The legend of La Llorona comes from Mexican folklore and is very popular in pop culture, especially within the horror scene. La Llorona, also known as the Weeping Women, is a spirit of a mother searching for her lost children in the river whilst crying in remorse.
The legend is a typical love story of a poor women from a rural town known as Maria, who although was from an extremely poor household, was very well-known around the village for her outstanding beauty. On one day, a wealthy nobleman was passing through the village when he saw Maria and stopped dead in his tracks by her beauty. They soon became head over heels for each other, and when he proposed she immediately said yes to his offer.
Maria's family was over the moon with Maria marrying into a rich household, although the nobleman's father was displeased with his child marrying into poverty. Once married, they built a home in the village in order to escape from the displeased father and begun a family together. Maria gave birth to twins: A boy and a girl. Maria is often to be known to have raised their children mostly alone as her husband was mostly traveling; he eventually stopped spending time with his family completely, and when he was home he only took notice of his children.
Maria learned her husband was falling out of love with her as he completely ignored her existence and being all together; the only part of her he saw was with their children. Her thoughts slowly became reality, and when he left, he never returned to his family.
A few years went by, and Maria and her children slowly adapted to him leaving them, when Maria and the twins were taking a walk by their local river. She saw a very familiar carriage with a more younger, beautiful women next to her former husband. Maria was rightfully outraged and confused by what she had witnessed, and without a single thought, she picked up her twins and threw them into the river out of pure rage. This ultimately drown the twins.
After she saw her children's bodies floating on the surface of the water, she realised what she had done, and in remorse and sorrow, she jumped in with the hope she would meet the same fate of her children.
Maria now resides at the river for all eternity in search of her children, as she could not bare the thought of living alone knowing what she had done. Maybe she realised her beloved children were the only piece of him she had left? Maybe she thought she could win him over again?
Many believe when Maria arrived at the gates of heaven that she was forbidden to enter the afterlife until her children were found and she was forced to wander the Earth in a desperate search for her children.
As always, it should be noted that folklore will always change and be rewritten depending on the country and religious beliefs of a person. Folklore is always dependent on the location and time period, as it is never specific to one location. The story of La Llorona is known widely throughout many areas of Latin America, but changes from country to country and beliefs.
In some versions of this legend, La Llorona kidnaps wandering children that resembles her own and asks for forgiveness for her sins before killing them to take the place of her children she lost. Those who claim to be witnesses to La Llorona have said she appears at the night or late evening, mainly by the river or lakes, and many believe that if you hear her cries of pain and remorse that they could bring misfortune or even death. Many parents in Mexico use this story nowadays to scare their children from staying out too late. People believe those who hear her cries are marked for death, but those who managed to flee her in time are not marked. Many compare this to a Gaelic banshee myth.
Another version of La Llorona is the Guatemalan version of this legend. And in this legend, it is said that when her cries sound near, she's actually very distant and the nearer they are, the further she is. People think that this is to confuse the victim(s) to believe they are safe.
In pop culture, La Llorona is very frequently seen in the horror genre, especially if they are using a classical movie trope of a crying women dressed in a white gown with black hair drooped over her face. Of course, there are more memorable moments in cinema history where they have used the legend of La Llorona, rather than the women in white, such as the 1961 Mexican movie The Curse of the Crying Women (La Maldición de La Llorona), which happens to involve the resurrection of her spirit.
La Llorona also appeared as the first ever antagonist in the 2005 pilot episode of the successful TV series Supernatural. The women in white who, after discovering her husband's infidelity, took the lives of her two children by drowning them in a bathtub at their home. She then took her own life by jumping off a bridge into a river. The woman in white was destroyed by her own guilt from killing them.