The Children of La Lllorona

It's the children of the Wailing Women who look for her

By Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez
Published on LatinoLA: January 12, 2003

The Children of La Lllorona

A native woman wails through the ancient streets of Mexico City-Tenochtitlan: "Donde estaran mis hijos?" (Where are my children?)

Who is she and where are her children? People continue to ask.

She's the woman who sired the children of a conquistador turned aristocrat who purportedly loved her. She wails every night because one day, when his bride-to-be stepped off a European ship, he banished the native woman and their children from the city. This was at a time when Europeans did not consider native people human.

Devastated, the native woman drowned her children in a nearby river, and since then has wailed through the streets looking for her children.

There are other and older stories, but this is the most widely known version of La Llorona (The Weeping Woman). Some say it's but Europeans' lies, an effort to dishonor her and cast a stain upon the children.

Even to this day, many peoples from the nearby villages and pueblos that have existed long before Europeans came to the Americas say the story was invented. That she never actually drowned her children. That they were swept away by a raging river as she bathed them. All the versions agree that no bodies were ever recovered. That's why she wails. Not because she drowned them, nor because they never received a proper burial, but because they may still be alive.

Today, if one goes downstream, people report an occasional sighting and say that her screams can still be heard in the wind. Certainly her story hasn't been forgotten. For many centuries, she was seen as the culprit. But today, no one in the nearby villages sees her that way. Quite the contrary.

They recount that it was she who cared for her children and that the conquistador cared about nothing except to slander her and the children.

There are many stories about her, but there are many more stories about the children. It is said they survived and left many tracks as they went from village to village, looking for their mother. These same stories are heard throughout the continent, especially near bodies of water. This was during the years of war and famine, a time when conquistadors were laying siege to the countryside and were busy exterminating the continent of its original peoples.

During these years, the children were taken in and raised mostly by native mothers and grandmothers. Originally, they knew not who these brown children were, yet later, they began to hear the stories spread by those who bore swords. The mothers and grandmothers had their own children to raise during these difficult times, but collectively, they cared for these lost children as best they could.

When these children grew up, they too heard the many conflicting stories. One story is that the children weren't actually the conquistador's. That the actual father was killed by him.

Many of the villagers affirm that the actual father never abandoned the children, that he was separated from them by the sword so that the conquistador could steal their beautiful mother.

For many years, the children were rejected by all, treated as if they'd been contaminated simply because they were born. The Europeans had spread rumors that she was but a woman of the streets and that her children were illegitimate mongrels.

The native mothers and grandmothers who took them in knew not the word illegitimate. They raised them to love their mother and themselves. Yet even the children also began to believe the stories as they had forgotten who their mother actually was. The more they heard the false stories, the more they despised her. Eventually, they rejected the mothers that raised them, rejected their teachings, rejected themselves and eventually they even turned on each other. Despite this, the native mothers and grandmothers accepted them, especially when the children would not accept themselves.

Nowadays, it is said it isn't La Llorona who is looking for her children, but her children who are looking for her.

In later years, there were many other lost children like them -- despised and rejected by all. It is said that today one can see them braving mountains and deserts and even crossing rivers, still looking for their mother and a place to call home. It is said that if they ever find their mother, no matter how long they've denied her and denied themselves, if they honor and come to her in a good way, that she will always embrace them and they will always have a home.

This is our parable of the brown children of La Llorona.


Image: Detail from "Llorona" by Simon Silva

About Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez:
Gonzales & Rodriguez can be reached at 817-929-3805 or

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