Monthly Archives: March 2020

La Llorona

Throughout our beautiful state, this story is told in many different versions.  The tale has been told for over 500 years, in Mexico, in *** and here in the Southwest.  It is kept alive for many reasons; to warn of the dangers of drowning, to remind starry-eyed young ladies of the danger of an unequal match to a wealthy man and as a symbol of the loss of indigenous culture following conquest.

 Here is the way we heard this tale growing up.

Once there lived a beautiful but sorrowful woman, near the banks of the Gallinas River.  Like the river itself, her dark hair flowed down across her shoulders and reached below her waist.  Her sadness was due to the death of her husband, early in the years of their happy life as a couple.  His only gift was the life growing within her. In due time, the widow gave birth to twin boys, handsome and strong like their father.  The babies brought great joy to their mother and long were the days full of laughter ringing in the air. Their mother cared deeply for them, seeing in them the memories of all that was good from her beloved husband.  Her sorrow lessened over time as she felt that her husband’s love lived on in their beautiful children. As the years passed, she began to notice a sort of cruelty growing in one of the boys. It began with harm to insects and then animals, and moved on the evil deeds done to the children nearby.  As the mother watched and tried to remove this cruel tendency, she discovered that harm was being inflicted on her other son and later, upon herself. The hatefulness of this twin seemed to grow and rejoice in every cruel deed accomplished and every sorrow inflicted. The mother tried all that she could think of.  She loved, she corrected, she prayed, she did all in her power to bring the love and kindness back to this child. Finally, by the time the twins turned 8, she felt that she had no choice but to remove the life of this evil twin from the earth and from herself and her good son.

One night, when the moon was full, she crept quietly to the boys’ room and carefully carried the sleeping son down to the river without waking him, having placed certain herbs in their supper, designed to keep one sleeping.  Her mother’s heart was as heavy as her sleeping boy but she knew that it was only a matter of time before he took the life of his own brother and others perhaps. With flowing tears, she lowered him into the deepest part of the river and kept him under until his life flowed out of his body.  She pulled his body to shore and wept until the morning but at last there was a moment of peace, knowing that she had put this evil away. She returned to the house to make breakfast for herself and her good son but soon discovered that her evil son had traded beds with his brother and was the one who had survived.  All sorrow fell upon her and she threw herself in the river until she drowned. Knowing the evil she left of the earth and the good she wrongfully destroyed, her spirit walks the banks of the river, crying and lamenting the loss of her beloved son.


The Legend of Bride’s Camp

Just up the road from our camp a few miles, on the way to Evergreen Valley, is a place known as Bride’s Camp.  Every year, on a certain night, we would go just before dusk and wait to see the ghost after dark.  Here is her story.

At last, the end of the war came.  John came home and married his intended as he had promised so many years ago.  Their wedding luncheon was a close family gathering, full of joy and sweetness of a longing fulfilled.  The couple decided to spend their wedding night in a nearby meadow, a place full of memories of their youth, of innocent play and later tenderness.  At twilight, as the stars twinkled from their daytime hiding places, John started a campfire to cook a simple meal.  His bride was brimming with fun.  Laughter bubbled up unbidden and her smile felt as if it wrapped twice around her head.  She put on her veil to go pick wildflowers before it was full dark.  Then she went to the river’s edge to fetch water and heard uneven bounding behind her.  She cried out as she turned but her cries were cut short.  John ran to the river in time to see her veil floating away and blood on the ground.    He heard the sound of the three-legged wolf, the strongest of survivors, willing to chew off his own leg rather than be caught in a trap.  The rhythm of the galloping three legs, one-two-three, one-two- three, went on and on until at last it faded and no sound was left but the clattering of the river over the rocks.

The years passed, the sorrow became a bittersweet memory, and John married again.  He raised a family and passed on his love of the great outdoors, but never again visited the meadow of his first honeymoon.  The ghost of his bride, however, returns each year on their anniversary, walking the banks of the river and the woods nearby, crying out the name of her husband, always searching to be united with her true love.