Tag Archives: mal de ojo evil eye

Egg Healing

--Informant Info--
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language:
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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)

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Salvadorian
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: California, USA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/27/13
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

“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.