While I am more familiar with La Antigua Guatemala’s “regular” ghosts, spirits and “orbs” (you can see the latter if you take digital camera photos in the crypt at the cathedral), anyone who grew up in Antigua can recite the stories of the folkloric figures. These include La Tatuana, El Sombrerón and everyone’s favorite: La Llorona.
It appears that many of these figures originated in Mexico and spread throughout Latin America. Antigua has certainly incorporated them into local folklore with a flair of their own!
La Llorona (the crying woman) is an exceptionally beautiful woman who drowned her children to be with the man she loved. Subsequently, after being rejected by the man, she killed herself and was doomed to wander as a spirit, searching for her children, for all eternity. Her constant weeping is reflected in her name.
Sightings in Antigua? Apparently the most popular are Calle de las Ánimas (located on the north side of town) and at the Tanque La Unión (sided by 2a & 3a avenidas and 6a calle oriente). Although at night, if you listen carefully, you might hear her roaming throughout all of the old streets of Antigua crying, “Aaaaaay, mis hijos!”
While a fearful tale, the cultural symbol is as the archetypal evil woman condemned to eternal suffering and weeping for violating her role as a wife and mother. She is a failed woman because she failed at motherhood.
In the “old days,” grandmothers would warn children that bad behavior might cause her to kidnap them. Being outside after dark would definitely result in a visit from this roaming spirit. This favorite tale also warns teenage girls not to be enticed by status and wealth or men proclaiming empty declarations and promises of love! Those who hear La Llorona’s wailing might even be marked for death!
Category: Ask Elizabeth