The idea of the “Evil Eye,” which is the translation of the Spanish Mal de Ojo or Mal Ojo, is a belief (or superstition, if you like) that a curse, negative influence, illness, injury, bad luck, or even death can be brought about by someone who (either willingly or unwillingly) too frequently or malevolently stares or glares at another person or an object. Usually, the person that receives the evil eye is not aware of the stare.
The idea of “Casting the Evil Eye” is certainly not only a belief in Latin America, but one that’s widespread around the world for already millennia. By the way, the term Evil Eye has several synonyms, depending on the country or culture, such as Bad Eye, Angry Eye, the Eye of Envy, Fat Eye, Hot Eye, or Evil Look.
In many cultures, people apply protective measures (such as gestures, rituals, amulets, special bracelets, and talismans) against the Evil Eye, notably for babies and little children; infants and children are thought to be particularly vulnerable for the Evil Eye. Nevertheless, the Evil Eye can also affect adolescents and adults.
Another type of prevention against the Evil Eye is to allow admirers (or jealous persons) to touch the baby or child, or touch the object (for example, clothing, a house, or a car) that induces envy. It’s believed that touching the envied object or person will prevent or dispel a possible Evil Eye curse.
People affected by Mal de Ojo can experience various health issues, of which fever, bodily pains, loss of appetite, intestinal discomforts, diarrhea, restlessness, excessive crying, overall weakness, anxiety, bad sleep, nausea, and/or vomiting, are the most important symptoms.
In Curanderismo, the treatment of Mal de Ojo depends on the region and the Curandero. In some cases, it’s thought to be enough when the envying or admiring person touches the person or object of envy.
A widespread cure, however, is to pass a raw chicken egg over the child (or person) to absorb the negative energies. In some way, the evil energy is then transferred to the egg. The treatment is typically accompanied by prayers.
The raw egg also serves as diagnosis: after passing the egg over the body of the sick person, the Curandero breaks the egg and looks at the content. Depending of the content, the Curandero can see if the person had indeed Mal de Ojo and/or if the Mal de Ojo is removed.
Additionally, the Curandero (or Curandera) may perform a Limpieza with a mixture of herbs that are burned, ingested, and/or are used to be bathed in. Depending on the healer, supplementary treatments may be included, such as massage, prayers, and ceremonial rites, among others.