According to legend, La Llorona was a beautiful woman by the name of Maria who killed her children by drowning them in order to be with the man that she loved, but was subsequently rejected by him. (He might have been the children's father who had left their mother for another woman.) Then, after being rejected by her lover, she killed herself. When Maria reached the gates of heaven, she was asked, "Where are your children?" and she replied, "I don't know, my Lord." She was not permitted to enter heaven until she found her children. She now wanders the Earth for all eternity, searching in vain for her drowned offspring. Her constant weeping is the reason for her name, La Llorona.
In some cases, according to the tale, she will kidnap wandering children or children who disobey their parents.
Some legends say that she is the ghost of La Malinche, a real Nahua woman who was the translator for Hernán Cortés and gave birth to his children. Eventually, Cortés left her for a Spanish woman, and, according to legend, she killed her children out of anger.
In Chumash mythology from Southern California, La Llorona is a maxulaw, or a creature from another world. The cry of the maxulaw, and, by extension, La Llorona, is said to be an omen of death.
Main article: La Llorona (disambiguation)
- She is similar to the Paparrasolla, but this creature originates from Iberian mythology. Both creatures are depicted as threats to children.