Today my Lesbian and Gay Literature class started discussing Felicia Luna Lemus‘s Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties. The novel is about a Latina named Leticia, as the book’s back cover tells us, “immerses herself in the post-queer hipster scene in Los Angeles.”

Leti begins her story by telling us that it is “really about my girl Weeping Woman, Nana, and me” (3). I thought it was important to make sure my students understood the folklore surrounding the Weeping Woman, so I did a little internet research to give them.

The story of the Weeping Woman, or La Llorona, exists in several forms. In all of them, she kills her children by drowning them. Her spirit now roams the earth looking for naughty children to snatch away and make her own.

During my research, I came across the following video on Youtube. I’ve completely fallen in love with it.

The song is a Mexican folksong. I found a few different translations of the song, which also appears in several different versions. Here’s one translation.

Wikipedia also has a good page on La Llorona. I also found this great page on Domino Renée Perez’s work on the myth. The article mentions that feminist scholars “reinterpret the narrative as resistance to patriarchy.” As it explains, “By focusing on the agency of women to both create and end life, women can revise and transform the tale into one of empowerment instead of despair.” There’s also a good piece on the National Public Radio website on the folk song.

Listening to this song on Youtube is making me want to find a good album version. There are so many to choose from! So far my favorite is by Lila Downs:

Apparently, a lot Spanish students make videos about La Llorona and put them on Youtube too. If I didn’t have something else to work on, the story of La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, would be fun to read more about. There are children’s books, short stories, and scholarly monographs about her.