. Sometimes she takes the form of a “dangerous siren,” tempting a solitary male late at night by confronting him as a pitiful, woebegone figure hidden under a rebozo. When offered assistance, she turns on the solicitous gentleman the face of a skeleton or a wild metallic horse’s head or no face at all. Sometimes she is observed simply roaming about at a distance, or most typically, she is heard weeping and shrieking through the night. A chance meeting with her is dangerous.

La Llorona has long hair and walks around crying. I heard from the counsellors at Juvie that she had two kids that she drowned because they were bad. She drowned them in Tijuana. She attacks bad kids in Juvie. They say it is true.

It is a woman who wasn’t quite all there who killed her three girls, 13 to 17 years old. She didn’t want them because something had happened to her husband, and they reminded her of him, so she drowned them. Their bones are buried in her back. She doesn’t know they are dead. She wears a long black cape with a peaked hood and goes around institutions and foster homes looking for her kids. If she sees a girl who looks like one of her daughters, she tries to cut out that feature. She comes around three days after it rains.

Image of a crying woman and three babies carved into a tree, with the inscription "La Llorona."
Detail from “Carved tree in Arteaga, Coahuila, with La Llorona (Weeping Lady) image.” Photo by Gabriel Perez Salazar. Shared to Wikimedia Commons with a Creative Commons License.


As is generally known, Señor, many bad things are met with by night in the streets of the City; but this Wailing Woman, La Llorona, is the very worst of them all. She is worse by far than the vaca de lumbre–that at midnight comes forth from the potrero of San Pablo and goes galloping through the streets like a blazing whirlwind, breathing forth from her nostrils smoke and sparks and flames: because the Fiery Cow, Señor, while a dangerous animal to look at, really does no harm whatever–and La Llorona is as harmful as she can be!

Seeing her walking quietly along the quiet street–at the times when she is not running, and shrieking for her lost children–she seems a respectable person, only odd looking because of her white petticoat and the white reboso with which her head is covered, and anybody might speak to her. But whoever does speak to her, in that very same moment dies!

The beginning of her was so long ago that no one knows when was the beginning of her; nor does any one know anything about her at all. But it is known certainly that at the beginning of her, when she was a living woman, she committed bad sins. As soon as ever a child was born to her she would throw it into one of the canals which surround the City, and so would drown it; and she had a great many children, and this practice in regard to them she continued for a long time. At last her conscience began to prick her about what she did with her children; but whether it was that the priest spoke to her, or that some of the saints cautioned her in the matter, no one knows. But it is certain that because of her sinnings she began to go through the streets in the darkness weeping and wailing. And presently it was said that from night till morning there was a wailing woman in the streets; and to see her, being in terror of her, many people went forth at midnight; but none did see her, because she could be seen only when the street was deserted and she was alone.

Sometimes she would come to a sleeping watchman, and would waken him by asking: “What time is it?” And he would see a woman clad in white standing beside him with her reboso drawn over her face. And he would answer: “It is twelve hours of the night.” And she would say: “At twelve hours of this day I must be in Guadalajara!”–or it might be in San Luis Potosí, or in some other far-distant city–and, so speaking, she would shriek bitterly: “Where shall I find my children?”–and would vanish instantly and utterly away. And the watchman would feel as though all his senses had gone from him, and would become as a dead man. This happened many times to many watchmen, who made report of it to their officers; but their officers would not believe what they told. But it happened, on a night, that an officer of the watch was passing by the lonely street beside the church of Santa Anita. And there he met with a woman wearing a white reboso and a white petticoat; and to her he began to make love. He urged her, saying: “Throw off your reboso that I may see your pretty face!” And suddenly she uncovered her face–and what he beheld was a bare grinning skull set fast to the bare bones of a skeleton! And while he looked at her, being in horror, there came from her fleshless jaws an icy breath; and the iciness of it froze the very heart’s blood in him, and he fell to the earth heavily in a deathly swoon. When his senses came back to him he was greatly troubled. In fear he returned to the Diputacion, and there told what had befallen him. And in a little while his life forsook him and he died.

What is most wonderful about this Wailing Woman, Señor, is that she is seen in the same moment by different people in places widely apart: one seeing her hurrying across the atrium of the Cathedral; another beside the Arcos de San Cosme; and yet another near the Salto del Agua, over by the prison of Belen. More than that, in one single night she will be seen in Monterey and in Oaxaca and in Acapulco–the whole width and length of the land apart–and whoever speaks with her in those far cities, as here in Mexico, immediately dies in fright. Also, she is seen at times in the country. Once some travellers coming along a lonely road met with her, and asked: “Where go you on this lonely road?” And for answer she cried: “Where shall I find my children?” and, shrieking, disappeared. And one of the travellers went mad. Being come here to the City they told what they had seen; and were told that this same Wailing Woman had maddened or killed many people here also.

Because the Wailing Woman is so generally known, Señor, and so greatly feared, few people now stop her when they meet with her to speak with her–therefore few now die of her, and that is fortunate. But her loud keen wailings, and the sound of her running feet, are heard often; and especially in nights of storm. I myself, Señor, have heard the running of her feet and her wailings; but I never have seen her. God forbid that I ever shall!


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