Monster Monday: White Lady

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the White Lady.

Engraving by Léon Benett for the novel Le Château des Carpathes by Jules Verne 1892
Engraving by Léon Benett for the novel Le Château des Carpathes by Jules Verne 1892

The legend of the White Lady is a popular ghost story throughout Europe which has traveled to the United States and Latin America. In most versions of the story. The White Lady is a woman who died tragically, often a suicide, sometimes on her wedding night and sometimes after the death of her children (which she may have caused).

The stories are usually similar in that people report to see an apparition of a woman dressed all in white near the location of her tragic death. Usually it is nothing more than a sighting, but sometimes the White Lady is a malevolent spirit that tries to harm the living. Also, she is sometimes said to foretell a death when she appears.

In Scotland, there is a White Lady associated with Glamis Castle. She is supposedly the daughter of a nobleman who had an affair with a manservant. As punishment, she was locked in a tower. She committed suicide by jumping out the window. She is seen on the castle grounds and in the room where she was imprisoned.

In several locations in Great Britain there are legends of White Women whose husbands went off to war and never returned. These women wandered the woods near their homes with their children until one day they were assaulted by soldiers who took the children. They haunt the woods they once wandered looking for their children and can be aggressive toward people they encounter.

A similar legend is that of La Llorona, popular in Mexico and the American Southwest. Her name means the “Weeping Woman” because she is constantly crying. According to the story, she murdered her children to be with the man she loved, but when he refused her, she killed herself. Prevented from entering heaven, she wanders the earth, looking for her children. Sometimes she is said to try to kidnap children who look like hers.

The origin of the White Woman legends may be associated with stories of female fairies.

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