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El Mal de Ojo


I always love hearing mi abuela talk about folklore that oftentimes seem weird or mystical to me. El mal de ojo; The Evil Eye, is one of those.

El mal de ojo is a hex that is well known throughout Latin America.  It is also common in the Mediterranean, East and West Africa, and in various religions. How you actually get the evil eye varies from country and culture, but there is one common denominator: envy. Someone seeing you walking down the street thinking that you look good or wear nice clothes might be the one behind the ojeado. People giving the evil eye aren’t always aware they are doing so, and you might not even know the person giving it to you.


In some cultures it is believed that only small infants can get ojeado, or that there are some persons who are more susceptible to it than others. Symptoms can include headache, depression and trouble sleeping. On my last trip to Argentina a tía told me she thought I had been ojeada because I couldn’t stop yawning even though I wasn’t tired. She “cured” me by saying a prayer.

There are more ways to cortar (destroy) el mal de ojo. In some countries/cultures it requires a curandera: a wise woman, or a sort of healer. She can pass an egg over the affected person’s body to absorb the hex, or pretend to sew shut an eye in the air above the victim’s head, thus “breaking the power” casted from the eye. If you want to be on the safe side,  you can try wearing a red ribbon around your arm or use amulets such as evil eye beads, also called “lucky eyes.”

Do you know of any other ways to get rid of el mal de ojo?

A to Z World Superstitions & Folklore by Sibylla Putzi

by Jennifer Turano


To learn more about Jennifer Turano, go to


About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. Cesar Vargas says:

    Hahaha as a baby, I wore one of those beads. La gente.LOL

  2. When I first visited Turkey with my husband(who is Turkish), I kept seeing the evil eyes all over the place. When I found out what they were, I was amazed with the power it had on the people. Throughout the Meditterrenaen, it is a very important part of daily life.
    Now..10 years later.. I am running an evil eye business @ where we make/sell evil eye jewelry and other amulets. I even started a blog at which was the biggest eye opener.

    Through my research of the concept and some of the comments on the blog or emails I get on my site, the power the belief has on people is almost scary!!. I have heard several different rituals like simple ones with holy water to extreme-almost witchcraft- rituals that is very interesting to see.

  3. What a great post! I love hearing about all the ‘cures’.
    I’m a big fan of magical realism…books, movies, paintings. It reminds of that wonderful book ‘Like Water For Chocolate’.

  4. k. Cedano says:

    “Como Agua Para Chocolate” is an EXCELLENT book ;)

  5. we always wore coral braclets to ward of ojo

  6. loved the book, maybe a re-read is in order

  7. Based on personal experience, a positive outlook towards others and yourself will always win the day… people in general give good vibes when you give it to them.

    However, it wouldn’t hurt to have a charm to ward off bad vibes and the Evil Eye. :)

    Evil Eye Jewelry by

  8. Remarkable! Its really amazing paragraph, I have got much clear
    idea concerning from this piece of writing.


  1. […] one we all hear about is how to avoid el mal de ojo, or the evil eye. Some women tie a red ribbon over their bellies to avoid it. Others wear a safety […]

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