The evil eye, hamsa, or (mati) in Greek, is a universally recognized symbol of safety and security. The Mediterranean and West Asia are regions where the concept and significance of the evil eye are especially prominent.
Those who “look” or “stare” with envy or dislike at another person are said to bring bad luck upon themselves. Different cultures have different ideas about the phenomenon, its origins, and how to stay safe. You can wear an evil eye talisman to ward off such malevolent entities.
Belief in the evil eye, or “mati,” dates to at least the sixth century B.C., when it first appeared on drinking vessels in ancient Greece. Many classical authors, including Plato, Hesiod, Plutarch, and others, mention it when attempting to describe or explain the evil eye.
According to Plutarch’s scientific explanation, the eyes are the primary, if not exclusive, source of the deadly rays that are said to emerge from the depths of a person with an evil eye like poisoned darts. Furthermore, it is a myth or legend that a person is given a curse by this evil gaze when they are unprepared to receive it.
Amulets and talismans in the shape of an eye, usually blue or green, are believed to provide spiritual protection from the evil eye.
These talismans, also known as “repellents” against the evil eye, can be worn as jewelry, such as a necklace, bracelet, pair of earrings, or ring. It can also be strung in glass beads over the front door to keep the fireplace safe.
Is It Just a Myth?
Strange as it may sound, the myth makes much sense in the modern world. Especially in the context of celebrity culture, the belief that one’s downfall can be precipitated by attaining too much notoriety, wealth, or acclaim may lend credence to it.
Millions of faithful would likely confirm your suspicions. People who are frequently in the public eye, such as famous people, who have accomplished much or have reason to be proud may want to always keep an amulet or talisman on them.
You’ve probably seen this well-known emblem numerous times. You’ve probably used one, and you’ve seen others do so. You’ve probably seen someone give someone the “evil eye” (and you may have even given it yourself).
But are you familiar with the rich meaning behind the symbol and its widespread use across many different cultures? Learn all about the symbol that is currently one of the hottest trends in jewelry right here.
It one of the most potent images of superstition and symbolism. And yet, the myth has essentially the same meaning in every culture that believes it, even though the story’s details are different.
The common belief is that casting an “evil eye” on someone will bring them harm, suffering, or bad luck. It is a look that expresses malicious intent toward its target, whether out of envy or pure malice. According to the belief underlying themyth, a malicious glare can spell real-world disaster for the unlucky target.
Belief in its power can be rooted or traced to ancient Greece and Rome.
For those who have received undue acclaim, it is a natural and present danger. Inflated with pride, the praised individual would unwittingly bring about their demise by attracting attention of one such eye, which was thought capable of causing both physical and mental illness. Many people believed that it was to blame for any illness that didn’t have a clear explanation. It was believed that deities used it as a form of retribution against arrogant humans to bring them back down to earth.
Such beliefs span the globe. Everyone from the Middle East to Asia to Europe to Central America is terrified of the it.
In Book 26 of the Shari’ah, the prophet Muhammad forewarns against it and recommends a cleansing bath to protect oneself from its evil influence.
Like in ancient Greece and Rome, Muslims believe lavish praise can harm health. That’s why, rather than gushing over a cute kid, you should say that “God has willed” the kid’s good fortunes, lest you put the kid in danger. In addition, extravagant acclaim is thought to make an individual vulnerable to it. So Ashkenazi Jews will often recite the Yiddish phrase “Keyn anymore!” (which translates to “no evil eye”) to ward off negative energy.
In India, there is a strong belief that it can cause harm to people. According to Hindu teachings, this is because the eye is the body’s most potent energy emitter. For this reason, it is understandable that the sight of an “evil” eye can strike terror into the hearts of its victims; the evil eye is said to wield tremendous influence.
According to Hindu belief, jealousy gives both a malicious and an admiring look at their destructive power. Interestingly, the Hindu religion teaches that the evil eye is most dangerous at times of transition in one’s life, such as puberty, marriage, and childbirth.
In the eyes of Hindus, even snakes can cast a malicious spell. Although men can also give the evil eye, in Hindu belief, females are more likely to be the perpetrators of such glances. The women of South India believe that the evil eye can be prevented if one takes the precaution of painting her eyelids black.
The evil eye’s South American counterpart is the “fat eye,” a superstition practiced in Brazil. Sincere compliments are not thought to put one at risk of an evil eye attack like in other countries, but insincere compliments are.
The belief that an envious or malicious glance could bring about ill fortune also gave rise to the evil eye myth in Europe. According to popular belief, witches are the primary cause of bad luck. On the other hand, those with distinctive eye colors were considered mighty because of their evil glare. The Germans especially feared people with red eyes. Squinty-eyed people were considered to be evil-eyeing sorcerers in Ireland. Casting an evil eye was also indicated by having a unibrow in Italy.
American culture did not adopt the fear of the evil eye, except in illustrative form. Even though the superstition isn’t strong enough to warrant any special precautions, getting the “evil eye” is considered rude and a warning that the person casting it has ill will toward you.
The Science of Avoiding the Evil Eye and the Practices That Help You Keep It Off
Greeks would also protect themselves from the evil eye by carrying incense or the cross in addition to evil eye amulets. There are also other items that were thought to dispel its effects, including silver buckles, indigo blue, rings, garlic, salt, bread and even gunpowder.
Each of these items had its special meaning and served as protection from the evil eye. Gunpowder, for instance, was thought to represent defiance in the face of the evil eye.
The nail represented strength. The indigo’s blue hue was the source of its strength. An ancient belief held that salt could keep things together and give them resilience.
If these preventative measures don’t work, the Greeks have many other ways to counteract the effects. For example, curses were broken in some communities by burning a bear’s fur. In other cases, the evil eye could be removed by having a gypsy massage the person’s forehead.
A pinch on the behind is believed to remove an evil eye curse in many cultures, including Greece, Armenia, and Assyria. Some European Christians have the habit of making the sign of the cross with their hands while simultaneously directing their index and pinky fingers at the person or thing they suspect of being the source of an evil influence.
Talismans and Amulets Against the Evil Eye
The use of talismans, symbols, and jewelry designed to ward off the evil eye is widespread across many cultures. The intent is to “reflect” some of the evil gaze’s destructive energy. The Greeks were the first to use the evil eye amulet, calling it an “apotropaic” to ward off bad luck. Common in the Middle East is a talisman called a Nazar, which features blue and white concentric circles meant to ward off the evil eye. It is frequently applied to buildings, automobiles, and even jewelry.
The Hamsa, or “Hand of Fatima,” is a popular anti-evil-eye amulet in the Middle East and Africa. The evil eye is depicted on the palm of the hamsa, a hand-shaped symbol. The hamsa can be displayed on wallpaper or worn as jewelry to protect oneself from harm. For Jews, the hamsa represents the “Hand of God” or “Hand of Miriam.” The hamsa has been brought back into fashion in jewelry and other decorative arts thanks to the rise in interest in Kabbalah.