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.