Tag Archives: Latinx folk belief

Egg Healing

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation:
Residence:
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language:
Other Language(s):

Context:

MV is a 2nd generation Mexican-American from New Mexico. Half of her family is of Japanese-Mexican descent and much of her extended family lives in Mexico. I received this item from her in a video conference call from our respective homes. She knows about this practice from her nana (grandmother) but she has never had it conducted on herself.

Text:

MV: When someone gives you the ojo… the lady, this could be your nana, or like anyone really, they could get an egg and rub it all over your body, and then all the bad energy goes in the egg.

JS: What’s the ojo?

MV: The ojo is when someone puts the ojo on you, like… if I gave you the ojo you’d be getting some bad energy. It’s like I bewitched you.

You pray a little bit and then rub it over your body… you do the cross up here (draws a cross on her forehead with her finger) and then just rub the egg over the rest of your body.

And then some people even say if you crack the egg in a glass of water, and like you see a trail, like in the water from the yolk, that’s the bad energy. But some people don’t do that.

JS: So it has to be, like, a special someone?

MV: Yeah usually it’s the brujería person… a bruja, a witch I guess… all nanas are like that.

Thoughts:

The association of eggs with luck and goodness has long and deep roots. Venetia Newall provides a sketch of the various uses of eggs in ritual, magic, and belief: cosmological models, magical properties, the notion of resurrection, games and festivals emphasizing fertility and fecundity. (Newall) Her study focusses mainly on egg-lore in an Indo-European context but these significances resonate with our example here. The notion here is that eggs have healing properties, capable of dispelling and absorbing “bad energy.” The association of the egg with rebirth, shedding of old ways, fertility, youth, suggests that here, the egg is valued for its life-giving properties. Brujería likely has a long history that cannot be fully examined here but of note in this example is that the bruja, or intermediary, is always an old female – “all nanas are like that.” There is a kind of magic associated with older females which resonates with the egg as a symbol of fertility, the womb, and a source of life. In this variation, the catholic gesture of signing the cross on one’s body is present with some notable exceptions to the mainstream church’s gesture. The cross is made on the forehead, combined with the secular folk magic of the egg. This is not the gesture sanctioned by the catholic church as an international institution, but a gesture that incorporates elements of both secular, paganistic belief as well as religious reference: it is both Catholicism and Brujería, a mix of Christianity with a folk magic which the Catholic church has historically demonized. This healing practice is thus a way of combining multiple sacred traditions and forming a unique model of spirituality that sets secular magic against and alongside the hegemonic colonial forces of Catholicism.

Newall, Venetia. “Easter Eggs.” The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 80, No. 315. (Jan. – Mar., 1967), pp. 3-32

El Cucuy

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican-American
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: Arizona
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/3/2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Context:

MV is a 2nd generation Mexican-American from New Mexico. Half of her family is of Japanese-Mexican descent and the other half is mestizo. Much of her extended family lives in Mexico. I received this story from her in a video conference call from our respective homes. She learned this story from her grandmother, who told it to her when she was a child.

Text:

JS: Tell me the story of El Quiqui (alternatively el cucuy)

MV: All right so el quiqui lives in tunnels in the mountains. And he’s a really creepy guy who takes away bad children and eats them. There’s this girl, her name is Rosa or some other Mexican shit it doesn’t really matter (laughs). And she’s such a good kid, always does her chores, is obedient and all that. Her sister, though, her name is… Margarita (laughs), she’s awful, just a bad kid all around. So one night el quiqui comes and takes her to the mountains. Rosa goes up and just as he is about to eat Margarita, she saves her, and also finds all these other kids in his tunnels and sets them free.

JS: What do you think the story means?

MV: Classic. Classic! “Do your chores or you’re gonna get eaten (laughs)”

Thoughts:

The practical utility of this legend, as the informant stated above, is obvious. It is a tool for persuading children to take care of household duties. Paradoxically, to give them a sense of responsibility, the story scares them into obedience. The informant’s response, “classic,” suggests that household duty and obedience are important parts of being a woman in a Mexican family. Interestingly, in this informant’s account, the two children were girls. This gendering of the objects of El Cucuy’s aggression suggests that young girls are more often trained at a young age to assist with chores around the house than young boys. The faithful Rosa is a model child, one with a sense of responsibility to her sister and to her family. She is a model of domesticity and virtue. Additionally, El Cucuy is masculine, suggesting that a girl who is not obedient will be taken away and consumed by a mysterious and dangerous man. The story can be used to scare children into doing their chores, but it also contains a gendered lesson of matronly duty and selflessness, that if one does not practice obedience, she will end up with an unfavorable man and meet her demise.

For a more comprehensive look at El Cucuy and other Mexican children’s folk legends, see Domino Renee Perez’s book There was a woman: La Llorona from folklore to popular culture

Perez, Domino Renee. There was a woman: La Llorona from folklore to popular culture. University of Texas Press, 2008.

Egg for Protection (against El Ojo)

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican-Salvadorian-American
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/1/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Context/Background: The informant is Salvadoran and Mexican-American and had grown up surrounded with the use of eggs to absorb bad energy. It had common connections to “el ojo,” something that is given to someone through magic, typically young, with the intent of inflicting harm.

[Face-to-face conversation]

“There’s something that any Hispanic person that you talk to will tell you this. Um, if something bad happens, you take an egg and you like… put the egg over your body. I don’t know if you’ve seen the video- they do it to a dog. But, you put it all over your body, and that egg is supposed to take out all the badness in you. So supposedly when people cast… um like spells on you… like, these wizards- these people that do bad things- and when… but one of the big things that happens to you is El Ojo. So El Ojo happens when like… let’s say I have a child, right? And a woman… or like anyone can come up to me and be like… ‘Hey can I hold your kid, right?’ And then if I say no, I run the risk of them giving my child El Ojo, and if my child is given El Ojo, he will die. Like, they will die. It happens. And the only way to cure that is to do like… the egg thing, or to give the person the child. And any Latinx new mother will be told like… ‘Be careful. Your kid can get El Ojo.’ That’s really common- not just Mexico; El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras. Very common.”

Introduction: The informant was introduced to this through her mother.

Analysis: I’ve vaguely heard of using an egg to collect bad energy; however, I’ve recently become more familiar with “the evil eye,” something coinciding with “el ojo” in different Latino cultures. To my understanding, the evil eye refers to what can be given to someone, typically without their knowledge. Oftentimes, many people wear something (typically a necklace or perhaps a piece of clothing) which is to ward off anyone giving them this eye. El ojo, as described to me, means “the eye” in Spanish and is given to people, typically young babies. I find this interesting because in the context of what I’ve been exposed to it, it’s been more socialized with adults rather than newborns.

El Ojo is essentially similar to the Evil Eye, except it is performed by wizards and Santeria practitioners in Latin American regions.

 

For more information on another rendition of el ojo, “the evil eye,” refer to

Heaphy, L. (2017, May 2). The Evil Eye Powerful Protective Talisman. Retrieved from https://kashgar.com.au/blogs/ritual-objects/the-evil-eye-and-the-hamsa