Was “La Llorona” real?

When I was around eight years old my older cousins were telling scary stories. There was one that really stuck with me. I vividly remember them talking about a woman who wore a white dress, was always crying, and haunted the riversides. The reason she cries is because of her children who she drowned. Every person has their own view of who she is, what she does, and why she does it, but they all had one important detail in common —she took the souls of children. Hearing this as a very young kid freaked me out. I couldn’t go to sleep for a while or be by myself because I was afraid she would come for me. Now that I’m older, I always wondered where this legend came from.

La Llorona was first spotted in the capital of the Aztec empire, which is Tenochtitlan, back in 1509. This was most likely the first citing of her. She is largely based on different Aztec gods. One of the main ones is Cihuacoatl. According to Zoe Saadia, who has written many novels in the pre-Columbian America,  “Cihuacoatl was the goddess of childbirth. Her head covered with long hair, she was dressed in a white robe, shirt and coat. Half woman and half snake, she represented the female part of the universal duality: Quetzalcoatl / Cihuacoatl”. Although it is interesting that La Llorona could have originally been a god, her description is very basic and can fit that of a woman from that time period. Children’s deaths were also very common in those times due to a lack of medicine and technology for diseases, so it can explain why she mourned over their children.

It is interesting to see how different parts of Mexico and the United States, are raised with different stories. For example, in Texas, she is very well known as the weeping woman. What makes this version unique is that she drowned her newborn because either the husband didn’t want it or because he left with another woman. She also tends to haunt riversides and is most commonly known in the southern parts of Texas which makes sense because the south side is more commonly influenced by Mexican culture. Another example would be La Malinche (The Traitor) who according, to The Chicano Gothic, “was an Aztec woman who was seen as useful to Cortes because she could translate, she had two children with him and later he decided he wanted to take them. She feared she would lose them to Spain or the voyage, so she drowned him to keep his spirit in the homeland.

In conclusion, I believe that La Llorona was real at some point. Given the information, we see that this legend could have most likely been real. The way she is originally described was a common sense of fashion in those times. Stories over time shift and change and this legend had well over 500 years to do that. People can believe what they want but I do believe.

Agustin Duarte – Northside College Preparatory High School – DMSF Class of 2026

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