Tag Archives: aloe vera

Aloe and Bad Energy

Background: The informant is a 26 year old female who lives in a suburb of Chicago. She was born and raised around the city with her grandparents, mother, and younger brother. Her grandparents, immigrants from Mexico, imparted most of their knowledge to the informant.

Context: The context was, when speaking to the informant over the phone, she mentioned how one plant liquefied, and was asked questions surrounding the meaning of it.


VA: I was always taught, growing up by my grandparents and mom, that plants soak up the bad energy in a home.

Me: Any particular plants, or is it just any one?

VA: Aloe. If someone with bad intentions or, uh, jealousy comes into your home, the aloe takes the hit for you. So, that’s why sometimes they’ll spontaneously liquify themselves. 

Me: Liquefy?

VA: It’s like, basically the plant completely deflates and is dead. Like, the plant will be perfectly fine, people show up with bad energy, and when they’re gone, the plant is dead.

Me: Is it always aloe?

VA: Sometimes animals take the hit, too. That’s what my mom said happened to my budgies [birds].


Informant: It’s something she deeply believes in, being told many times throughout her life that it was something that would happen upon bad energy. She didn’t seem to question anything about it.

Mine: Plants have long had an association with the supernatural, typically to treat illnesses. In a sense, having bad energy may be considered a supernatural illness and something to be treated, as it is still making the body worsen. Aloe may be the main plant that soaks up bad energy because aloe is commonly used to soften the skin, which draws up the image of breaking through a barrier. It’s like the aloe plant softens the skin, allowing the bad energy to slowly seep out, but in the process, it sucks away all the energy from the plant itself. It’s just like trading one life force for another, with the plant giving life for a human being. The concept of animals also deflating seems a unique touch to their familie’s folklore, or may be something the mother told the child as an excuse for what truly happened to the budgies, creating a scenario where superstition becomes the modern excuse.

Aloe Vera

Main Piece:


The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as AF. I am marked as DG.


AF: I know my grandma uses aloe vera on everything, like she grows it outside. But you know, I feel like, um, a lot of Hispanic people do that–they just put aloe vera on everything. Stuff like, well like for things like burns, or acne, or like anything on your skin-not like if you have a fever or something.





The conversation was recorded while sitting in the lobby of a dorm at the University of Southern California. The story itself was told to the interviewee by his grandmother, as they sat in their living room. He was asking her about folklore in order to feel more in touch with his roots.




The student is from Huntsville Alabama, but took a gap year in New York City, NY, before attending the University of Southern California as a School of Cinematic Arts major. They are a sophomore, and come from an Italian Hispanic background.




This is a homeopathic remedy that I myself have used in the past, so I can allude to the strong belief that it works well. In my case, I had used it for acne, as a more natural face wash. I liked how in the telling he added to the cultural background of the remedy, saying that many Hispanic families use aloe vera often. I also enjoyed seeing how this is a cross-generational tradition that was passed down. Additionally, aloe vera is used often by the majority of people for sunburns, but most people don’t tend to think about the other skin purposes of it, so it was interesting to see the cultural insight to more uses from AF’s perspective.