Creature Compendium

Creature Compendium: La Llorona

This week’s creature was a suggestion from Danielle La Paglia. I’d never heard of La Llorona before now, but I lived in fear of the Lady in White, which may or may not be the same legend. La Llorona is yet another reason to stay inside at night.

the weeping woman
La Llorona by galletasdanesas

La Llorona
(The Weeping Woman)

Song:
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.
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.

La Llorona is the apparition of a weeping woman, who appears near water, crying “Mis niños, donde están mis niños?” (my children where are my children?). It is said that she may snatch children who go out after dark thinking that they are her own, or may cause harm to adults in a fit of rage, mistaking them for her unfaithful husband. Those who hear La Llorona’s cries are also sometimes said to be marked for death. There is no consensus on the origin of La Llorona, but most stories are variations on the same theme.

In one story, Maria is beautiful but proud woman, who marries a handsome ranchero husband, but soon after they are married, he stops paying attention to her and dotes only on their children. In a fit of rage she throws her children into the river to get his attention, then realizes what she has done, and dives in after them, and drowns. She cannot enter heaven until she finds her children, so she searches endlessly for them.

Another story traces the origins of La Llorona to the beautiful Aztec Goddess Cihuacoatl during the time of the conquistadors. Her husband is unfaithful, and leaves her alone with their two children. One day she sees her husband across the river with another lover. She takes one child in each arm, and tries to get his attention. She weeps, “Take your children then!” but the boys slip out of her grasp and fall into the river. Anguished she dives in after them, and still searches the riverbanks for her children.

Further Reading:

Region of Origin: North America, Mexico

Related Creatures: banshee, bogyman, woman in white, bloody bones, krampus

8 Comments

    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      A pretty standard ghost story, I think. I find most interesting how far back the roots of the story go, and how the same story gets a more modern makeover. That’s a long time…

  1. I think versions of this were told near the pond I camped at as a kid in New York. Seems like a popular archetype for a folktale – the localized danger, particularly towards kids. If she weren’t lethal, she’d just be a sad critter.

  2. I’m so glad you found a new “creature”! In Mexico they also tell children not to cry at night/bedtime because La Llorona will hear them and take them for her own. You scare them into silence. That’s some great parenting right there! LOL

  3. Never heard of this weeping woman…but there are very similar legends all over.

    We have a whole city here in St. Louis called Creve Coeur, or “broken heart.” It’s from a legend of an Indian woman who dies from a broken heart.

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