Why Does the Weeping Woman Weep?

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Horror Mystery and Lore NA
La Llorona walking away
Photography by Caroline Hernandez

The Tale of the Weeping Woman is an ultimately tragic one, but because of this grim tale, her story has been told as a bedtime story and over a campfire as a means of entertainment for over a hundred years—this legend is known most often as La Llorona, the weeping woman, and the wailing woman.

This grieving woman’s story has changed from family to family, as well as with each generation of storytellers. In most of the popular versions of her story, she is portrayed in three main ways—the first, La Llorona appears as an indigenous woman whose husband has cheated on her, in an attempt to seek revenge for his infidelity, she drowned her children in a river but was immediately so remorseful as she looked upon her dead children that she committed suicide alongside them. The second version, La Llorona is the spirit of the Aztec Goddess Chihuacoatl, who as an omen that foretold the devastation of the Aztec society by the arrival of the Spaniards. In the third most popular variation, La Llorona is actually the spirit of Doña Marina, or La Malinche—in life she was the lover and interpreter for Hernan Cortés; in the Mexican community she was considered a traitor—it is believed that Cortés betrayed her with a Spanish woman and she subsequently drowned both of her children in her own despair.

No matter the rendition, she is as popular as ever having drifted into mainstream horror culture and broken the barrier between cultural significance and American entertainment when The Curse of La Llorona was released in 2019.

Ghost reaching up from the water
Photography by Ian Espinosa

True Encounters with La Llorona

Like any great legend, there are known encounters with the subject of the legend itself—in this case, La Llorona has been experienced all over Mexico and the adjoining United States. These particular cases seem to underline a different side of La Llorona though, a side which emphasized more of a maternal nature than that of a murderer.

Mexico City, Mexico

In Mexico City, a large family of nine was being haunted by a shadowy figure in the toddler’s bedroom—seeing this figure out of the corner of their eyes was just the first stage of this encounter with La Llorona. Soon whenever they would catch a glimpse of her figure, they began to hear the sound of sobbing in the distance.

The manifestations only got stronger and more rampant after a priest was brought in to cleanse and bless what was thought to be a malevolent entity from the home. Soon, the physical form of the apparition began to appear as a woman in white, who the family recognized as La Llorona; she began moving chairs as well as opening and closing doors. One night they captured movement on the baby monitor, which upon further inspection turned out to be the blanket being moved as if the child were being tucked in by an invisible force. After trying all other avenues, the parents took their toddler to the doctor, at which time they found the child was suffering from medical issues that would have turned fatal if left untreated. Once the child was being treated all manifestations of La Llorona ceased.

Guanajuato, Mexico

Another case of La Llorona appeared to a family of five, where the mother, father, and oldest son would see glimpses of this weeping apparition, who was always standing near the two youngest children. It was strange because the two children she would always hover around would never see her themselves, despite the natural ability of children to be more perceptive to paranormal phenomena that may occur around them. As the manifestations progressed, the sounds of wailing would sweep through their home in the middle of the night and randomly during the day—this would wake everyone in the house except for the children who would never hear her cries.

La Llorona walking in shallow water
Photography by Rafael Alcure

The manifestations of her spirit and her screams of grief frequented this family more and more often, even when the extended family came to help. The parents became thoroughly concerned for the two youngest children and sent them to stay with their extended family for a period of time and as soon as the children left, so did the regular hauntings of La Llorona. While the children were staying with their extended family, they had planned to have their cousin stay with them for several months and they immediately told him about their experiences with La Llorona. The weirdest part is that a day before the children were set to return, the cousin was arrested and charged with multiple counts of child abuse.

Jarácuaro, Mexico

A single mother and her two children took refuge with the mother’s sister, the plan was that they would stay with her for the foreseeable future, so they ended up moving into one of the rooms in the back of the sister’s aging home. As soon as the three moved in, the entire house began to hear bizarre noises at night, which were eerie footsteps along the floorboards, doors, and cabinets opening and closing at random, as well as the sound of stifled crying. Day and night, the crying began to be accompanied by an apparition of what the family believed to be La Llorona, who would only manifest very briefly.

Even after the home was blessed by a priest, the sightings wouldn’t cease. The mother awoke one night to an unnerving scene, one of her children was sitting on the foot of the bed, speaking to what looked like a shadowy figure near the bed where they all slept. The next day, her child told her that the apparition, who the child referred to as the “nice lady,” told them that they needed to stay in the front room instead. Heeding the ghost’s warning, the mother moved herself and her children out of the back bedroom and into the living room—and none too soon, as two nights later the entire room caved into a sinkhole that had formed below the back portion of the house.

