Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Evil Eye (updated)

Many cultures all over the world share a common belief in a type of curse or hex that is transmitted (usually) unwittingly through a glare or  glance in which the caster is filled with envy, praise, or covetousness. It can also be transmitted, intentionally or unintentionally, by people with green or blue eyes — which is why protective charms to ward against this curse are so often blue, green, or turquoise.

The evil eye is also called the invidious eye, the envious eye, ayin ha'ra (Hebrew), malocchio (Italian), mal ojo (Spanish), jettatore (Sicilian), the stink eye (Hawaiian), nazar (Turkish), and bla band (Farsi).

While the eye itself is a receptive sensory organ, the power of the evil eye is insidious in its ability to send curses outward in a projective manner often unbeknownst to the own doing the cursing. In a traditional context, the person who sends the curse does not necessarily intend the afflicted target any harm. They simply admire and covet what they don’t already have. For this reason, mothers in cultures where a belief in the evil eye is prevalent might respond, “Oh, but he’s got dirt on him,” when told their baby is beautiful. Without saying something seemingly “mean,” the child might attract the evil eye and become sick — or even die!

Perils related to the evil eye include wasting, illness, blight, injury, plain bad luck, and possibly death.
Charms against the evil eye are sometimes also simply called “the evil eye” and take the shape of a blue, green, or turquoise circle banded in white to represent the eye. Various hand gestures and horns (with their phallic connotations) are also reputed to ward against the evil eye.  Eyes, hands, and horns have all been fashioned into jewelry, charms, and art that can be displayed on bodies, in homes, and in vehicles to offer the most possible protection against the threat of this malevolent glare.

Meeting at the Crossroads (updated)

Liminal places are those locales that can be described as neither here nor there, and since time immemorial, they have been considered the very best places to meet the Witchfather (or Witchmother) and perform spells.  Liminal spaces might be include the mouth of a cave (neither in the belly of the earth, nor upon the land’s breast), at the seashore (neither in the ocean, nor upon dry land), at a doorway (neither inside the house, nor yet outside its bounds). But the liminal place that has fired the imagination and bred some of the most enduring folklore is that of the crossroads — the place where two or more roads come together and the traveler can stand for a moment in true limbo, on their way to anywhere.

It is in this place of balance, of limitless possibility, of undiscovered potential that magic and initiation are possible. The Seeker of the Mysteries has access to all that Is, Was, and Will Be.

Cultures from all over the globe have expressed this concept in a myriad of ways. Some embrace it, and some fear it. The Keeper of these Mysteries is most often viewed as a devil, demon, whore, or hag, but sometimes they are known as the Master, Light Bearer, Psychopomp, Key Holder. (Sometimes they are both loved and feared, for the Mysteries that illuminate and set the soul aflame can also consume one with madness if not grounded and tempered.) Hekate and Hermes both held this role in ancient Greece.  In Africa (and African-diaspora) religions we see Legba/Elegua (and several others) as well as Pomba Gira.  Odin was honored at crossroads in parts of Denmark and elsewhere in the Norse world.

Folklore holds that rulers, dancers, musicians, artists, and merchants — just to name a few — have all made deals with the Devil at the crossroads to increase their talents, fame, power, and fortune. Perhaps the truer tale is that these intrepid (or desperate) seekers quested for mastery of their natural gifts. They may have come away changed by their initiation, startled by the Keeper they encountered there, but their work was fueled by Cunning Fire  after they had gone down to those crossroads.

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