Tag Archives: mal de ojo evil eye

Giving babies ”Ojo.”

A is a 59-year-old Hispanic American female originally from La Junta, a small town in Southeastern Colorado. A currently works as a background detective in Phoenix Arizona.

A informed me of this folklore over a dinner discussion. We were on the topic of family superstitions, and I asked A if she had any superstitions that she remembered her family believing in.

A: I was thinking about this a few days ago. I remember Nana and my aunts talking about giving a baby “ojo” by looking at them and falling over how cute they are it makes them sick if you do it too much. And then I read about it and I laughed because this is exactly what I remember hearing them talking about it, when I was little. I also remember in order for them to come back from the baby getting that, when you’re born they put a little bracelet on the babies made out of coral. I will call Nana to make sure but that’s what I remember. To help babies ward off the evil eye or “ojo” the babies would wear a little string with a piece of coral red coral. And then the mothers would put an egg in a cup of water near the bed to help them heal from the evil if they got it laughs.

Reflection: This folklore seems to be associated with the idea that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. It brings greater context into my own family, as I remember my grandmother scolding my cousins for fawning over a baby, and I never knew quite why. I find it interesting that specifically coral and eggs in water act as deterrent. Perhaps they both have an absorbent property that draws evil away when placed in the immediate proximity of a baby.

Bracelet Against Evil Eye

Informant: My informant is a current sophomore at the University of Southern California. Her parents are from Jalisco, Mexico. However, she grew up in Denver, Colorado.

Context: The following is a conversation that my informant and I had over zoom. During the zoom we were discussing some of the lore that we share. The following is an excerpt of our conversation and my informant explanation of her bracelet charm against evil eye.

Text: “I wear this bracelet as a protection amulet for myself. The reason that I wear it is that it’s a custom that has been present for many years now. I don’t think these customs come from Catholicism, even though my parents are religious, but I think it has to do a lot with indigenous roots. The evil eye is negative energy such as bad vibes, and jealousy and to keep that away we wear a bracelet with an eye on it. [The informant takes her bracelet off and hands it over to me]. Usually, these are red, but mine on here is a colorful number of beads and if you look at the middle it has like a hand with an eyeball in the center it has a little like eyeball, and it’s not super detailed or anything, but it’s just a circle, and the like outer part is red and then the inner part is completely white with like a singular black dot. And basically, I wear this all the time, because at some point I really did just start believing that it was a positive energy that protects you from other people’s bad glares. Even my little cousins wear this. My mom and dad always told us to wear these-slash- they put them on us as babies to protect us from evil.” 

Analysis: Hearing of the evil eye from another person who practices it was very interesting indeed. I for one also wear these kinds of bracelets because as a small child my mom taught me that these bracelets work as small amulets to keep me safe. Seeing how my informant and I learned these customs, superstitions, and myths from our family show how much one relies on our culture rather and on professionals or science to believe whether something is necessarily real. Some might argue that this is the placebo effect, our minds are playing games to make us believe that this is truly a protection. However, whether it is placebo effect or not, these charms have demonstrated to play a big role in developing our beliefs in practices towards our future generation: our children.

One of the bracelet charms against evil eye that informant showed during zoom share.

Egg Healing


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.


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.


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

The “mal de ojo” (evil eye)

“So my mom has held this belief for a long time that there are like some people in the world whose stare or glance is more powerful than others or it’s supposed to be scary, and well because their stare is so powerful, it has an effect on new born babies. And if these new born babies looked upon someone with such a stare they would like tend to get sick or maybe even die because they are too young to withstand the stare, I know it’s sad. So when I was a new born my parents were, you know, walking around with me being proud parents and whatever when we came home that night I began to get sick for the next few days and I threw up and wouldn’t sleep and cried and was just like in pain. So my parents immediately took me to the hospital but they could not find anything wrong with me and they couldn’t explain why I was as sick. And so finally one of my mom’s friends had a look at me and said ‘la niña tiene el mal del ojo’ which pretty much meant someone who had the evil eye looked at me and I got sick. Uhm and well there are a few ways to cure that: the first is to let the person with the evil eye carry the baby but my mom didn’t know where to find that person, because she didn’t even know when it happened! so instead she had to do something else she got an egg and passed it over my head three times while saying three our fathers at the end of the last our father the yolk broke inside and after that I got almost instantaneously better. So then this story was passed down by her mom because the same thing happened to my aunt.”

Every culture has to have some scary stories or superstitions about the supernatural and I believe it is just a way to unite those cultures because they are all found under the same belief. The way that fear is inflicted it helps people have stories to tell to their children in generations to come.  Even though this started a long time ago as a superstition it is quite strange that it is still so common nowadays for people to fear this supernatural thing that can actually harm people physically.