La Llorona: Myth or Fact?

Whether it was in a horror movie or you grew up knowing the legend, La Llorona, or weeping woman, has crossed your brain once or twice. But who is she? 

GIPHY Courtesy of Anna Lucia Gadelha

The old tale told to me goes like this: In a village, a woman named Maria was known for her vanity and married a rich wealthy man for it. After having two children with him, she catches him in an affair with another woman near a river. 

Out of anger and jealousy, she throws and drowns her children in the river. She realizes her sinful actions and searches for the drowned bodies of her children. In despair, she ends up drowning as well, either from searching or from her inability to swim through the deep river tides. 

GIPHY Courtesy of Cineworld Cinemas

The villagers find her body, but not the children, and bury her in a white gown and white lace tunic. Later that day towards nightfall, villagers reported the sound of loud sobbing and crying coming from the river Maria drowned her kids in. 

The cries were saying, “Where are my children?” From afar, villagers reported seeing a thin and frail woman sobbing these things, believing it was Maria come back to life. 

Several have paid witness to this unsettling ghost. 

This interaction in Mexican folklore can correlate with stories of indigenous historical figures.

La Malinche, also known as Dona Marina, was an important character during the Spanish conquest by Hernan Cortes against the Aztec Empire. She played an essential role during Cortes’ reign. As an interpreter for his people and hers, it contributed to his success. Yet, still enslaved, she gave birth to two of Cortes’ children. In anger for her people’s injustice by the Spanish conquistador, she drowned their children.

GIPHY Courtesy of GIPHY Studios

So really, why wouldn’t people fear her when she had so much connection to Cortes? The persuasive case for why the Aztecs feared the women close to Cortes ad the possible ‘Llorona’ could provide evidence of why the tale was carried down to present Mexico. But this story also aligns with other cultures.

According to SF Gate, Greek mythology also has a similar story. The god Zeus had an affair with apparently beautiful Lamia. Though he has had many relationships, this time, it causes the death of his children. 

“Upon discovering Zeus’ affair with Lamia, Hera forces the demonic demigoddess to eat her children. Lamia then wanders the earth and devours every child she can catch,” said SF Gate. 

GIPHY Courtesy Greg Gunn

So, is La Llorona real? When there have been enough examples to say so in folklore, as well as examples in real life? In 1991, a journalist set out to find out just that. Ed Walraven found evidence of witnesses to La Llorona, connecting it to the dead baby trails in dumpsters around the Midwest, U.S. 

“On April 18, 1986, an apparently distraught Hispanic Woman in Houston threw several of her children into Buffalo Bayou, to the shock of passers-by. One child died,” said Walraven. 

Due to the large Hispanic population found within the midwest, there have been incidents where suspicious sightings of a weeping woman have occurred, yet not always near water. 

“Stories of La Llorona sightings have also occurred in non-traditional settings, from Chicago and Mexico City to railroad tracks and forests, to juvenile hall,” said Walraven.  

Now that there have been historical and present ties to this myth, can you decide if it’s real or not?