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Another version of La Llorona: Chihuacoatl, the indigenous Mexican goddess

June 03, 2019

The famous Mexican folk song “La Llorona” is threaded throughout the musical drama La Llorona/The Weeping Woman. In many ways, it binds the work together.

Gabriela Sepúlveda, a bilingual singer based in San Jose, shared with Opera Cultura her interpretation of the folk song, and we wanted to share it with you! Her writings, below, describe a unique, alternate version of the legend of La Llorona, involving the indigenous Mexican goddess Chihuacóatl.

“I had heard “La Llorona” a few times before I decided to perform it. My favorite versions are by artists Raphael, and Chavela Vargas. I remember watching the Pixar Film “Coco” where in one scene, Miguel’s abuelita sings “La Llorona.” When I watched this scene, it really drew me in and reminded me about the strong, cultural affiliation that this song carries. It really brought the song into the present and my interest in the song grew even more. I started to listen to the song more after that, and I felt that because of the song’s slow timing and storyline, I would be able to play with it and make it my own.

When I was young, I heard about the legend of “La Llorona” that describes her as being a ghost that cries for her murdered children, but prior to rehearsing for my performance of the song, I was really curious to find the actual origins of the song in contrast to the popular creepy children's story. I did some research and found out that another version of the story was that La Llorona had origins during the Mexica Empire in Mexico. She was described as being a goddess that appeared to the Mexica and warned them about the invasion from Spanish colonizers; her name was Chihuacóatl.

Her cries are supposed to be warning calls of the Spanish conquest that would bring pain and destruction. This was the version of the story that I chose to think about when performing. I went through the song lyrics breaking it up into sections and making mental notes of what I should imagine when singing that line. When I perform the song, I feel that I am singing in respect to Mexican indigenous groups and my ancestors who faced colonization and the violence, physical and psychological oppression that was brought upon them.

For me, La Llorona represents the beauty, bravery, and history of Mexican indigenous groups. When I sing, I sing in their honor and think of La Llorona as a goddess who cared about keeping native cultures alive and safe. To me, she is a prominent, historical figure of Mexican history and culture."

—Gabriela Sepúlveda, 
gabrielasepulvedamusic.com