Tag Archives: bad energy

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.

Egg Cleanings


M is a Mexican immigrant and mother of three. She has used folk medicine to cure some of the ailments of her children throughout the years. She learned the techniques from her mother and uses them on her children and grandchildren now.

The context of this piece was during a dinner when I asked if she knew any folk medicine methods and she knew of one that could be used on anyone.


M: “Muy bien, este método se puede utilizar en cualquier persona y se puede hacer por su cuenta o alguien más puede ayudarle. Pero tienes que agarrar un huevo y te tienes que persignar. Repítelo de tres a cinco veces mientras recitas un pasaje bíblico. Cuando hayas terminado, rompe el huevo en media taza de agua mezclada con sal. Lo que haya en la taza es la mala energía que tenías. Por lo general, después de poner el huevo en la taza se vería diferente de lo que sería un huevo normal sin cocinar. Si el huevo se ve blanco, como si estuviera algo cocido, entonces esa es la cantidad de mala energía que tienes.”


M: “Okay, this method can be used on anyone and can be done on your own or someone else can help you with it. But you have to grab an egg and make the sign of the cross on your chest. Repeat it three to five times while reciting a biblical passage. When you are done, break the egg into half a cup of water mixed with salt. Whatever is in the cup is the bad energy you had. Usually after you put the egg in the cup it would look different than a normal uncooked egg would. If the egg looks white, as if it is somewhat cooked, then that is the amount of bad energy it has.”


I really enjoyed having this interview with M and learning about this form of folk medicine. Before this interview, I had not heard of anything like this, so it was a nice learning experience to have. I thought it was interesting to hear about how this process is performed and the ingredients that go into it. Everyday objects that can be found in almost anyone’s home is used for this process which is why I was so surprised by how accessible and easy it is to perform. It was also interesting to hear how the bad energy is extracted and then transferred into something that is visible like the whites of the egg.

Rubbing the belly of a pregnant woman to absolve it of “El mal de ojo” or bad energy

Main Piece

Informant: This one is weird because strangers can just come up to you and ask to rub your belly. It happened to me. If a woman has an impure thought or is envious when they see a pregnant woman, usually it is about them not being able to have a child, they ask the pregnant woman if they can rub their stomach so that their child doesn’t have “Mal de Ojo” or any bad energy. The Mal De Ojo is between the woman to woman, but the baby is caught in the middle, so they rub the stomach to absolve the baby if that makes sense. I have never seen a man do it, that would be kind of..weird. Oh! And the woman rarely discloses why she rubbed the belly, it is more about absolving their conscience so when it happens you just kind of let them rub it so your baby can get cleansed. It is very odd, it is kind of scary because you find out these women are having bad thoughts about you. It is even scarier to think about the ones who don’t rub the stomachs and just let the bad energy impact the baby.  

Interviewer: Did this ever happen to you?

Informant: One time. The person didn’t even know I was pregnant because I wasn’t showing. I just think she was talking ill of me and found out I was pregnant and rubbed my stomach. She probably thought I was just getting fat haha haha. She was an acquaintance of my ex-husband’s family, so that explains a lot haha. 

Interviewer: Can you explain more about El Mal de Ojo?

Informant: It is interpreted as an evil eye. In the sense of pregnancy the evil is are the ill thoughts of the woman, only she knows why. To try and remedy their conscience they rub the stomach, and disclose if they may “ay no lo quiero dar el mal de ojo, me permites?” (“I don’t want to give the baby the evil eye, may I?”) You do it in an apologetic way, to secure the baby and to get forgiveness for having those bad thoughts. I think its humanity. I think it is an immediate remedy to perhaps absolve an ll thought. People have ill thoughts all of the time- jealousy, comparison. So they do it to apologize in a way, and to save the baby from these ill thoughts, because they don’t deserve that. 


The informant is my mother, a Mexican woman who is first-generation and the oldest of 3, who was born and raised in San Ysidro,CA  a border town just north of Tijuana, Mexico. Influenced by memories and conversations with her great great grandmother, many of her practices, customs, and beliefs were passed down from her maternal side of Mexican customs. Fluent in both English and Spanish, the informant has always felt conflicted about her culture as she wanted to fit in with American customs but wanted to preserve her Mexican heritage and traditions. The informant had her first child when she was 18, and worked her way as a single mother with two kids to attain her Master’s Degree and is now the Executive Vice President at a non-profit health clinic that serves the community she was raised in.


My whole life I have heard of this premonition, and saw it for the first time when my sister was pregnant and a stranger at a store came up to her and asked to rub her stomach. With that story in mind, I asked the informant more about it and she explained. 


This is a very interesting form of folk magic, superstition, and protection. At the end of the day, this practice stems from a belief of magic harming the baby just from a glance. However, I think it is interesting that the act of this practice requires someone to admit that they were sending bad energy in the first place. However, as the informant describes it is more to protect the baby who doesn’t deserve to be impacted by that bad energy. This demonstrates the link of witchcraft to women, and is also a form of superstition present in Mexican communities.