La Llorona (or approximately "lah yoh-ROH-nah", Spanish for "the crying woman"), sometimes called the Woman in White or the Weeping Woman is a figure in Mexican folklore, the ghost of a woman crying for her dead children that she drowned. Her appearances are sometimes held to presage death, and frequently are claimed to occur near bodies of water, particularly streams and rivers. There is much variation in tales of La Llorona, which are popular in Mexico and the United States (especially in Mexican-American communities), and to an extent, the rest of the Americas.
This is another version of the story:
Maria married a very rich man, which was not a proper thing to do in that time and in her country. After he had the 2 boys and the girl with Maria, he left her and ended up marrying another woman. In her depression, Maria drowned her kids and then herself. When she reached the gates of heaven, the Lord asked her "Where are your children?" Maria answered "I don't know, my Lord." The Lord then said "You shall not enter these gates without your children." From that point on, Maria began to roam the earth in search for her children in the rivers and streams of the Americas.
Another popular version of the legend takes place sometime in 19th century. A beautiful young woman with two small children was living in the poorest section of Kansas City, the town across the border from Kansas. She was madly in love with a very rich man. He felt the same way about her, but he, having no interest in children, refused to marry her. So, late one night, the woman took her children to a bridge over the Missouri/Kansas river. In the dead of the night, she heartlessly stabbed her children and threw them in the river to drown. Still wearing her bloody nightgown, she went to her lover's home to show him the great lengths she had gone to be with him. The man, seeing her blood-streaked nightgown, was horrified and rejected her. Then, finally realizing the horrible mistake she had made, she ran back to the river screaming, crying, and tearing at her hair, desperately trying to save her children. But it was too late. The woman stabbed and drowned herself in the same river. The legend has it that as punishment for her unspeakable sins she was given the head of a horse, and was to wander the banks of the river for all of eternity looking for her lost children.
In yet another version of the story, La Llorona had several children from her first marriage. Her husband died and she was left lonely. Soon she met a suitor who swept her off her feet. He promised her a wonderful life together, but only if she agreed to get rid of her children. After much soul-searching, the woman decided to follow the man in a new life together and drowns her children in the Missouri River. After a few months, the suitor grows tired of La Llorona and leaves her for another woman. Realizing that her selfish actions brought about the end of those who truly loved her, she dies in grief with her soul eternally looking for her long-lost children.
In another variant, La Llorona is a naive but innocent woman forced into a shotgun wedding with the father of her child; in this case, it is La Llorona's father or her husband who kills the children. La Llorona attempts to stop the murders, and dies in the attempt.
In another variation from New Mexico, the La Llorona is a middle-class woman. After having several children, she is widowed. She slowly loses her mind and one night takes a walk but leaves the stove on. The house catches on fire and all her children die. She tries to save them but can't and is severely burned. Consumed by grief, she wanders New Mexico dressed in black rags, taking children who disobey their parents or stay out too late to be her own.
Some stories say that la Llorona was a criolla (one of unmixed Spanish descent) that was the wife of a wealthy Spaniard. In one of his trips, she falls in love with a poor mix-raced man and she becomes pregnant. She drowned her baby to hide the affair, and was damned for it.
Among the other attributes in these traditions are that she only materializes near a source of water, which may be any such as a pond, lake, or even pila (laundry tank). It is mostly men who witness or encounter her ghostly figure; some have said that a man who encounters her goes insane or develops a critical mental trauma. Entire towns have supposedly heard her horrendous cry.
"La Llorona appears mostly in the mountains or in una poza (a place where people go wash their clothes)(or a well). They say that you hear her cry at night. One day my friend told me that she was sitting with her family in the kitchen eating supper and all of a sudden she heard a lady cry. Her family thought it was the neighbor Juan that had beaten his wife again and she was crying. But all of a sudden they heard it closer and it didn't sound like Juan's wife. The weeping was so horrible they covered their ears they started to pray, and moments, later it stopped. Then they figured out that it was La Llorona," says Marcella Rodriguez.
Another legend is that she will take the form of your wife, girlfriend, daughter or friend. You may only tell its her because of her long nails. If you find out she isn't your wife and scream she may scratch your eyes out.
One of her popular cries is: "Toma mi teta, que soy tu nana" (Drink of my breast, for I am your mother).
In Honduras, she is known as La Sucia (The dirty woman) or Ciguanabana. This name is made up of Xihuatl (woman) and Nahuatl (Spirit): Spirit of a woman.
The different legends about La Llorona vary from being very similar to the Mexican versions to being very particular to Chilean folklore. The Chilean versions define the ghost as the spirit of a woman looking for her son, characterised as being a spirit with a special relation with the dead. In the most Chilean version, La Llorona is called La Pucullén and is said to cry constantly for the son who died in her arms at an early age. She dresses in white and can only be seen by people about to die, those with special abilities (like the Machis or the kalkus), and animals with sharp senses, such as dogs, who howl pitifully in her presence.
She is the guide of the dead, who she guides with her footprints and cries along the path that takes the dead from their earthly dwelling to the Beyond. It is said that she cries like a hired mourner for the relatives of the deceased so that they can promptly recover from the loss. By this she prevents the spirit of the dead from appearing to torment them for their lack of tears and for not showing enough sorrow.
With her abundant tears, which form a crystal-clear pool, she indicates the spot in a cemetery where the grave should be dug and the coffin deposited. It is said that if they have put the grave in the right place, they need to completely fill the grave with soil or one of the relatives of the deceased will die.
Other versions say that La Llorona makes the hearts of those who listen to her laments shudder and that she hypnotizes men who wander around before dawn and spends the night with them to comfort her of the loss of her child.
In some tales, if you rub your eyes with the tears of a dog, you can see her, though you must have a firm heart or the image will be a horrific one............
La Llorona is also sometimes identified with La Malinche, the Native American woman who served as Cortés' interpreter and who some say betrayed Mexico to the Spanish conquistadors. In one folk story of La Malinche, she becomes Cortés' mistress and bears him a child, only to be abandoned so that he could marry a Spanish lady (though no evidence exists that La Malinche killed her children). Aztec pride drove La Malinche to acts of vengeance. In this context, the tale compares the Spanish invasion of Mexico and the demise of indigenous culture after the conquest with La Llorona's loss.
Folklore from wider Europe has also added to the legend. Tales of banshees and other female spirits whose wails presage death have influenced the story, and La Llorona's association with pools and rivers links her with water-nymphs like the Nix, Lorelei, the Sirens and Melusine. European ghost lore is full of hauntings by women clad in white; they may be restless spirits seeking help for some wrong they have suffered or who are damned to a twilight existence reliving the tragedy of their lives. The European lore may have originated from ancient Teutonic myths of white-clad female elves and wise women ancestors (weisse frauen in Germany, witte wieven in Holland, dames blanches in France). There are also similarities with the Biblical Massacre of the Innocents, which the Gospel of Matthew likens to "Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted."
La Llorona, or the woman in white, has recently been portrayed in THE CRY (2008) and Supernatural (TV, 2006)