Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Famous Ghosts of New Mexico: La Llorona

La Llorona (pronounced “LAH  yoh ROH  nah”) means Weeping Women in Spanish. This story is well known in the state were I live. 

Several versions of this story are retold; the most common version tells of a peasant woman who is jilted by her lover, in an act of revenge she kills their children. 

She throws them into the river, immediately regrets her decision, at which point she goes downstream to save them but they drown. She then is doomed to mourn them forever.

Throughout New Mexico her ghost is heard weeping or wailing for her children—of course this phenomena is most often heard near water.

How La Llorona is described depends upon what part of New Mexico you find yourself in. For instance, she is a woman all in white or a woman all in black. She is often described as beautiful, tall with long flowing black hair. But she always weeps. 

Within the Hispanic culture this story has been passed down from generation to generation since the Spanish Conquistadors were in the area.

This story is used sometimes as a vehicle to warn children away from dangers. Just like the quintessential Bogie Man she is used to remind children they best behave. I experienced this firsthand as a new teacher.

My young students related to me one morning what they knew about La Llorona. Naively, I mentioned that I did not believe in her. At which juncture my students stood and surrounded me, they became quite insistent that I must believe. They wanted to make sure I knew this and protected myself from her wrath. 

I remember this incident fondly—they cared about me and they wanted to make sure I was safe.

So the story of La Llorona is sometimes viewed like a traditional fable. 

No comments: