Remember last time I mentioned the legend of 'The Crying Lady'? Sometimes is also called 'The Weeping Woman', but in most Latin-American cultures we know her as La Llorona and in every country you go to, you'll hear different versions of the story. The oldest one and, probably, its true origin is pre-colonial, Aztec to be more precise. In this ancient culture she was known as Chocacihuatl, which translates to 'the woman who cries'. She was supposed to be a goddess, mother of all the Aztecs. As their mother, when some imminent danger (like the conquistadors) was about to take the lives of her brood, she was heard at night crying for the death of her children through the streets. The lament was painful and scary because, if you confronted her, she might mistake you for the killer of her kids and take your soul. Clearly, she was bad news. Some ancient records of the times say that when the spaniards came to Mexico, she was heard not only by the Aztecs, but by the newcomers, inspiring fear in everyone.
The Aztecs own set of beliefs were so hard to eradicate that the old catholic friars just came up with new virgins, saints, or religious celebrations that incorporated in some way those believes. It worked like a marvel and very soon every indigenous person was a catholic. The Weeping Woman became now, the story of an indigenous woman who was abandoned by her spanish lover with two small kids and no money to raise them. In desperation she drowns them in the nearby river and then takes her life. As a punishment she's condemn to cry for her babies through the night and will kill every man in her path as a revenge for that other ungrateful man who caused her so much pain.
Ok, so, why am I telling you this? Well, this is were things get interesting. If you were to believe my paternal grandmother, her father was killed by The Weeping Lady.
This happened a long time ago, when my grandma was a young child, barely ten. She lived with her parents, brother, and two sisters in a small town something like two hours, in todays mode of transportation, from Mexico city. Back then it couldn't have been farther if it were another country. My grandfather was a member of the old Rosicrucian Order (what a figure!) but that's food for another post. In small towns like those, it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, you worked your ass and then finished the day with some drinks in the company of fellow men.
My great-grandfather was precisely going back home, late at night, after one of such evenings. He and a friend who was going the same way, were horseback ridding through the woods on their fifteen minute trip and kept chatting when a cry pierced the night. It was the voice of a woman; at first they couldn't understand what she was saying but a couple of minutes later it became clear, she was calling for her kids.
"Oh, my babies!" she was saying. The voice sounded close and they got scared.
The legend says that if she sounds close, it's time to run because she's still far from you, but if she sounds far, then hide 'cause she's real close. If a man looks at her, he becomes like enchanted and will follow her to his death without even knowing it. So they hit the horses and rode through the forest fast, with the crying sounds echoing behind them. The problem was that instead of getting closer, (remember, closer is farther) the voice sounded farther!
They got desperate and changed directions so many times, trying to get away from it, that they got lost. At that moment, from behind the closest trees, they saw a white dress floating in the air. It was a woman, she had her back to them and kept moving in the opposite direction. My grandma says that later her dad had told her he couldn't remember anything clearly after that, just thinking she was very beautiful and wanting to talk to her. They both kept going forward and a few minutes later, my great-grandad's friend fell through a precipice. They had been moving towards it without realizing it. The scream of his friend awoke my grandma's dad, and in that exact moment, the woman turned to face him.
The apparition was floating in the air and had a face like a horse. She screamed with fury and darted to him. The horse turned around and went as fast as it could for what seemed like an eternity, eventually reaching the train tracks. My grandma's house was very close, so my great-grandfather tried to push the horse to go faster but the poor animal was exhausted and fell. From that moment on, he ran home and got there crawling, out of breath, and almost dead. His whole head was white.
After that he got sick and spent a month in his bed, but he never recovered. He died looking a lot older that his real age and my grandmother never cut through the woods ever again.