Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major. He is a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. His family is from Mexico but he has lived in Southern California for nearly all of his life.
Context: I was talking to Fabian about Mexican stories and folklore. He shared with me the following superstition that is prominent in his family’s village where his grandmother still lives.
Item: “If someone is feeling bad, not always, but sometimes. What they do is they get this massage with an egg that has been dipped in holy water. They just kind of rub it on your back, arms and stuff. Then they make the sign of the cross on your back, chest and forearms. It’s supposed to be a blessing kind of thing. Once you’re done, you crack the egg in a cup of water. When you do it, the egg, which has been shaken from being rolled around your body, has a very opaque yolk which kind of represents the evil from your body. The yolk is then released from the egg, and, supposedly the evil, which is contained in that opaque yolk, is then released from the body and dispelled into the water. This is usually done by older women. There are some people that have a lot of knowledge/spiritual energy to them that perform a lot of these massages for people in the villages. A lot of the older women – the grandmothers – mostly know how to do it.”
Informant Analysis: Many superstitions in Mexico involve direct contact and touching using crosses, since Mexico is such a religious place.
Analysis: This superstition seems to involve the idea of contagious magic, the idea that things that have been in direct contact can have influence and interact with each other. The informant’s comment that many superstitions involve direct contact and touching seems to reinforce that Mexican beliefs heavily involve contagious magic. It makes sense that Crosses are used due to the deeply religious nature of the country.
The opaque egg yolk symbolizing the presence of evil brings about the idea of order being good and disorder being bad. Something being jumbled up represents disorder, something that civilization and society has tried to eliminate.
The fact that older women usually perform this ritual exhibits the very powerful position that they have in Mexican familial hierarchy, as they are revered as being knowledgeable and beyond reproach by anyone else in the family. The informant recounted a time when he yelled at his grandmother and was ostracized from his extended family for months after. It is possible to disobey/yell at other family members, but the grandmother is off limits, showing the position they hold in Mexican familial structures.