The Evil Eye

The Evil Eye Hlafdige Arastorm © 2016 Virginia Fair Richards-Taylor

History : “envy is an evil eye” it is negative love

Pliny mentions Roman laws against incantation, excantation (counter-charm) and fascination.

Power comes from eye, intentionally or unintentionally. One can fascinate oneself ie. Narcissus

Words for the Evil Eye: “fascination” was the most common term as well as   “enchant” “overlook” “bewitch” malocchio “eye biting”

latin “invidere” “to look to closely at” from envy invidia

Hebrew: ayin ha’ra Latin: Malaficia (any evil act)

Most Frequent Victims: Animals, fruit trees, dairy animals, nursing mothers, children, health in general

Animals that are prone to being overlooked: horses, camels, livestock protect with a crescent

Most likely to have Evil Eye: Women, monks, people with two pupils, squint

Animals likely to promote fascination: Sows, hares (weasles- although witches don’t turn into them)

Background: Snakes charm their prey with their eyes

Egyptians- gods came from Ptah’s eyes, people from his mouth

It is associated with dehydration (drying up – esp. semen) milk or through diarrhea

Diagnosis- Eastern Europe Drop coals in water- if they float child has been overlooked

Ukraine melted wax in holy water- if spatters or sticks to side of bowl

Turning the evil eye: When you see envy or admiration Quickly turn the bad luck by saying “by the grace of god” “fain evil, I should say”, “Præfiscini dixerim” “without offense say”) Masha’Allah (god’s will), “kein ayin hara” (“no evil eye”) jewish , “Si mal occhio non ci fosse” (Italian) your bad eye was not there. If you see someone with the evik eye approach call out: jettatore jettatura means “spurt” Drink holy water into which the fascinator has spit

Spit 3 times, close hands over opposite thumbs, contradict praise “He’s so dirty right now”

Point two fingers at Jactatore fare la corna or mano fico fig hand (thumb between 1st & 2nd fingers)

Keep women and children out of crowds, wear eye repellent talisman or apotropaic charm, carry Rue

Highlands- if one admires your cattle, offering milk from the cow will turn the spell

Drink horn shavings Wearing the horn often red coral (coral twigs better for girls)

Scatter salt around door, Lemon pierced with 8 nails above doorway

Amulets Talismans Gods eyes in blue glass (yarn?) Having blue eyes blue Egyptian faience “donkey” beads” agate eyes, cats eye, shells, Hand of Fatima /Miriam Jewish- also fish, Horse shoe (combinations of eye, hand, crescent), Mirrors (India), image of Cricket, Red cords around wrist

Amulets: something tied on/suspended protective

Talismans: protection or attracting luck sigils inscribed metal/stone apotropaic charm.

Philacteries- something written in a case- bible, men wore on arm and forehead

Romans- multi gods- had amulets with multi symbols around an eye swan, scorpion, deer, dog, crocodile, turtle,


DiStasi, Lawrence, Mal Occhio: The Underside of Vision, North Point Press, 1983

Elworthy, Frederick Thomas, The Evil Eye: The Classic Account of an Ancient Superstition, Random House, 1986