PP is a teacher who currently resides in Bothell Washington. She is originally from Yakima, WA but her family descends from Guadalajara in Mexico. Much of her family spoke Spanish as their first language and her grandma was the first to immigrate to America. Much of her influences and culture come from that region and her upbringing in a single-mother low income household.
Are there any beliefs you had growing up that many people in your culture shared? Any superstitions?
PP: Well almost anyone you talk to who is Mexican knows about ‘El Ojo’ or ‘The evil eye’.
What is ‘el ojo’?
PP: El ojo translates to the eye but it is a belief that if you stare or look in an envious or spiteful way you can trigger the evil eye on that person. The evil eye can cause bad things to happen like sickness or trouble. Sometimes it is called Mal Ojo because it is evil. This is especially concerning to mothers of young babies because many people will stare at your beautiful child in envy. This is why mothers are more protective of their children.
Is there any way to prevent ‘el ojo’?
PP: There are healers that would say you can get rid of it with holy water or eggs if someone may have brought the evil eye onto you. It is more of a bad energy and can affect surroundings not just a person. I think that to get rid of it you have to do an entire cleanse spiritually of anything that could have been effected. There are many rituals involving an egg to identify the evil eye’s presence. I don’t think I truly believe in it but there are many people who religiously believe in this superstition and are genuinely afraid of the eye. My grandma and mother were especially afraid of it as I was growing up and warned me never to look at someone in an envious way so I didn’t bring it on someone.
I have talked to many people from Spanish backgrounds about ‘el ojo’ and it seems to be one of the most universal superstitions. People do truly believe the eye has powers and an energy that can make terrible things happen to you. The eye is associated with many accidents and illnesses and the ways to get rid of it or detect its presence are very elaborate. You have to get a healer to come and use an egg to detect if the evil eye is present and if it is the yolk will have a shape of the eye in it and then you must cleanse anything the energy could have effected. This could mean, your car, your house, or even your family and friends who could have the evil eye. Although this belief seems to make no sense and most of these things are coincidental, it is interesting how much people truly believe in it and the power of it to affect people’s lives.