Paranormal Casefile: La Llorona
When Emily Ortiz was 8 years old, she found her interest in the paranormal and all things associated with it. One day, Emily was reading about about a paranormal entity, well known in Mexico and the American Southwest known as La Llorona, which is Spanish for “The Weeping Woman.” Suddenly Emily heard a strange sound which seemed to be emanating from the bathroom in her home. She walked to the bathroom and stopped at the sink, trying to pinpoint where this strange sound was coming from. Suddenly her head was forcefully pushed into the sink and the water was turned on by some unknown assailant. As the water rose, Emily began to panic, choking for air. Thinking this was it for the young life, she kicked and screamed. Her mother, elsewhere in the home heard the struggle and ran to her aid. Her mother pulled her head out and hugged her daughter. Her mother knew, Emily wouldn’t try to do anything like this to herself and after thinking about the situation she froze and her face turned white. Her mother then screamed and almost fainted. Emily asked her mother what was wrong and her mother could only stutter out what she knew had attacked her daughter, “La-La… La Llorona.”
The legend of La Llorona is one that goes back centuries - at least to the days of the Spanish conquistadors, though nobody knows exactly how old it is or who originated the story. As with many legends, there are several versions. There is a common thread that ties the stories together though. In life, La Llorona found her beginnings as a beautiful peasant woman named Maria who married a wealthy man. Eventually after having two children, her husband loses his interest in her. In a fit of rage, Maria, threw her children into a nearby river. Realizing what she had done, searched the river, screaming, wailing in agony trying to find her children, but it was too late. Maria could be found in her white wedding dress screaming in the streets and was so stricken with grief that she starved herself to death. Now her restless spirit is doomed to stalk the lands of Mexico and the American Southwest for an eternity, ever searching for her children that she sentenced to a watery grave.
For centuries, many have encountered an apparition of a weeping woman in a white dress that has become known as La Llorona. Some say she can be seen walking local river banks at night. Some have even reported witnessed her levitating over waterways and through nearby forests. Legend has it, that if you’re one of the unlucky souls that happen to make her acquaintance at night, death will come for you. Some accounts specify that she targets children, but others say she will attack anyone; man, woman or child who dares to get too close to her. Children are also warned not to go out at dark because La Llorona may snatch them up and drag them into a nearby river.
There are some interesting origin stories for this legend and I wanted to cover a few. Most of them seem to be variations of La Llorona being the beautiful peasant woman, married to a man of higher class, who either leaves her, or she is a single mother who neglects her children while cavorting with men. In all cases her children are either drowned by her, or drown by accident.
Interestingly, some believe there might be a connection in historical documentation from the 16th Century. This story involves the story of a young Aztec girl known as La Malinche (also known as Malinalli, Marina, and Malintzin). She was known as an interpreter and guide for the invading Spanish conquistadors of the early 16th Century. It was said that in 1519, Malinche fell in love with the infamous Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés and their budding romance produced two sons. Some believe when Cortés decided to return to Spain, La Malinche was not allowed to return with him and their two sons. Out of spite, she dragged her sons to a nearby river and threw them into the river. Like the other versions of this story she went mad with grief and guilt, searching and hoping for her sons to return to her, only to eventually meet her own demise. Historians disagree that this is a potential origin story for La Llorona though as there is documentation confirming she only had one son with Cortés and it’s unlikely she drowned him as she was later married off to a Spanish Hidalgo and had a daughter with her new husband.
Furthermore, the legend of La Llorona has also been connected further back into Aztec legend and some believe that a very similar entity in Aztec culture was seen as an omen predicting the conquest of Mexico by a fearsome goddess. This goddess was known as Cihuacōātl or “Snake Woman.” Similar to La Llorona, this being was known as a savage beast and an evil omen. Additionally she wore white, wandered at night, and could be heard letting out unearthly cries. This is a pretty interesting connection if you ask me.
On a final note, it seems the legend of a vengeful mother figure that kills her own children can actually be traced back even further in time to ancient Greek Mythology. According to the myth, Medea killed her two sons after being betrayed by her husband, Jason. So it seems that the story about the ghost of a homicidal mother who comes back to haunt people finds its roots deep within our collective culture. Perhaps the pain is too great to let go of this realm and thus the spirits of mothers who angrily kill their own children are trapped here forever and transform into malevolent entities. One thing is for certain though; should you ever find yourself walking about at night and hear the ghostly and haunted howls of a woman nearby, it’s best to turn around and leave as fast as you can…