La Llorona is a famous Mexican folk tale. It align itself with other similar legend of the scorned woman, the woman in white and the weeping woman.
This Mexican legend is one of the more well known, international as well now, as the movie came out a while back. But she has been around for centuries, a legend so well known it is now more or less an important part of the Mexican heritage and culture as well as in the Chicano Mexican community of the US.
She is perhaps a bit older than most think as well. The origin of the legend can have roots as far back in the Aztec legends and being one of ten omens foretelling the Conquest of Mexico and has also been linked to Aztec goddesses like Cihuacōātl.
It has also the ring of ‘White Woman’ often found in European legends as well as Greek mythology stories like with Jason and Medea, a scorned woman, killing her children when her man betrays her.
The story takes many turns, she appears in crossroads, by lakes or rivers, on the road and has many variations. And as the history of Mexico, with its changes and social unrest, the story has followed closely behind, reshaped to fit the narrative. Therefore, we will relate one of these variations and one of the common one told in the modern era.
It is set in a small village in Mexico, were a young woman lived. Her name was Maria and came from a poor family. She was known in the village for her beauty, but will be remembered as La Llorona, the weeping woman. A tragic club to be in.
One day, a very wealthy man came passing through town. He stopped when he saw Maria. She was charmed by him and when he proposed, she accepted at once. Maria’s family was overjoyed that their daughter would marry into a rich family. But the father of this wealthy man, was deeply disappointed at his sons choice of bride.
Maria and her husband built a house in her town to get away from his judgmental father. Time went by and Maria gave birth to two twin boys.
But not everything was rosy colored. Her husband was always travelling and almost never spent any time with the family. When he was home, he only spent time with the boys, and Maria knew he no longer loved her.
The Haunted Rivers
One day he went away and never returned. Many years went by. One day Maria and her boys was out walking along a river. A carriage was pulled just by and she saw her once husband sitting in it. By his side a much younger and beautiful woman sat.
Maria was furious and desperate. Without thinking she picked up her two boys and threw them in the river, drowning them. Only after she saw the floating bodies of her sons she realized what she had done. She jumped out after them to die with them. Now she spends rest of eternity on the hunt after her children along that river.
It is said that is you hear her crying, you must run the opposite way. She calls after her children “ay, mis hijos”. It can bring bad luck, even death. If you are pregnant, you must be extra careful. Because La Llorona is attracted to children. Therefore children should not walk alone along rivers. It is said that in some versions of the story, she kidnaps kids, reminding her of her own and asks for their forgiveness. Then she murders them to take the place of her own.
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