Decent people have gathered before the midnight curfew everywhere, from the market to the monastery, from the acequia real to the Iztapalapa highway. The streets are empty of living souls…
The eternal wailing of La Llorona
At noon sharp, a woman dressed in white enters from the west, her face hidden by a thin veil. Without following a fixed route, she moves from one street to another, always in the direction of the Plaza Mayor. There she licks the earth while on her knees.
Some claim she floats, while others insist she has no face. But few have seen her. Most have heard her pathetic wail:
“Ay, my children.”
And they are already fed up with her. It seems that La Llorona has traveled thousands of miles, from one end of the American continent to the other, carrying her sorrow. According to a U.S. website dedicated exclusively to this well-known spirit, there are some 20,000,000 people who consider her real.
Lloronas are found from Mexico to Argentina
They look like beggars in some locations and angels in others. Their status as wandering ghosts lamenting the tragic deaths of their children is what distinguishes them.
After the Virgin of Guadalupe and “La Malinche”, the young Aztec girl who became Hernan Cortez’s lover, they occupy third place in Mexico’s popular imagination due to their long history and significance.
On Mexican soil, La Llorona has been the subject of songs, at least four feature films, countless books, essays and anthropological studies.
Goddess, mestizo and Indian
There are several stories surrounding the mythology of La Llorona in Mexico itself. According to one interpretation, she is the Aztec goddess Chihuacóatl, protector of the race.
Before the Spanish invasion, it is said that a woman dressed in white began to emerge frequently over the waters of Lake Texcoco and prowl the hills, frightening the inhabitants of the great Tenochtitlan. She wailed:
“Alas, my children, where shall I take them to escape such a miserable fate?”.
The priests decided to consult the ancient oracles.
The goddess Chihuacóalt would appear to announce the demise of Aztec rule at the hands of men from the East, the ancients said. The apparition was the sixth sign that civilization was about to collapse. In another of the best-known stories, La Llorona is referred to as the “Mexican Medea”.
It tells that, around the year 1500, a charming mestiza from the New World, a daughter of Spanish and Indian, fell in love with a handsome Spanish captain and had two children as a result. The mestiza awakened a passion in the captain that eventually seemed to be extinguished.
The young woman eventually became angry at being abandoned and made the decision to confront her lover. However, it was too late.
In the interim, the captain married a wealthy young Spanish woman. The young mother attacked her two young children in a fit of rage. She killed them with a knife that the captain himself had given her.
She ran down the street sobbing and screaming in pain with blood on her hands before she was arrested by law enforcement. The young woman was sentenced to death by “garrote vil”, a method of execution in which the victim’s neck is tied with a “tourniquet”.
Finally, the Llorona is said to be “La Malinche” herself, who is said to wander in penance for having betrayed her blood.
La Llorona is linked to streams in other Latin American nations, as well as in some areas of Mexico. La Llorona is covered in tears and is disheveled in some areas of Colombia. She is the ghost of a single mother who, to hide her humiliation, threw her son into the river.
Her disconsolate lament is: “Here I threw him, here I threw him… where will I find him?”.
Some claim that the young woman self-aborted, while others assert that the children of the despicable woman died of suffering.
La Llorona in Venezuela
La Llorona is a Venezuelan woman who discovered through rumors that her husband was having an affair with her mother. This Llorona murdered her mother and burned down her house. She forgot that her children were also there. By the time she realized it was too late.
Before she died her mother cursed her to wander forever and ever, “following men on the paths of the plain, without God and Saint Mary”.
La Llorona in Argentina
La Llorona has no face in Argentina. She appears in people’s homes, bringing death to the sick and sickness to the healthy. Whoever meets La Llorona will have bad luck because she carries the pain of her endless wailing everywhere.
With information from BBC Mundo