So why does the weeping woman weep? What version of La Llorona did you hear as a child? Let us know in the comments below!

Why the Dead Come Back to Haunt Us

Categories
Horror Mystery and Lore

A common question on the minds of those who believe in ghosts, is what causes a dead person to reappear as a ghost? Unfortunately, this topic isn’t as well researched as the topic of whether or not ghosts actually exist, so there is no real scientific data to back it up—but there is plenty of folklore and a bounty of ghost culture to draw appropriate conclusions from. If you have friends like mine, you’ve likely heard the words, “if I die, I’m coming back to haunt you!” This is largely due to the extensive amount of lore that exists about ghosts and what may have caused the deceased person to turn into a ghost after passing. There are reasons that are not quantifiable by science that cause the spirit to linger after death, whether it be justice or revenge—as was displayed in The Tale of the Red Skeleton, as well as The Ghost’s Tea Kettle, the ghost usually has a reason to come back—soul-consuming grief or simply unfinished business that needs to be attended to, or settled before they can rest.

Common Apparitions That Haunt the Living

These are, of course, assumptions based on select ghost sightings, most of these sightings are ones that can be considered common, where the history corroborates any reason for the ghost to be there at all.

The White Lady

The White Lady walking through the forest
Photography by Chirobocea

As can be assumed by their moniker, a White Lady or Lady in White is a female ghost, whose apparition is always fully clothed in white. Her appearance is always associated with a local tragic legend and she appears in areas that used to be either rural or continue to be rural. The White Lady apparitions are found across the world and are especially prominent in English-speaking countries, or places where there used to be a large English-speaking community. The appearance of one of these spirits follows the history of a woman committing suicide after the heartbreak of losing a child, husband, or father—with a heavy emphasis of innocence on the part of the woman who ends up becoming the White Lady. It is theorized by ghost hunters and enthusiasts alike, that the appearance of these spirits is due to a lingering connection to the world of the living, even after death, due to the magnitude of the grief that they experienced just prior to their deaths.

The Lady in Red

The Red Lady standing alone in a room
Photography by Vladimir Fedotov

In what would appear to be direct opposition to the White Lady, the Red Lady is also a female ghost, but her sightings are attributed to a woman that was not quite as chaste. The Red Lady or Lady in Red is always associated with a woman who displayed vanity in life, a prostitute that was the victim of passion gone wrong, or a jilted lover. Not unlike the White Lady, the Red Lady is found worldwide. She does haunt different types of locations though; places that have historic value, such as old hotels, theatres, and other public venues. There is a particularly large concentration of them that are located in old mining communities, due to the commonality of brothels being such a booming business. It is important to note that in the case of this kind of apparition, the woman is wearing a red dress and is commonly thought of as a victim of objectification. Despite her poor treatment in life, she is never really described as a hostile spirit, but may not be overly friendly all the time.

The Witte Wieven

Witte Wieven amassing as fog on a hill
Photography by Ricardo Angel Gomez

The folklore of the Witte Wieven dates back to the pre-Christian era of what is now known as the Netherlands, Belgium, and France—they are the spirits of wise women, who in life were the highly regarded female herbalists and healers, who cared for the physical and mental ailments of their people. Much like the White Lady, the Witte Wieven is said to appear as a pure white apparition, but instead of a clear figure, she is more of a fog or a mist the engulfs the entirety of the location she appears in. More often than not, when the Witte Wieven is mentioned in the text, it is often cited that they were known for their ability of prophecy and generally looking into the future. These women held such a high status that upon their deaths, a celebration would be held at their burial site in their honor. With the trend of other spirits lingering on due to some type of woe, or unfinished business, it might seem strange that the Witte Wieven, according to their mythology, remain on the earthly plane in order to help and sometimes hinder those who encounter them at their gravesites and other sacred locations.

What Haunts the Dead?

It’s not quite clear if there is always a reason for a spirit to remain behind, as the spirits mentioned above are just common cases that have been reported and can easily be tracked by their notoriety. It’s important to keep an open mind to the idea that there may be another reason why these spirits are unable to move on—but with the limited information that is available on the where, why, and how of spirits and their manifestations, it is commonly believed that these spirits are equally haunted by the living as the living are haunted by the dead.