Know Your Ghosts: La Llorona

Welcome to the second edition of Know Your Ghosts.  Our next unusual ghost is La Llorona, another female ghost (oddly enough, most of the non-standard ghosts are), this time hailing from Mexico.  La Llorona, or “The Weeping Woman,” is the spirit of a scorned woman, denied her final rest because of her sins.

Specifically, the La Llorona myth involves a woman named Maria, a widow (in some tales) with two small children who loved a man so much she drowned her children to be with him.  In some versions of the story the children are actually the man’s offspring, but regardless of their parentage, after murdering her children, Maria went to her beloved only to be rejected.  Realizing what she had done, Maria committed suicide, but was not allowed into heaven.  She is cursed to walk the earth eternally.

The La Llorona is generally a harmless ghosts, wailing as she wanders about.  However, some tales involve the La Llorona snatching up children in the night to replace her own.  There is also some belief that those who hear her cries of “Aaaay, mis hijos!” (Oh, my children!) will be marked for death, similar to the Gaelic banshee’s wail.

There’s a really low budget horror film, The Wailer, with La Llorona as the monster.  I’d suggest avoiding it.  There’s apparently even a sequel which is somehow worse than the original.

Here is a traditional Mexican folktale about La Llorona, sung to children as a cautionary tale:

Don’t go down to the river, child,
Don’t go there alone;
For the sobbing woman, wet and wild,
Might claim you for her own.

She weeps when the sun is murky red;
She wails when the moon is old;
She cries for her babies, still and dead,
Who drowned in the water cold.

Abandoned by a faithless love,
Filled with fear and hate.
She flung them from a cliff above
And left them to their fate.

Day and night, she heard their screams,
Borne on the current’s crest;
Their tortured faces filled her dreams,
And gave her heart no rest.

Crazed by guilt and dazed by pain,
Weary from loss of sleep,
She leaped in the river, lashed by rain,
And drowned in the waters deep.

She seeks her children day and night,
Wandering, lost, and cold;
She weeps and moans in dark and light,
A tortured, restless soul.

Don’t go down to the river, child,
Don’t go there alone;
For the sobbing woman, wet and wild,
Might claim you for her own.



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