Tag Archives: magic

The Cursed Daughter

The interlocutor (JG) has many relatives living in Mexico and is a first-generation Mexican American themself. The area their family is from is very superstitious about witches, curses, and magic. The following describes one of the stories about curses being put on a member of that community.

DESCRIPTION: (told over a phone call)
(JG): “Okay-but, so- basically, um…my grandma has a house in Mexico. She lives here now, um, ‘cuz she came over here but like, she still has her house in Mexico. And that’s where we stay whenever we go visit. Um, and she told us this story about how when she was younger, her next-door neighbor, this older woman, had a daughter. And the daughter got cursed by someone. They don’t know what happened. They probably think it had something to do with a…cheating situation, ‘cuz that was a lot of the things back then, or…even now. Yeah. And so she got cursed.

So apparently she got really, really skinny, like she completely lost her appetite. Um… she started throwing up lizards, and they said that like, nails started coming out of her head. I’m not sure if it’s like, fingernails or if it was like, steel nails. But yeah, my grandma wouldn’t really ever see her, since she was always inside the house and stuff, but she started getting really, really bad. And so they started a healing process, like, they brought a healer. And one of that included like, putting a lizard in a jar and like letting it shrivel up and die, and that killed off that part of it. Um… and then they tried to do like, an exorcism-type-of-thing. But, something went wrong and like, the house started catching fire. But it was only that house.

And so like, that house is still burnt—like, we can see it when we go. The daughter, I think, turned out fine, like everything turned out okay, but that was one thing that happened.”

I’m curious about the effects of the curse, from the lack of appetite to the more surreal aspects, such as the lizards and the nails. I’m conflicted about the legitimacy of this story, since JG did bring up how everyone in their grandmother’s community knew about it but never really saw the girl, so all of the information they had was mostly word-of-mouth. I’m also unsure about whether this was a result of homeopathic or contagious magic, and while JG doesn’t know too many details of the curse itself, they do know that many kinds of these curses have some connection to the person’s corporeal self, so I’m leaning more towards understanding this curse as a form of contagious magic.

Witchcraft and Curses in Mexico

The interlocutor (JG) has many relatives living in Mexico and is a first-generation Mexican American themself. The area their family is from is very superstitious about witches, curses, and magic. The following describes one of the stories about the community’s cemeteries acting as a hotspot for placing curses

DESCRIPTION: (told over the phone)
(JG): “There’s also a really….because witchcraft is just like—fairly common in Mexico, especially in the cemeteries. So like, when we went to the cemetery, ‘cuz we went to go visit my uncles and we also went for like, a spooky little tour that they do.

There’s this grave that’s like, split open, like it’s broken open, and they regularly have to send people to like, check, because they put like, little witchcraft charms in there to curse people…because of, like, the energy of the cemetery. So they do that.

And then also, when we went to go visit my uncle, my brother saw something sticking out of the ground. And he was like, “What is that?” (He was like, younger.)

So he went to like, dig it out and it was a picture of a guy and it had like a coin and some pottery stuff… and it was meant to cure him. And that man had been, like, cursed. So we had to take it to a priest and he had to like, bless it and undo the curse. So that was that.”

Different stories about magic and curses are prevalent across cultures, and I definitely find it interesting to hear about the different ways people acknowledge and try to free themselves of these malevolent forms of magic. Oftentimes, we hear about curses being lifted by some kind of shaman or healer, one that the community designates as someone who can control or get rid of a curse. JG and their family taking the cursed objects to a priest is an example of this.

I also find that the graveyards being a hotspot for these curses to get placed makes a lot of sense. Since death is a major element of these curses and is considered one of the worst effects a curse can allegedly have on a person, it’s no wonder that curses and cursed objects can be found throughout a cemetery.

An Italian Cure For Warts


My grandmother (and my informant) learned this folk remedy in her twenties when her mother-in-law, who was born in Italy, noticed my grandma had warts on her hand. It was something she taught me as a young child, and although I’ve never tried it, she claims she did and the warts on her hands have never come back.


