Mexican Evil Eye Protection Superstition

My grandmother remembers learning a protection superstition from her mother when she was 8 years old, growing up in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. This superstition related to the Evil Eye and its negative effects. She says, “I saw it, even in my family, with my little brother, Frank. He was sitting outside on a blanket, he was like a year and a month. And he was playing there and this man that lived next door came by and said, ‘Oh how cute,’ and started talking to the baby. That night he was burning with fever, so my mother told me, ‘Go get the neighbor, because he probably gave him the evil eye.’ So I went and I got him, and he came over, and my little brother was laying down in bed, and he started praying, and he used to smoke I remember, and he would inhale the smoke from the cigarette and make a little cross with the smoke on his head, on his feet, all over his body. Just crosses over his body with the smoke. And he left. After awhile, Frank was ok. He didn’t have any more fever. And I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I saw it! He got well! It’s probably hard to understand, but it’s the evil eye, they call it.”

Esperanza told the story with little nervous laughs, as if she knew what she was saying sounded funny, but also was so real to her that she had to believe it. When she was asked what she thought about what she saw, she said, “It’s hard to believe, but I saw it that he was burning in fever, he was sick, and then I caught the man, and he prayed, and he was ok after awhile! He was fine! Some people use an egg. They get an egg and make crosses all over the body with a whole egg. Just pray and make crosses on the forehead all over and all that. They crack the egg and put it in water and say, “see? Here’s the Eye. It’s no longer in you” because the yolk would be in the water. I’ve seen all these things and I don’t think they do it anymore but I don’t know… I was young, you know, I used to watch all that, and I don’t know, they jut said someone gave them the Evil Eye and that’s how they cleaned their bodies.”

I think that being exposed to a superstition so young instills a sense of belief in the person who witnesses it, especially if the superstition is adhered to stringently.  My grandmother, many years later during this interview, seemed to begin to doubt the accuracy of what she saw, and the effectiveness of it – yet she never said she no longer believes in the superstition.