Have you seen the blue-eyed amulet posted up outside of a building or at the center of a piece of jewelry? Do you know what it means? Quite a few myths and traditions surround the legendary Evil Eye. From the Greek gorgons’ paralyzing stares to the men in Irish folklore and their ability to bewitch horses with a single gaze, practically every culture has their own Evil Eye legend.
WHAT IS THE EVIL EYE?
Simply put, the Evil Eye is a curse. Countless cultures believe varying versions of the Evil Eye. Some say that when you have great success people around you become envious. That envy turns into a curse that will undo your good fortune. This popular version is well documented in the ancient Greek romance ‘Aethiopica’ in which Heliodorus of Emesa writes:
“When any one looks at what is excellent with an envious eye he fills the surrounding atmosphere with a pernicious quality, and transmits his own enveloped exhalations into whatever is nearest him.”Source
Others believe the curse to be supernatural and it reflects a vindictive gaze back on those that wish harm on other people – particularly if those people are innocents.
WHEN DID THE EVIL EYE START?
While the Evil Eye is thought by many to originate in Greece, this belief goes back to at least ancient Ugarit. We aren’t completely sure about this date as the city was obliterated around 1250 BC during the collapse of the late Bronze Age. We do know of its existence at this time because it is attested in texts.
Classical Greek antiquity references the Evil Eye by more than 100 works written by the likes of Diodorus Siculus, Callimachus, Hesiod, Pluto, Plutarch, Theocritus, Heliodorus, August Gellius, and Pliny the Elder. Some of these classical authors tried to explain how it looked and how it functioned.
One such thinker, Plutarch, framed the Evil Eye in a scientific light. In his ‘Symposiacs’ he suggests that the human eye had powers that allowed the gazer to release invisible energetic rays. In some cases, these eye rays were strong enough to kill small animals or children. He also postulated that some people carried even stronger abilities in bestowing curses. According to Plutarch, blue-eyed persons were the most adept at casting the Evil Eye glare, likely because of the genetic rarity in the Mediterranean region.
Another philosopher, Pliny the Elder, illustrated certain abilities of African enchanters to have “the power of fascination with the eyes and can even kill those on whom they fix their gaze.” Yet another example appears in poetry by Virgil. Stated in a conversation between shepherds Damoetas and Menalcas, the latter is expressing grief over his stock’s poor health: “What eye is it that has fascinated my tender lambs?”
WHAT DOES THE EVIL EYE CHARM LOOK LIKE?
Traditionally, the Evil Eye charm is an amulet or talisman shaped like an eye. Blue is the most common color, most likely because it was relatively easy to make when the colored glass version came about. Other colors are used in modern day, however, and typically correspond to specific intents.
The traditional colors used are a cobalt blue background with the sclera or white part of the eye in the middle of that, followed by a black pupil in the center. This dark blue color is associated with karmic and fate protection, calm, relaxation, and open lines of communication. The other colors aforementioned include:
– Red for courage, enthusiasm, energy, protection from fear and anxiety
– Orange for protection, happiness, motivation, creativity, playfulness
– Light blue for general protection, opening your mind, peace, solitude
– Green for happiness, balance, freedom to go after new ideas
– Brown for elemental protection, connecting with nature, convention, orderliness
WHERE DID THE EVIL EYE FIRST APPEAR?
According to an art history professor at Istanbul’s Bahçeşehir University, Dr. Nese Yildiran, “The amulets have been excavated in Tell Brak, one of the oldest cities of Mesopotamia – modern day Syria.” These older varieties were made of clay or ceramic.
From here we see the Evil Eye symbol on 6th century BC Chalcidian drinking chalices known as “eye cups” as a form of apotropaic (protective) magick. And once the production of glass beads became popular, Evil Eye beads were found in the Mediterranean region in approximately 1500 BC. The Persians, Phoenicians, Ottomans, Greeks, and Romans all used glass versions of this symbol.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE EVIL EYE
Because it’s not hard to believe in the Evil Eye – roughly 40% of the world does – many seek protection from the curse. In fact, I regularly cleanse, charge, and program my Evil Eye bracelet to protect myself! Wearing jewelry is very common, but there are other ways to gain protection.
Rituals using coconuts is another method of Evil Eye protection. This act is most commonly performed in a “pure environment”, like a temple on consecrated grounds. The coconut is used because of its resemblance to an eye and therefore represented the misfortune cast upon you by the Evil Eye. By smashing the coconut far from your residence in the temple, it keeps the ill intentions from gravitating back to you and your family. This of course only works in instances where you don’t live close to the temple in which you smash the coconut.
Magnet cleanses are another popular form of apotropaic acts against the Evil Eye. The cleanse aids in drawing the bad luck out by passing a magnet over the body from the head to the toes. Afterward, exposing the magnet to high temperatures in order to demagnetize and disable it finishes the ritual.
Another way to protect yourself from the Evil Eye is by using a mirror talisman. The mirror’s reflection is believed to bounce the malicious energies back to the gazer. Some patrons of this particular protective measure arrange mirrors in doorways and other common rooms in order to deflect the Evil Eye.
There you have it. It’s important to know not only how to protect yourself from malevolent forces, but where they come from to really understand their nature.
What about you? Do you wear jewelry to protect yourself from the Evil Eye? Or do you have one displayed outside of your house? Will you look into putting protection in place? Let me know in the comments!