Once upon a time in Mexico, there lived the most beautiful woman in the world.
Her story, told since antiquity with myriad alterations, remains consistent at its core.
La Llorona. (Pronounced La Yoydona) The Crying Woman. The Wailing Woman. The Wailer. Whatever you call her, La Llorona’s story is a tale of a malevolent spirit that wanders the Earth, forever cursed.
It is said her screams have killed the weak-hearted.
Terror is her weapon.
Before she became La Llorona, Maria was her name, so the story goes.
She was a baroness and the most beautiful woman in the world who murdered her twin children out of spite for her husband, the baron.
Esteban was the only person Maria loved. But it was a twisted love born of possessiveness and burning jealousy.
He belonged to her; God help anyone who would come between them.
In the end, Maria died at the hands of her husband, in the same manner her twins perished.
Yes, this is the core of the story of La Llorona, a tale of murder most despicable.
It is a popular story — there are so many narratives — that claims the baroness drowned her twins, Amado and Amilia, in a fit of jealous rage.
In truth, it was her cold calculated vengeance that ignited events that night.
She held the toddlers under the water in the river, glaring into their sad eyes as they drowned.
She pushed their bodies into the current and watched them float, then quickly sink below the surface.
This barbaric act of revenge occurred in part because Maria was jealous of her children; Esteban loved them more than her.
But worst of all, she suspected her husband broke his wedding vow in which he promised to be true to her.
When home, which was not often, Esteban was distant, preoccupied, troubled even; it had to be another woman.
Maria would teach him a lesson.
Alas, the baron no longer loved this odious woman, but he could not extricate himself from their marriage; a Catholic wedding is a most sacred event not to be trifled with.
Esteban saw his wife’s pettiness and cruelty toward his staff, and he could not abide her behavior.
Her attitude toward the children was cold and threatening, and their father was alarmed.
But the baron was a cowardly man who avoided confrontation, and he feared his wife’s mercurial temper, and yes, he loved another.
Esteban would spirit the twins away tonight.
Let Maria live on the hacienda the rest of her life; Esteban had several estates; one mansion was of no consequence to him.
The baroness would retain her title and remain his wife in name only.
He planned to move Amado and Amilia to Spain; they would never see their mother again.
But he was too late to save his children.
It doesn’t matter whose La Lallona version is true; this is true: the story has been around since the days of the Aztecs, who ruled most of Mesoamerica from 1300 to 1521 AD.
The story likely predates the Aztec Empire.
Every generation has La Llorona stories.
How can such a tale survive the ages?
It is a mystery my friends. A supernatural mystery.
According to popular lore, Maria told her husband, with a smirk and in detail, what she had done to his precious offspring.
She wanted to see his face when she told him; she wanted him to hurt as he had hurt her.
The horror was real; Esteban knew his wife meant what she said.
Grief-stricken, he dragged his former love by the hair to the river and held her under the water.
As he looked down at her drowning face he felt hatred, pure insane hate.
This miserable creature murdered his children.
From under the water, staring up at the baron’s rage-filled face, Maria’s eyes shown shock that her destiny had brought her to this, her lover murdering her?
Shock gave way to sadness, and her eyes reflected the eyes of her dying twins as she left this world.
Esteban cursed her body as it floated with the current before sinking into the depths.
“May your rotten soul never find rest! Never! For eternity!
“Damn you to hell! Forever!”
Death does not become her
Maria knew she was dead, and she attempted to pass to the other side convinced she was on her way to heaven, for where else could they send the most beautiful woman on earth?
But she was no longer on Earth, and she was prevented from transitioning by a force that felt like warm peppermint taffy; there was no way to penetrate that gooey mess.
Her sentence was swift and harsh.
Pass to this side when you have found Amado and Amilia, Death commanded.
The most beautiful woman in the world was spiritually, an ugly deformity, and it was decreed by God that people should see her for what she was: La Llorona.
Those who see her recoil from the beast she is.
This tortured spirit, no longer Maria, is cursed to walk a world where she exists solely to find her children, a task that may take an eternity.
It is a most severe penalty she pays.
Thus she hands out retribution to anyone unlucky enough to encounter the demon, if I may call her that.
If you are out one night, near water, and you encounter La Llorona, you will die a horrid death.
This savage beast, in all her legendary rage, will bloody you with the viciousness of a trapped wolverine and the strength of a hungry jaguar.
Nails, teeth, fists, kicks, oblivion; these await you.
Yet, witnesses swear they have encountered, or know someone who has witnessed, this haunting ghost raging through the night near the waterways.
The witnesses are legion, those who claim connections to this legend.
Their narratives are bizarre, unbelievable, frightening.
This deformed soul is a vengeful force dressed in a dirty, tattered white dress, which some describe as a wedding gown.
She is a nocturnal hunter who haunts the waterways, the lakes, the rivers, the creeks, the streams, the canals, even the dry washes of the foothills, in search of Amado and Amilia.
Her screams in the distance strike terror even into the bravest of hearts.
The screams get louder as she approaches, until you are deafened by the shrill screeches.
Once La Llorona realizes you are not her child, she moves as a jaguar would, she leaps, bloodies you, always going for your neck to deliver the death bite.
All she leaves is death, a bloody slaughter, a clump of skin, blood, hair.
What happened to the victims’ bodies? Does she eat them? God only knows.
Her screams, some say, sound like “Where are my children?”
Others hear guttural, demonic screeches; some report shrill banshee shrieks.
Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands across the generations have La Llorona stories.
No One True Story
There is no known true story of La Llorona.
We are left with our versions taught since childhood.
Some will dispute this version I presented.
Some say the story is made up to scare children from wandering, especially in the dark near bodies of water.
That story has saved lives for sure.
This story of La Llorona is a special story known to millions.
It survived the ages.
Is she out there?
There are those who stake their lives she exists, because they have seen, or someone they trust has seen, this vengeful spirit near the waters.
How did these witnesses survive the encounters?
A supernatural mystery?
I don’t know, but I won’t call the witnesses liars.
I was raised to dismiss the story as fiction told around campfires.
But that doesn’t mean that someday when you camp near the water, La Llorona won’t come for you.
Beware this legendary killer; she may, or may not, be out there.
Listen for her scream, which echoes through the ages.
If you hear it, you may soon learn the truth of La Llorona.
© 2022 FabulousFables.com
Contact: David Madrid
Axtec photo: Each year in the Xochimilco borough of Mexico City, people celebrate La Llorona with performances. Photo above by Raúl Arturo Fernández Vega. Shared to Wikimedia Commons with a Creative Commons License.
The drawing of La Llorona was created by David Madrid, but not David Madrid now, but David Madrid at 11 years old. It is the 11 year old in me that draws the pictures.