Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Evil Eye

The evil eye is the name for a curse transmitted, usually without intention, by someone who is envious, jealous, or covetous. It is also called the invidious eye and the envious eye. In Hebrew it is ayin ha'ra. In mainland Italian it is malocchio and in Spanish mal de ojo. In Sicily it is jettatore, in Hawaii it is the stink eye, in Turkey, the nazar, and in Farsi it is bla band.

The evil eye belief is that a person  can harm you, your children, your livestock, or your fruit trees, by looking at them with envy and praising them.  An understanding of the term evil eye is gained if you know that the old Scottish word for it is overlooking, which implies merely that the gaze has remained too long upon the coveted object, person, or animal. In other words, the effect of the evil eye is misfortunate, but the person who harbors jealousy and gives the evil eye is not necessarily an evil person.

The evil caused by the gaze is specifically connected to symptoms of drying, desiccation, withering, and dehydration, that its cure is related to moisture, and that the immunity from the evil eye that fish have in some cultures is related to the fact that they are always wet.  This is also why spitting is said to be effective against the evil eye.

Protective Talismans

Disks or balls, consisting of concentric blue and white circles representing an evil eye are common talismans in the Middle East, found on the prows of Mediterranean boats and elsewhere.  A blue eye can also be found on some forms of the hamsa hand, a hand-shaped talisman against the evil eye found in the Middle East. The word hamsa means five, referring to the fingers of the hand. In Jewish culture, the hamsa is called the Hand of Miriam. In some Muslim cultures it is the Hand of Fatima.

The cornicello, (little horn) is a long, gently twisted horn-shaped amulet. Cornicelli are usually carved out of red coral or made from gold or silver.  A gesture, the mano cornuta, or sign of the horns, is also sometimes made to ward off the evil eye.  It involves projecting outward the little finger and the index finger while the rest of the hand is drawn into a fist.

One traditional cure in rural Mexico involves a folk healer sweeping a raw chicken egg over the body of a victim to absorb the power of the person with the evil eye. The egg is later broken into a glass with water and placed under the bed of the patient near the head. Sometimes it is checked immediately because the egg appears as if it has been cooked. When this happens it means that the patient did have the evil eye.

Other popular amulets and talismans against the evil eye include red thread or ribbon, small mirrors, gorgon faces, rowan crosses, and eye-like agates.

1 comment:

  1. I m italian and a friend of mine can remove the Malocchio (evil eye). It is a traditional ritual passed mother to daughter that involve a dish of water and olive oil.

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