My life has taken quite a few unexpected turns, but I can safely say I never saw myself waving an egg over my child so I we could capture the bad vibes.
Peruvians are big fans of “pasando el huevo”.
I’ve scoffed at the idea before. Shaman pass a fresh egg over the body of a child or sick person and then divine what the problem was from the state of the yolk and the egg white. Nearly all the older women I’ve met here have asked me if I’ve “passed the egg” over Lola, as well as some younger ones, security guards on the street, taxi drivers, cashiers, baristas… you get the idea. Even my younger, modern friends who studied overseas will suggest it.
Last night Lola was uncharacteristically upset in the evening, and Rufus took an egg, passed it over her from head to toe, cracked it and then reported back to me that she was indeed “mal ojo-ado”, literally bad-eyed, or evil-eyed.
Then as I was sitting with the much calmer Lola in bed he came through with four sticks of bergamot incense, just to really tell any bad spirits to beat it, I guess.
I have always been deeply, deeply sceptical of ghosts. I privately scoff at my mother and brothers for believing they see my nana’s ghost from time to time. It just seems like such a ridiculous notion.
Wandering the house in a sleep-deprived state a while ago I felt like a presence swept past me, as if I’d startled someone and they were rushing away. It unnerved me but I wrote it off as sleep deprivation. Then Rufus’s younger son said he’d sensed someone sitting on the couch, and felt something brush his hair while he was sleeping. So all this talk of ghosts and evil eyes suddenly has me feeling spooked.
Back to mal de ojo – I always thought this was just twaddle. Why would random strangers be looking at me or my baby on the street and silently cursing us? It turns out evil eye is a bit misleading. The idea is more that people on the street could be transmitting their bad vibes not because they are evil, but because they are envious or angry or tense. That’s a lot more believable to me; I know I get tense when the people around me are tense. Sitting next to my old boss, who radiated stress and anger all day long, made me feel sick by the end of the day. He wasn’t angry at me, either… it was just his rage and stress radiated outwards, and there I was, an unwitting sponge for all of that bad vibra.
It’s not just the Peruvians who have this concept – the Italians, the Spanish, Egyptians, Gypsies… many cultures have a similar idea, although no all of them see the egg as a solution. Peruvians also recommend tying a little red thread or bracelet around a babies wrist to ward off bad vibes, or a bracelet of huayruru, a red and black seed from the jungle.
All this is leading us nowhere, except to say that either all these maternal hormones have gone to my head, or I am suddenly becoming less sceptical of spooky stuff… and I am going to tie a red thread around her wrist. It can’t hurt can it?