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Ghost Files

Grey Matter


La Llorona

The tales of La Llorona are very popular folktales here in NM and I would imagine everywhere in the US where there is a large Mexican population. It really never occurred to me until Ian Punnett had a caller talk about her and Ian had no idea who she was that there are probably quite a few who donít know these stories, so I will pass some on as I know them. I might mention that Ianís caller was telling some tale about how she turns into a wolf or something that he was trying to connect to the man-dog. I have never heard a La Llorona story where she turns into any type of animal.

I have heard the La Llorona tale told many different ways since I was child. These are a couple of my favorites - First is the Cindy Smith type tale. La Llorona is a beautiful widow, she has two children, a boy and a girl. She has been romanced by a certain gentleman who she is madly in love with. This man will not agree to marry her because he says he does not want the responsibility of her children. So desperate to marry this man she takes her children to the river (the Rio Grande) and she drowns them. She then goes to her lover and tells him the good news that her children are gone and he can now marry her. He pretty much laughs in her face and explains that he just was using that as an excuse, but he has no intention of marrying her and does not love her. Overcome with grief she goes down to the river and drowns herself. Upon death she is cursed to walk the earth until she can find her lost children. She often grabs children walking along the river thinking they are hers.

In the second story once again the beautiful widow La Llorona is being romanced by a man that she is totally in love with. One day they all go for a picnic near the Rio Grande. So in love is La Llorona that she is concentrating all her attention on the man. They are kissing and chatting and totally involved in one another for hours. During this time she totally forgets about her two children and they wander off to play at the edge of the river, where they fall in and drown. When she realizes they are gone she goes to the river and finds their dead bodies floating there. Overcome with grief she jumps in and drowns herself. For her neglect of her children she is cursed to walk the earth for eternity scaring children away from the water.

In all the La Llorona tales that I know there is always a man who she has fallen madly in love with, if I understand correctly the man is the devil is disguise. He purposely has La Llorona fall madly in love with him so that he can trick her into forfeiting her soul. It is a big joke he is playing on her because that is what the devil likes to do. This seems to be a reoccurring theme in Mexican folktales, where the devil is always trying to woo young women and capture their souls. Even the most pure of maidens can sometimes be tricked by him. I guess old Satan has quite an eye for the ladies.

Here in New Mexico it is said that she walks the river and arroyos and sometimes you can hear her wailing and crying. Even worse you may see her and she may touch you. As if her hideous appearance is not enough, if she is actually to touch you, the touch may stop your heart and at the very least will leave a huge red mark that will never ever fade.

I was both terrified and fascinated with her as a child. There was a story that if you were in the dark and said her name 50 times she would appear. I donít know how many times me and my friends tried this in my closet, but it never worked. I still havenít seen her, but I do keep a watchful eye whenever I am near the river.

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