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.
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.