Tag Archives: sage

Peruvian Folk Speech- Salar Tu/La Casa

Main Content:

M: Me, I: Informant

I: The saying was “Salar tu casa,” like salt your house, but in Spanish it means that someone is, put something like a bad omen on your home

M: Oh ok

I: Kind of like the thing like that 

M: okay that’s good , like sal-ar

I: Salar la casa

M: and that’s used to say what?

I: It’s like, the house is cursed, or bad omen on the house.

M: Oh okay

I: and then that can also be like lets say um if someone who doesn’t have good will towards you or harbors bad feeling toward you and you let them into your home, then when they leave, they leave that that bad behind

M: Ohh

I: So you are supposed to purify you home like with sage or with holy water, if you have holy water blessed by the priest and you have it at home. You are supposed to pray and clean your home.

Original Script: Salar la casa

Phonetic script: sa.ˈlaɾ  la ‘ka.sa (Spanish is a phonetic language)

Transliteration: To salt the house

Translation: Someone put a bad omen/luck on your home/ your house is cursed/ your house is jinxed.

Context: This folk speech was used and taught to my informant by her Peruvian mother during her childhood when someone with ill will tainted the house with their ‘badness.’

Analysis: In order to understand this folk speech to its fullest is to understand what ‘Salar’ means. Literally speaking, ’Salar’ means ‘to salt.’ However, to salt in English has a much more limited scope than the meaning in Spanish. In Spanish, on top of the English meanings, it can also mean “to spoil,” “to bring bad luck,” “to jinx,” and even “to ruin.” Thus, the proverb is referring to these forms of ‘to salt’ in Spanish. In trying to understand a proverb, it is important to fully translate the words to express their true meaning. To cleanse the house of the bad luck and badness, holy water is used or sage is burned. This makes sense given how Peru is predominantly Roman Catholic but also believes in shamans and some of their practices.

Icky Tea

The informant talked about a folk remedy she learned from her mother and passed on to her children.
“You make it at the first sign of cold symptoms: scratchy throat, watery eyes, aches.
It is equal parts bay leaf, sage, and cinnamon. The cinnamon at the bottom gets all slimy like snot.
I had drank all the water at every rest stop from utah to minnesota and I had got some sort of water sick or something. Originally it had cayenne pepper and lemon in it too. That was practically un-drinkable. Now we separate it out into cayenne and lemon then the tea.
My grandma said if I didn’t get better in 12 hours, they’d take me to the hospital because I was like, 12 and really sick. But we upped the dose and I she got better really quick.
Now we take the cayenne as a pill,  drink lemon-honey tea and do the rest of the icky tea in a cup.”

No one quite knows what about this works but, I tried it last time I was sick and it worked like a charm.

Esfand and Sage Burning: Persian Cleansing

Esfand and sage burning practices in Persian culture cleanse houses, bodies, and objects that may be occupied by evil spirits, spirits of the dead, or may be afflicted by the evil eye.

Described verbatim by informant:

“Esfand is basically these dried herbs that, every Persian household has them. And say um a lot of bad things have been happening like your car broke down, you got a bad grade, your boyfriend broke up with you, someone died, you know, so people feel like it’s obviously like it’s evil spirits literally are around your house and around your car and they’re around you so when you burn the esfand you walk around and its smells horrible and you walk around and you just you do it over everyone’s head you do it over even like around your pets head you do it around your car um everything you um walk through the room cuz you’re killing things by burning the esfand cuz it smells so bad and that like gives it’s like a cleansing to get rid of the bad spirits that are causing the bad things. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be evil spirits it can just be like people evil eyeing you and wanting bad things to happen to you. Negative Vibes.

Sage is kind of a similar process it’s just to clean whatever was in the house previously to be gone, it’s a fresh start, cuz you don’t know what happened someone could’ve died in that house, you know? Crazy things. So if you want a fresh start in a new home you can do that.”

Esfand to my knowledge is unique to Persian culture and this cleansing ritual. Ritual burning of herbs is common to many cultures, especially burning with sage. The idea of smoking out spaces and people for purification is something I know to be relevant to a lot of Native American tribes, Mesoamerican cultures, Aboriginal tribes, and countless others around the world. Though smoke is considered polluting and dangerous to many people, burning and beginning anew is a process found in nature, ie wildfires. This has since been observed by humans and emulated in swidden or slash-and-burn agriculture across the globe. Perhaps there is some root to the notion of burning and cleansing there, though that connection seems unlikely in the context of the Middle East, unless the practice of burning herbs was learned or brought in by some other influence (perhaps by trade ie along the Silk Road). This theory is purely speculative, though, as ritual burning could have begun in the Middle East or spontaneously come about for all I know.

I later got an email from my informant saying she wasn’t sure if she explained esfand and it’s relation to the evil eye well enough so she sent me a link to a website that she felt explained it well:

Esfand & The Evil Eye