What is the Evil Eye?
More likely than not, you’ve seen the evil eye many times and probably have even worn jewelry symbolizing it; some of you may have even experienced it or given it yourself. But what is behind the evil eye meaning that makes this ancient symbol so prominent, even in today’s modern society?
Evil Eye Meaning and History
Despite being a multi-cultural symbol that has its roots all over the world, the evil eye meaning everywhere is pretty much the same. This speaks to the universal power and truth of the evil eye meaning: if so many cultures that had zero contact with each other all realized the same thing, it means it has deep, inner significance.
Put quite simply, the evil eye meaning is one that inflicts harm, bad luck or suffering onto the person upon whom it is cast. It is a look that tells of malcontent and bad wishes for a person, often based on hatred, jealous or malice. The receiver of the glare is susceptible to these strong wishes of suffering purely from the energy transferred through the gaze; after all, it is said the eyes are the windows to our soul.
Evil Eye Meaning: Ancient Roots Throughout Different Cultures
The evil eye meaning is believed to have first been documented in ancient Greece where it was tied in with excessive praise. This lead to excessive pride (sometimes called hubris) which would bring about their own doom, often times under the evil eye of the Gods.
In Muslim culture, even the prophet Muhammad speaks of the evil eye in Book 26 of the Shahih, saying one must bathe to reverse the powerful effects of the evil eye. Islamic cultures across the Middle East also believe in excessive praise and pride bringing the evil eye down upon mortals, so the phrase, “God has willed” something to happen is a common way to praise someone’s achievements without incurring the wrath of the evil eye meaning. Jewish culture as well has a phrase meaning “no evil eye” which is repeated during times of worry: Keyn aynhoreh!
Indian religions such as Hinduism believe that the eye is the most powerful source of energy in the body, thus lending extra weight to the powerful evil eye meaning. Admiration is seen as a form of the evil eye here, but jealousy is thought to be the driving force behind the evil eye meaning. Even though men and animals can give the evil eye, it is believed in India that the main source behind the evil eye meaning is women, thus causing them to paint their eyelids black for both protection for themselves and for and from others.
Europeans are not immune to the knowledge of the evil eye meaning as they believe malicious and envious looks bring about suffering upon the beholder. Witches were thought to be the main culprit behind the evil eye and those with rare eye colors were thought to be powerful with the evil eye meaning. Germans feared red eyed people, Irish the squinty-eyed and Italians those with a unibrow.
Protection against the Evil Eye
There are many beliefs about how one can protect themselves against the evil eye meaning such as:
- Evil eye amulets - this is the most common protection. Many will wear the amulets or hang them in their home.
- Carrying incense or a cross.
- It is also believed that to spit after either receiving or giving a compliment keeps the evil eye at bay.
Placing objects under one’s pillow, is also a way unto which one can protect themselves. Such objects include:
- Red, black and white strings
- A nail
- Indigo blue
- Silver buckles
Evil Eye Cures
For those who have already contracted the evil eye, or feel that they may have, there are ways to rid oneself of this "curse". There are many things that may work, some more ancient than others:
- Burning the fur of a bear
- A forehead massage by a gypsy
- Making the cross sign with the hands while pointing the index and pinky at the source of the evil eye
- Drawing a black dot on the forehead
- Drawing a kohl dot behind the ears
Evil Eye Then and Now
It is interesting to point out that the evil eye is still believed in cultures such as in Turkey as the video below shows. Even more though is that the evil eye in modern times could be described as when one feels like their energy is being drained merely by the presence of a certain person or persons.
In truth there are many ways in which one can interpret the evil eye. In the video I find it interesting that someone who does not believe in the evil eye compares the amulets to that of dream catchers, a Native American amulet believed to protect one from bad dreams.
It can be easy for some to quickly disregard a belief, a culture or an idea if it is not something they grew up with, were exposed to or taught. However, I always find it far more interesting to look at the similarities in human nature that tend to form our beliefs, why we form them and how have they changed to fit into who we are today.
As clearly shown in the video whether one believes in the evil eye or not they are still drawn to the amulet and will buy it.
The Best Protection Against the Evil Eye Meaning
The most common protection against the evil eye is the amulet. It reflects and deflects the power the evil eye meaning holds, allowing the wearer to go unharmed. It is often set in blue and white circles and used on houses, jewelry, vehicles and tattoos.
Other cultures like the Middle East and Africa use a similar amulet known as the “Hamsa” or “Hand of Fatima,” a palm with an eye in it. In Jewish culture, this is known as the “Hand of God” or the “Hand of Miriam.”
Do You Believe in the Evil Eye?
Julia M S Pearce from Melbourne, Australia on September 22, 2014:
Have aways been interested in the cultural beliefs behind the evil eye.
Breatheeasy3 from USA on February 19, 2013:
Very insightful hub
christine lykouretzos-avona on February 11, 2013:
I am Greek and my husband Italian both cultures Believe in the mati/maloccio. Both of us and our 6 children wear amulets for protection.
Sonia Perozzi (author) from California on December 28, 2012:
Thank you WiccanSage:) My family from Italy also believe in the evil eye (malocchio) and wear amulets against it. It has a fascinating history spanning many cultures.
Mackenzie Sage Wright on December 23, 2012:
My grandparents family from rural Italy back in like the 1800s all wore hand charms that were wards for the evil eye. Interesting article.
Sonia Perozzi (author) from California on September 28, 2012:
Thank you Wilderness. Sounds like an interesting craft project. I very much enjoy doing crafts with family and friends:)
Dan Harmon from Boise, Idaho on September 28, 2012:
Very interesting and timely as well. I found a craft project recently to make an amulet to ward off the evil eye and wanted to make one with my grand daughters. Of course they wanted to know what the evil eye was and I had no idea. Now I can tell them.
And no, there are no "evil eyes" around my neck of the woods. Or anywhere else, for that matter.