Never bat your lashes at an evil eye

Never bat your lashes at an evil eye

I’ve been sitting here for the past week dealing with issues we drug back with us from our trip last year. Is it a stomach bug? Is it a parasite? Did someone give us the evil eye? Is this too much information to write about?

Before anyone jumps to conclusions, we’ve seen doctors, taken tests, and been given the requisite doses of antibiotics — nothing creepy, crawly is wriggling around in our guts. But every several weeks it makes its presence known and I start thinking.

Last Saturday I’d had enough. I lit a smudge stick and walked around the house, letting the smoke waft over every surface. I said some prayers as I let the intense odor of the sage drift into my pores. Then I laughed to myself.

When our eldest, Belle, was four years old, we visited my in-laws in Mexico. One morning she woke up and had an upset stomach and immediately my mother-in-law sprang into action. There is no suegra (mother-in-law) in Mexico worth her salt that doesn’t jump when there is a perceived need. But at that time, her and I didn’t see eye to eye on the remedy.

“Someone gave her the evil eye,” said my suegra. “She needs a limpa (cleanse).”

“You are not going to cleanse her,” I said. “It’s probably that hot dog she ate last night before bed.”

George, somewhere in the middle of believing, yet discarding many learned creencias (beliefs) backed me up, telling his mom that our daughter in fact did not need to be cleansed. I should have known that it would not be the end of the situation.

The entire family decided to take a morning walk around the neighborhood after breakfast. Belle was feeling much better, so we put on our sneakers and headed outside. We weren’t walking more than 10 minutes when I saw my suegra snap a small branch off a tree. I don’t know the name of the tree, just that it has a very strong smell. She began rubbing it up and down Belle’s legs and arms and down her chest, praying as she went.

Here is where I stop and explain that she only wanted to help, but I was furious.

“Someone gave her the evil eye,” repeated my suegra.

Today I admit that a lot of the rigid belief systems I once held lay in tatters somewhere on Mexican soil. I left my preconceived notions of culture and best practices on the Avenida de los Muertos at the pyramids of Teotihuacan. It wasn’t just that I had been awash in the thought that only my religion and practices were best, but that anything else anyone did to help was bad.

I think about the healers that lived at the edges of town, the ones who knew the herbs and leaves that would help a cough, calm a fever, or stave off negative energy. The ones who were later called witches and devils and burned at the stake. Why did we fear them? Passed down belief systems lead to assumed superiority, believing anything we can’t understand to be bad.

Either that or I’ve been watching too much Outlander lately. Claire, a nurse during WWII, is hurtled back 200 years in time where her knowledge, used to heal people, is deemed witchcraft and they try to burn her at the stake. Imagine being so afraid we can’t progress.

But I digress. When we got back home, I became calmer, letting my suegra do a limpia on Belle, who went out to play with her cousins and doesn’t remember what happened at all. My intolerance of anything out of my own norms needed to be adjusted.

Many of us find relief in acupuncture, taking part in yoga classes, or getting “adjustments” by folks that didn’t go to school to learn it. It wasn’t even 40 years ago that the practice of yoga was frowned upon by many conservative churches, mine included.

And I laugh, because I found myself seeking answers to what has been plaguing us for the better part of a year. If my mother-in-law was here, she’d tell me that someone gave us the evil eye. She’d break an egg in a glass and see if it floats, then she’d brew up some manzanilla tea (chamomile) and figure out what to do next.

She always knows the remedy, it’s the root cause we need to figure out. And that is a whole other story.

Melissa Herrera is a columnist, published author and drinker of too many coffees based in Holmes County. You can find her book, “TOÑO LIVES,” at or buy one from her in person (because all authors have boxes of their own novel). For inquiries or to purchase, email her at

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