In a natural setting, this piece of folklore is almost exclusively passed from one who has had warts and used the remedy, to one who currently has them and is in need of a remedy. And when being carried out, is only performed by the individual with the ailment. My informant also noted that when she practiced the remedy, she was traveling and in a place she knew she’d never go again, making it easier for her to find a spot she wouldn’t revisit.

Main Piece:

“You have to tie a string around each digit with a wart on it–and you can only use one hand. You have to wear it for a whole day, and at the end of the day you have to take a walk to a place you’ll never go again. On the walk you gotta bury it, and make sure you never-never-ever go back to that spot or the warts will come back!”


The other day, I was retelling this remedy to a friend of mine because she was curious about the project that I’ve been working on. As I told her about how the cure is conducted, she started asking things like, “why a place you’ll never go to again?” and “why do you have to bury the string?”. After taking some time to think about it, I believe this cure is a practice of sympathetic magic. In sympathetic magic, actions are taken which are representative of the change one wants to be made. In this case, each string is representative of a wart, wearing the string(s) for a day corresponds to the time one had already had the wart(s), and therefore burying the string in a place one will never visit again indicates the wart(s) disappearing and never returning.

The Parking Prayer


This short prayer was passed to my informant from her godmother’s great grandmother, who lived in long beach California, and was of western European descent. She claims that it has worked “98% of the time,” which is why she loves it.


The informant takes this prayer very seriously, hardly ever sharing it with anyone because “if everybody said it, the parking god wouldn’t listen anymore.” When this prayer is being used, it’s extremely important that it be stated before you get to your destination and see that parking is an issue. Additionally, it may only be used in extreme cases (i.e. a late flight, life or death situation, etc…).

Main piece

“Lord for us make radiant room.”


The thing that I find most interesting about this prayer is that my informant is not religious whatsoever. While I assume that she doesn’t actually believe in a parking god either, she genuinely believes in the sanctity and sacredness of the prayer. In this way, I believe–whether consciously or not–she is practicing the concept of chaos magick. Chaos magick is a practice that does not adhere to any religion or a specific set of spells or rituals. Instead, chaos magick relies on the idea that simply willing or believing something to be true can cause it to be. Thus, in saying this parking prayer, the user wills a parking spot to be emptied for their use.

Nazar Utarna

Context & Background:

The informant is an old lady from Rajasthan (north India) and my late grandfather’s family friend, and she explains the tradition of warding off bad spirits or bad luck from a person.

Performance: (via phone call)

The act of purifying or taking away the bad spirit is called “Nazar Utarna”. Translation: Remove the evil eye. What we do is, we take a piece of cotton that we use for religious ceremonies and dip it in mustard oil. We then have to take an oath of silence until we complete the whole removal process. We take the oil dipped cotton to the person who we are purifying and wave the cotton around them but not touch them. We go around the entire body in a circular motion, vertically from feet to head, 12 times, to take away all the bad spirits around the person. The cotton has now absorbed all the bad spirits and we go and burn the cotton, either in the kitchen sink or anywhere else. The longer the cotton burns, the more bad spirits you had around you, but now they are gone. Once the cotton has burned, the silence oath is over.  


I asked the lady if this was somehow a religious ceremony, and she said no really. This has elements of religiousness and hinduism, like using the cotton that is used in other religions ceremonies, but it isn’t written in any holy book and the priests don’t tell you to do this type of thing. This is purely a tradition that has been passed down for generations. This ceremony was also performed in my house, and I thought it was really weird and didn’t take it seriously at all, but now that I analyze it more, the concepts of the actions make sense. Like the absorption of the spirit and burning it makes more sense than a lot of other superstitions that I have heard like sage or garlic garlands. This can also be considered as magic, contagious magic, as the cotton is somehow associated with the bad spirits around a person and they are being burned, and homeopathic magic, because anyone can replicate this action. You just need to believe in the magic.

For another version see: 

Rgyan Admin, et al. “Easy Ways To Remove Evil Eye (Buri Nazar Nivarak Sujhav).” Rgyan, 26 Mar. 2020, rgyan.com/blogs/easy-ways-to-remove-evil-eye-buri-nazar-nivarak-sujhav/.