You’re on your Peru adventure, experiencing this new culture for the first time, enjoying the vibrant colors and sounds, learning about the rich cultural legacy of the Inca, and notice some odd behaviors, such as your dining companion putting the salt in front of you rather than giving it to you directly. Superstitions and magical beliefs exist the world over, and you probably subscribe to a view yourself. Do you ever knock on wood to prevent bad things from happening, or walk around a ladder rather than under it? Or perhaps you carry around a lucky rabbit’s foot, just in case. As we conclude our series on Spooky Peru, we will end the series by exploring some superstitions and magical beliefs that are particular to Peru. You can decide for yourself if they are worth incorporating into your own superstitious practices.
1- Ladybugs bring good fortune. If a ladybug lands on you, good luck is on the way. If you see a struggling beetle on its back, flip it back over. It’s believed that this gesture of kindness will be rewarded in ways you cannot foresee.
2- Speaking of insects, in some parts of Peru, Dragonflies are considered harbingers of evil: they are associated with brujería, or sorcery. Sorcerers might send a dragonfly to land on a person, steal a piece of their life force, and deliver it to the brujo for him to use in his own nefarious purposes.
3 – Eggs can diagnose illness. “Passing an egg” is a type of ritual designed to remove bad energy and illness from a person. You wave the egg over the body of the afflicted person, and it absorbs their sickness or cures them of “asusto” (a fright so strong and sudden that your soul temporarily leaves your body). Then when you crack the egg open you can diagnose the problem depending on what the inside of the egg looks like. The same is done with a guinea pig, or cuy, which is used in a similar, albeit messier, manner.
4- Pink River Dolphins: There are various myths built around pink river dolphins, or botos: one is never to look one in the eye or they’ll have bad dreams for the remainder of their days. They can also turn into men and have romantic relationships with women. It’s terrible luck to kill and eat one of these intriguing animals.
5– Oropendola birds have a musical warble and build hanging nests over bodies of water in la selva (the jungle) The nest of an Oropendola Bird can be used to drive away one’s enemies.
6- Passing the salt, ají, knives, or scissors directly– you shouldn’t pass salt directly to a person hand-to-hand, lest it causes bad blood between you and that person. The same is said for passing knives and ají (Peruvian peppers used as a condiment).
So during this spooky and superstitious time of year, feel free to pass the salt and the ají… across the table. And watch for ladybugs in need of rescue, but beware of dragonflies and pink river dolphins masquerading as handsome men during your mystical Peru journey.