On a recent trip to Colorado to see family, a few relatives claimed they had seen or knew someone who had actually spotted “La Llorona.”
Because they knew of my book, “The Weeping Woman,” which is inspired by the La Llorona tale, they shared their stories.
One relative said when she was younger she and a bunch of girlfriends were walking home one night when they spotted a woman dressed in black standing under a street light. The woman watched as they passed. When she turned back, the woman had disappeared.
My father told me of curses of witches (Brujas) had made on people.
And who hasn’t heard the story of the clicking toes nails?
I love listening to these stories. When I was a girl, they scared the hell out of me. Sure I was also frightened by those monsters in the movies on the late show. But La Llorona was terrifying because she had the aura of reality. These stories were more than culture. They were told by people who believed them.
During the Depression, the WPA created the Writers Project in which people collected cultural tales around the nation. Among those gathered were witch and ghost stories from Latinos in New Mexico. They are fascinating to read.
What I garnered from those tales, as well as the one I heard as a child, was that we are drawn to what scares us. I believe people tell and listen to these stories because they mirror real evil in the world that may strike even at good people. They are metaphors for the real wicked people out there who are ready to carry away children, and those whose souls have become black as the shadows because of their sins.
This is scary. This gives me nightmares.
But for me there was always hope. That is, there are always other people willing to fight the evil. In addition, there is also redemption for those willing to come out of shadows and into the light.