Belief in the Evil Eye has existed for thousands of years. LES HEWITT tells us how to protect ourselves from this dreadful curse
Is it really possible to curse somebody merely by looking at them?
For somewhere in the region of 5000 years, there have been accounts, anecdotes, and reports of a malevolent glare from one person to another, whether deliberate or accidental, that has caused the ‘victim’ harm in some way.
Historians that have delved into this fantastical study have traced instances dating back to around the 6th century B.C. with early drinking vessels, known as Eye-Cups, having depictions of this curious image.
It was generally believed that this was some sort of protective magick against the effects of this apparent supernatural ability. Using that assumption as a basis, the effect likely predates that even more. Who knows how long a defence against this intrusion took to be discovered?
Many cultures worldwide have recorded instances of this down the millennia. Everywhere from the Mediterranean to Japan and back again affirm that misfortune has befallen certain peoples at certain times for no real reason whatsoever. This may or may not even result in something along the lines of physical injury.
The more spiritual or metaphysical people lean heavily on some sinister gaze were solely motivated to inflict harm on the chosen target(s) by some otherworldly force that bore pure ill-will on others. These targets tended to be innocent.
Prevention was considered to be the best, and maybe only, cure from this nefarious practice. This protective image was applied to ceramics and clay en masse. This practice was especially popular in regions such as Greece, Rome, and Persia.
Even today, markets and bazaars sell trinkets and décor with this charm emblazoned on them. With a reported 40% of the global population being firm believers in this concept, it can be little wonder that turnover of these trinkets and talismans is high.
Belief in the Evil Eye
Belief in the Evil Eye has endured since antiquity and shows no real signs of slowing down. There are certain steps anyone can take in order to protect themselves or others from the impact of this ancient effect.
The obvious first step is to determine whether or not a cure would be required. There would be no symptoms of a physical nature. Instead, this curse or affliction would be more attuned to the impact of negative energy. This could lead to a downturn in personal issues in a professional, personal, or relationship with no real cause.
One method that is popular in Eastern Europe is to fill a pan with water and deposit a piece of charcoal within it. If the charcoal sinks, then there is no curse to answer. However, if it floats, then the curse may have taken root. If there is no charcoal available, a used match is an ideal substitute.
Other regions try different methods. One involves the use of candle wax. Apply a drop of hot wax into holy water and note the reaction. If the wax splatters or splashes, then the result is likely to be a positive confirmation. However, if the wax sticks to the side of the vessel, then there is no curse active.
One of the earliest divination methods was to deposit oil into water. If the oil reshapes into the form of an eye, then that person has been cursed. The same is true if the oil sinks. If the result of this test is a positive one, then special prayers are recited until the test finally results in the all-clear.
If there is a conclusive outcome to the testing, then there are several methods to cure the patient. Perhaps the easiest is the touch method.
The person who started the curse must do this. This should prove no problem if the curse was unintentional. However, determining who or when the curse was bestowed may prove to be a challenge. The removal touch can be done anywhere. Often, it is applied to the hands or forehead.
Latin countries tend to use an egg instead. The egg will be ceremoniously passed over the body of the victim while prayers are said. The egg is then placed in a bowl and left overnight beneath a pillow. If, by morning, the white of the egg is foggy, then the curse is present. This method also cures the condition simultaneously.
Another train of thought is that hand movements are another way to ward off the effects of the Evil Eye. The two main gestures using this method are the horned fist (index and pinkie extended when making a fist) and the fig hand (thumb poking between middle and index fingers).
There is mention of another method of cure: to station a six-sided mirror either at a window or in the hallway close to the front door. The Chinese tend to employ this method. Any negative energy is simply reflected back outside.
Personal jewellery is available to help keep the evil eye at bay. Necklesses and rings are widespread portable methods to ward off these effects. Meghan Markle is among the celebrities who swear by them.
Even if the effects of the evil eye can be felt at anytime by anyone anywhere, much of the UK itself tends to turn a blind eye to the more extreme aspects of the curse. It could be argued that the train of thought behind this is the effects of the talismans and protective trinkets.
The Evil Eye in Scotland
Scotland is more aware of any threat that may be posed by this unusual pandemic. While widespread belief in ritual magic, witchcraft, and folklore may have faded over time or gone underground, one example has endured and stood the test of time.
Droch-shuil is the Scots Gaelic term for what is generally believed to be the Evil Eye concept from a bygone age. It is arguably the root cause of beliefs such as these that were as prevalent back then as they could be today. Personal rivalry or plain malice is much the focal point of many lives now as they were back then. Some things simply do not change.
Tradition lends itself to the effect of Uncannie e’e, as it was referred to in times gone by, with just a glare. This was a hereditary ability within at least selected families. There were no barriers to its use, and care was required in order to prevent such an affliction from being bestowed on local folk.
The effects on those who did suffer tended to be superficial, at least by today’s standards. The main targets of any such act would often start and stop with damage to the personal possessions or achievements of the target and/or their family.
Individuals or their families were not the sole targets. Wells could dry out, spoil milk or butter, and even sink boats. Any child or animal that had developed an illness with no apparent cause had a ready-made culprit.
Once afflicted, there was said to be a cure for all of this.
A suspected victim would be required to try and transfer the effects to another object with direct physical contact.
Generally, this would be a length of cord or yarn wrapped around the infected area until it was determined that the infection had been removed. A worn-out or frayed condition was sufficient to be a sign of the cure.
This would then be burned once it was split into separate pieces. Other options could include a burial.
Tell us your thoughts on Evil Eyes in the comments section below!