Monday, October 20, 2008

L is for La Llorona

La llorona is a very creepy legend of Latin American countries, and parts of the United States as well. La Llorona is the name for the Weeping Woman in Mexico and parts of the United States. Imagine that you have born children by your dearest love, whether he is your husband or not. He cruelly tells you he is leaving you because he does not want to be a father, or doesn't want you anymore. He may be abandoning you for another woman or to marry a more socially acceptable woman. Or perhaps a new lover won't take you if you have children. What does a mother do? Well don't do what La llorona did. She drowned her children and will pay the price for eternity.

La llorona is a spirit that haunts the riverbeds, doomed to look for her drowned children for eternity. In many of the myths, the woman drowns her children and herself. When she gets to Heaven, the Lord asks where her children are. She doesn't know, so He tells her to walk the earth in search of them.

In some myths she has the head of a horse, and may wear black or white-bloodstained rags. She might steal children. In the Guatemalan myth, she has a loud weeping cry that will send chills down your spine. She tends to be present at wells and in wandering in the mountains. In the Honduran myth, she is known as La Sucia, or the Dirty Woman. She might take the form of a wife or lover, and if you realize it's her, she will scratch out your eyes with her long nails. In an alternate version of the Honduran legend, La Sucia is an abandoned married woman who seduces men by the river. She looks beautiful and young initially, but changes into the form of an old woman. The sight of which, drives the men insane. She has a popular cry that is translated as "Drink of my breast, for I am your mother." En El Salvador, she is said to cry "Where is my children?"

In Panama she is called "La Tulivieja." She was a young woman married to an important businessman who left her baby in what she thought was a safe place under a tree, only to find him gone when she returned for him. For her negligence, she was cursed by God with a hideous face with holes, long hair all over her body, and chicken feet. In Chile she wears white and is seen by people who are about to die, people with special abilities like medicine men, or by animals with heightened senses. She is the guide of the dead and also cries for the dead so that they won't haunt their living relatives. She is said to hypnotize men into spending the night with her to comfort her for her lost child. If you rub your eyes with tears from a dog, you can see her, but you must be brave, or the vision will be a horrible one.

Essentially, La Llorona is used as a cautionary tale to keep wayward children in line, or to prevent a young girl from being easily enticed by empty promises of men. Some believe that to hear the cry of the Weeping Woman is to be doomed for death.

The legend of La Llorona can be traced by to Medea, the Greek legend of a sorceress who killed her children she had with the adventurer Jason, when he abandoned her. The Aztec goddess Coatlique appeared before the arrival of the invading Spanish conquistadors under Hernan Cortes. She was said to be weeping for her lost children. This was an omen of the fall of the Aztec empire. The legend of the Weeping Woman is also said to be related to the story of La Malinche, an Indian woman who acted as a mistress for the conquistador Cortes, and who subsequently sought vengeance when abandoned her and their child for a Spanish lady.

Although the legend is slightly different depending on what country you are in, each telling is chilling. The idea of a woman who kills her children, dies, and is cursed to wanders the riverside on dark, lonely nights; weeping, and possibly looking for victims, certainly makes a person want to stay inside and far away from any bodies of water.

References

La Llorona-Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_llorona. Last modified 20 October 2008. Accessed 20 October 2008.

1 comment:

Cormac said...

Hey Danielle. I was reading your blogs... very interesting stuff. lately, and strangely, i have been craving to read more about about, in particular, irish folklore. i live in northern ireland and, stangely playing a game called "folklore" has sparked my younger curiosity of researching this a bit further. the craving i've had to research this further has nearly taken over my life. its hard to explain, but kinda like an awakening or something, of a topic i love and want to immerse myself completely in. i would very much like to get in contact with yourself and discuss a bit further. i hope you get this. please email me on cormacmccarthy@hotmail.co.uk. thanks for your time, and also your blogs. i enjoyed reading them.
Cormac