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Mexico’s Most Famous Monster
The Weeping Woman

by Joseph Toone

Alongside Parque Juarez is a rather non-descript fountain that is known as one of the local residences of La Llorona (The Weeping Woman). The Weeping Woman is an often told tale of a gal named Maria that in effort to keep her lover’s attention drowns their two children. Realizing what she had done, she drowns herself. While her children reside in Heaven, Maria roams the waterways in search for her kids, or ones she can grab to replace them in her watery home.

In an effort to keep local kids out of the park at night, moms warn of the spooky Weeping Woman living in the fountain in constant search for children out after dark. Once adults, few former San Miguel children will knowingly pass by the fountain at night.

Variations of the legend of La Llorona abound as with most any ghost story. These vary from those living on from childhood sleep-overs to those of a more adult bent, particularly one of skinny dipping in La Presa interrupted by a woman’s wails, obviously breaking the mood. It is long a part of Mexican culture that the Weeping Woman continues to roam anywhere there is water, indiscriminately yanking folks to their watery grave.

Theories abound as to where the legend of La Llorna started. La Llorna came into her own via a 1940’s pop song, recently featured in the movie Coco, but her roots go much deeper, that. In the mid-1500s Franciscan friar, Bernardino de Sahagun, wrote of her in his book, General History of the Things of New Spain. Bernardino. He wrote that La Llorna is actually the Aztec goddess, Chihuacóatl, that cried warnings about the arrival of the Spaniards and the imminent Conquest.

In many versions of La Llorona her lover is a foreigner that leaves her, driving her to madness and murder. Consequently, another theory is that La Llorona is actually better known as La Malinche, Hernando Cortes’ lover and interpreter, considered by many to be a traitor to Mexico. La Malinche’s name is the root to the word, malinchismo, used to describe people who prefer anything foreign to the homegrown variety. I find this theory implausible since there is no mention of La Malinche ever harming her child with Cortez.

Both the Chihuacóatl and La Malinche proposed origins to La Llorona are similar to the Mexican take on the tale of St. Martha. All are metaphors for the conquering Spaniards destroying indigenous culture.

Recently I posted a photo on social media, a statue of a woman by a fountain found at a local library, where I snapped her between reading books. Though likely not by design, she did resemble my mental image of La Llorona near her mainstay, water. Folks responded to give their own version of the tale. The version I most enjoyed was from a gal working at a southwestern US university. She was tasked with starting a Latin America club. She posted around campus for folks to come to the first meeting or “La Llorona will get you that night while you shower”. The auditorium was filled with laughing students!

As with Bloody Mary, Candy Man, Dracula and countless other folktales, La Llorona will be the title character in an upcoming Warner Brothers movie. I’m not sure which impressed more, that she finally got her working papers or that there is enough water in fire-ravaged Los Angeles these days to get her from her Dressing Lagoon to the set. Competing with killer nuns, and destructive dolls, in the theaters this Spring, La Llorona has the upper hand of being a centuries old tale of a child killing monster... arguably the most famous monster Mexico has produced.

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Joseph Toone is Amazon's bestselling author of the San Miguel de Allende Secrets series of books and TripAdvisor's best rated historical walking tour guide. For more information contact toone.joseph@yahoo.com or visit History and Culture Walking Tours or JosephTooneTours.com, also on FaceBook.

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