The Evil Eye

 

The concept of the Evil Eye is a millennium old and geographically widespread folk lore, and one of the most widespread and behaviourally influential beliefs in the ancient world.

Over the centuries, the Evil Eye has played a significant role in conceptualizing evil, identifying sources of hostility, explaining causes of illness and disaster, interpreting emotions and moral dispositions, regulating social relations, and reinforcing norms of moral conduct. The curse is to be dreaded most when its object is in an exceptionally flourishing condition: a very healthy- and good-looking child, a blooming garden, or a new house, are all subject to its influence.

Thought to be animated by some malevolent disposition such as envy, miserliness, greed, or malice, an Evil Eye is believed to convey, project, and cast forth negative energy to inflict misfortune or injury.

References to the Evil Eye occur in Old and New Testaments of the Bible and in fact appear in cuneiform texts of the Sumerians as early as 3000 BCE.

From its origin in the ancient Near East and Circum-Mediterranean area, Evil Eye belief spread eastward to India, European Russia, and Asia and westward to Spain, Portugal, and Britain, northward to continental Europe and southward into North Africa. Eventually it travelled the seas from Old World to New World. European colonists brought the belief to North, Central, and South America. Islam carried it to Indonesia and the East. In Macedonia, the superstition in force and extent is second to none.

Casting of the Evil Eye in not always an act of wilful wickedness. An innocent and well-meant expression of admiration can bring about the undesired effect. For this reason, people are anxious to avoid such expressions, or, when uttered, to counteract them.

One of the oldest and most prevalent methods of avoiding the effects of excessive admiration is that of spitting at the object thrice, and accompanying the action with certain words in order to save the other from the consequences of admiration and to shun the danger. Another measure taken to counteract the Evil Eye is carrying an eye amulet, called “сино око“ (blue eye)  as it is believed to be both a good luck and protective symbol. It is said that the one who wears it is protected from evil spirits. Mothers also place it near the baby’s crib for protection and to ward off evil.