A View Around the World – Mexico
Confessions

A View Around the World – Mexico

By Julie Fletcher

Around the world, different cultures have a variety of myths about eyes. Can we truly see into the soul? Does evil peer from behind the eyes of seemingly innocent humans? Every culture has their own answers to these questions, but one belief seems to exist in nearly every part of the world… the evil eye.

Now, generally, if you stare at someone for too long, you may be accused of giving them the evil eye. And really, on some days, if my makeup is not just right, or if I haven't had my coffee, the accusation is probably pretty accurate. But, while dirty looks are generally just considered impolite, they are actually feared as a type of curse in some cultures.

In Mexico, for instance, many people believe that some are born with what is referred to as "strong sight." Just by staring intently, it is believed that these people can bestow a curse on another person, giving them bad luck and health problems, with the occasional case of halitosis thrown in for good measure. This cursed look is known as mal de ojo, or sometimes simply as ojo. Yikes. Reminds me a bit of Cujo. Visions of a giant, slobbering eye coming to get me. Maybe I need to cut back on the B-movies.

In reality, the term "evil eye" is a bit of a misnomer, as it implies that the person casting the glance is wicked in some way. Usually, it's the effect of the eye that's evil, not the person who gave it. Although occasionally a victim is targeted with the evil eye out of revenge, most of the time the curse is passed on accidentally. A person with "strong sight" may simply have held their gaze on a subject, in envy or admiration, for a little too long, and the curse is passed along in the process.

Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to diagnose a case of mal de ojo. Symptoms cover a wide range, including dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, hair loss, itchy skin, clumsiness, poor eyesight and death. Ideally, of course, the victim catches on before that whole "death" part kicks in. And thankfully, there are a variety of cures and preventative measures to ward off the curse.

For instance, one of the most popular methods of deterring the onset of illness from mal de ojo is for loved ones to touch their children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren frequently. Hugging, kissing and holding hands will all successfully prevent mal de ojo.

Or, if you're ever in that area, keep a look out for some very lovely native art that is devoted to fending off the evil eye. For instance, a large brown seed resembling an eye is supposed to be excellent at warding off the ojo. Called ojo de venado ("deer's eye") and often outfitted with a colorful tassel and a picture of a saint, the seed can be worn like a talisman or hung over a bed as protection.

If a person still picks up a bad case of the ojo, not to worry! A quick trip to the store for some fresh eggs will cure it in a snap. One popular story about mal de ojo tells of a young mother who prevents an old woman from touching her baby at the local market. Cursed with the ojo as a result, the baby develops a fever. A local wise woman comes to the mother's aid, passing fresh eggs over the baby's body. She cracks one egg on the doorstep and tells the mother to do the same thing with another egg the next morning. When she does, the egg is boiled solid, supposedly from the anger of the evil spirit the wise woman had trapped inside. I reckon that if someone came along and trapped me inside of an egg, I'd be a tad irate, too.

Of course, we can't really be sure if any of this is true, whether we can really get sick just from someone looking at us. Personally, though, I think the next time I plan a trip to Mexico, I'm going to order the egg salad. Not because I am superstitious, mind you. Just because.

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OPTI® eSTORIES is a place for eyes, of course - a forum for sharing tips and stories, for offering new vision and perspective, for discussing lifestyle and image, all through the window of our eyes. More than that, though, OPTI® is about celebrating the beauty within all of us, and the way our eyes can be just as unique as we are. Fun and feisty, elegant and soulful. It's all here. It's all OPTI®.

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