HUERFANO— Today is Halloween. Nowadays, it is a sugar-charged, alcohol-fueled funfest, full of sexy princesses, sexy nurses, sexy ghosts and sexy garbagemen.
To some though, it is still a holiday of mystery and power, denoting a changing of the seasons, and the time when the doorway between this world and the afterworld was at its thinnest. It could also scare the bejeebers out of people.
Here in the Southwest, a perennial favorite scare story is the Weeping Woman- La Llorona.
For over 500 years, it has been a cautionary tale, designed to keep adventuresome children closer to home, and younger women to keep their desires curbed.
There are local variations to be sure, and just about every community has a place where La Llorona has been spotted.
In Walsenburg, La Llorona has been frequently spotted down by the the swinging bridge on the Bosque- the wooded area behind the Anchor Motel along the Cucharas River in the south part of town.
Here is the basic gist of the story:
A beautiful young woman, usually named Maria, falls in love with a dashingly handsome man. The man refuses to return her love, as she is already the mother of two small children.
Desperate to win his affection, she drowns her kids in the river.
Horrified, the man rebuffs her, and devastated, she in turn drowns herself.
Challenged at the gates of heaven as to the whereabouts of her children, she is not permitted to enter the afterlife until she has found them. Maria is forced to wander the Earth for all eternity, searching in vain for her drowned offspring, with her constant weeping giving her the name “La Llorona.” She is trapped in between the living world and the spirit world.
In some versions of this tale and legend, La Llorona will kidnap wandering children who resemble her missing children, or children who disobey their parents. People who claim to have seen her say she appears at night or in the late evenings from rivers or lakes, wearing a long white tattered robe. Some believe that those who hear the wails of La Llorona are marked for death.
She is said to cry, “Ay, mis hijos!” which translates to, “Oh, my children!”
Local memories of La Llorona still run deep. Shelley Rae Musilli Kern says “my grandma and Laura Garcia Day’s grandma used to tell us stories when we were in 5th-6th grade. They would scare the cr** out of us. When I was little I was terrified to live where I did! Just too close! I would run and cry to my mom. Many of us in the class of 1981 spent many nights getting scared at the swinging bridge!”
Henry G. Quintana III says, “The ‘llorona’ haunts all water ways that Mexico once owned. She was doomed to travel them looking for the children she drowned so she could be with a man that was supposedly the devil himself.”
Toby Martinez says, “La Llorona went dancing at the Silver Dollar. She had her child tied under her petticoats, to hide that she had brought a child into a bar. As she danced with a suitor, the child saw goats’ feet on his feet. The dance ended and she ran to the river, mad from the guilt of having the child in the establishment, with nothing to blame but her own promiscuities…….”
So, tonight of all nights, when the veil between worlds is wispy thin, perhaps someone might see a ragged form, dressed in white, wandering the streets and weeping. DON’T go any closer- we don’t want to lose any of you.