I am a lover of horror movies. Especially creepy ones that deal with spirits, folklore, or urban legends. So when I found out that they are making a movie of La Llorona to be released a few days before my birthday in April, I was over the moon. You can check out the trailer here.
I’ve known about La Llorona for a while thanks to my friend, Amanda. (Her nickname is Pocahontas. Long story that involves a bonfire, a tree, and a lot of beer.) Through talking to her and her Facebook posts I have learned a lot about the folklore behind La Llorona. Amanda said that growing up her grandmother would tell her the story of La Llorona and she would stay up all night listening for La Llorona.
According to Amanda’s Grandma, this version takes place in what is now New Mexico but it was back when it was still considered Mexico. The La Llorona was actually named Maria. Maria was considered the most beautiful girl around with all that beauty she was also very vain and had a mean girl attitude. She didn’t believe anyone was good enough for her and often turned away suitors. Then one day, Don Carlos arrived in her town. Maria thought that Don Carlos was equal to her in terms of beauty and eagerly agreed to marry him. As time passed, Maria gave birth to two children; a little boy and a little girl. As the years passed, Don Carlos began to tire of Maria and soon started to travel again. When he would return home, he often brought home various mistresses. He spent his time only with the mistresses and his children. Don Carlos would ignore Maria. Maria would grow more and more jealous of the women and her children that were monopolizing Don Carlos’ time and attention. One day, after Don Carlos left their home again with another mistress, Maria lost it. In a fit of rage, she dragged her two children down to the Rio Grande River and threw them in. As the children floated away, they started screaming for their mother. Their screams broke Maria out of her haze, causing her to realize what she had done. She tried to chase her children down the river calling out “Aye, Mis hijos, ¿dónde están mis hijos?” (“My children, where are my children?”). While running after her children, Maria tripped and hit her head on a rock which killed her instantly. The church wouldn’t allow Maria to be buried in the local cemetery because of what she did to her children. So, instead of the cemetery, Maria was buried by the river. Some people claim that the Capital building actually marks the spot where she was buried. According to Amanda’s Grandma, Maria roams the rivers, streams, and arroyos looking for her children and calling out for them. Amanda’s Grandma warned Amanda to stay away from areas like that or else Maria could mistake her for one of her children.
The story that Amanda told me is similar to many of the versions I read while researching about La Llorona. It changes very little from region to region but it is always told to young children to help keep them from running away in the night. Some variations warn that if you hear La Llorona crying, she has marked you for death. If she finds a child, she will beg them for forgiveness before killing the child to replace the children she has lost. Her spirit has been seen as far south as Guatemala and as far north as the Yellowstone River in Montana. There are even reports of La Llorona in Gary, Indiana.
While researching this subject I was surprised to find a court case where a mother pled no contest to killing two of her children and attempting to kill the other five of her children because she was La Llorona and that she was trying to save her children from a life of abuse from their father. The mother, Juana Leija, drove her seven children down to the banks of the Buffalo Bayou. She claims she was in a haze of despair when she threw six of her seven children into the bayou. One child, Eloisa (9 years old) was able to escape to go get help. Two children, Juana and Judas (ages 3 and 6 years old) were killed. Esperanza, Rosa, Esther, and Elvira were safely rescued from the river. Juana had intentions of throwing herself in after she threw the children into the river but was stopped by Chris Sweet, who had heard the children screaming. The police arrived about thirty minutes after the first two children were thrown into the river.
Another odd thing I found out about while researching this folklore was that in New Mexico, there is a park near the Rio Grande River called La Llorona Park. I’m sure it’s a beautiful place and you call me crazy but this would be the last place I would bring my children.