Art by Diana Bryer courtesy La Herencia.

La Llorona, the wailing woman, is an important part of New Mexico cultural folklore. The legend may have originated in 1520 with the Spanish conquest of Mexico. One story claims that La Malinche was the Indian mistress of the conquistador Hernan Cortes. Her punishment for those she betrayed was to be banished from society. La Malinche was destined to eternity without a home. Her listless nights were spent roaming the streets of Santa Fe, northern New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest. La Malinche searched for her lost children, which was metaphoric of her lost culture.

Legend Began in Mexico

Art by Ed Sandoval courtesy La Herencia.

An Aztec Omen

The Aztec Indians received different omens about their impending doom. One such omen that the Aztecs passed down in their oral history was the story of a woman that the people heard weeping night after night. According to the legend, La Llorona’s cries were heard ten years before Hernan Cortes and his troops actually arrived. It was an omen that the Aztec way of life was to be forever be transformed. The story of La Llorona has been passed down by the people of Mexico from generation to generation. Their ancestors all remembered the story of La Llorna as she walked the streets of Tenochtitlan. The people heard her wailing in a loud voice, “My children, we must flee far away from this city.”

The legend of La Llorona varies from each location but the gist of tale is one of of loss. It is the cost that all cultures face at the hands of their conquerors.

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