My informant is a student who has very deep connections to her hispanic culture. She shared with me a Mexican folk Legend that she heard as a child, and explained to me the significance of this legend.
“Then I grew up being scared of the legend of ” La Llorona” also known as the weeping woman. My cousins would scare me when the electricity went off they said she would come for me as she picked other kids from the street.”
I asked her to elaborate more on the legend, and this is what she told me. “La Llorana is a spirit who comes out at night, the name means ‘crying lady’. She comes for children because she lost her own and you can hear her crying all night long.”
My informant repeated the legend, with the implication that at one point she had really believed in the existence of the spirit. She clearly had a belief that this spirit could really be responsible for events such as a power outage, and that it was a foreshadowing of her arrival. Her fear may have arisen out of a common cultural background, of hearing stories about La Llorana and her intended targets all her childhood.
In my research, I have discovered La Llorana referenced in scholarly literature and its origins analyzed. Apparently the legend of La Llorana traces its origins back to 1550, when the first reports of a ‘woman in white’ first surfaced. There are many variants of the legend, although one analysis traces La Llorana to Mesoamerican roots, comparing the ghostly figure to the goddess Cihuacoatl. It is an interesting interpretation, that it was a prototype of the legend. However the weeping woman is not restricted only to mexican legends, but may also be found in various cultures around the world, possibly indicating a common motif.
Kirtley, Bacil F. “” La Llorona” and Related Themes.” Western Folklore (1960): 155-168.