The power of a gaze can be palpable—we’ve all experienced that weird sensation of knowing when someone is staring at us. Perhaps that’s not all we’re feeling. Perhaps it’s a little more darkly fascinating than that.
While Medusa may have epitomized the power of the malevolent stare, Sumerian cuneiforms from 3,000 BC include references to what we’ve come to call ‘the evil eye’: the ability of negative energies to pass from one person to another solely by the power of vision.
Black magicians know how to harness the power of their eyes to create problems for their victims, indeed, up to about 1736 (when the British witchcraft laws were revised) the ability of a witch to ‘fascinate’, or ‘overlook”, was established fact. Usually, though, the evil eye is passed through envy more than malice (‘envious eye’), and the passer is not aware of the damage that their jealous glance is creating. But, no matter whether it is intended or not, the evil eye can create quite a negative turn for the worse in the life of those who have been ‘blinked’.
Sickness, injuries, lost love, impoverishment, sometimes even death are all the results of an evil eye cast upon a person. And, since more often than not the perpetrators have no intention of putting their envious eyes anywhere, and therefore can show no outward signs (unlike witches and magicians who often sported squints, sties, drooping lids and so forth), there is no telling where anyone might encounter a glance baleful or jealous enough to stick. Or when.
There is no record of the evil eye having ever been banished. Like so many other ancient beliefs, it has been downgraded from a reality to a myth. Which isn’t all that comforting when you think about how, for the longest time, the city of Troy was considered a myth. Until they found out it wasn’t.
So what can a person do about the evil eye, just in case?
Enter folk and sympathetic magic. In sympathetic magic, it is held that like things can fight like things as homeopathic treatments do today. In folk magic, it is held that a good defense is the best bet. These overlap quite a bit where evil eyes are concerned.
There are as many ways to defeat or cure the evil eye curse as there are cultures, but hands down, the power of an evil eye is best deflected by another eye. Hence the symbol of the protective eye is found just about everywhere human culture is found. From the eyes painted on the prows of boats in the British Isles and rural India, to the Middle Eastern ‘hamsa’ (an amulet of a hand with an eye in its palm), to the Ancient Egyptian Eye of Horus shining out from the American dollar bill, the dark energies of evil eyes are cast back and away even today. Target-like Greek ‘eye’ amulets and Pennsylvanian Dutch Hex signs that include center circles are symbolic eyes which work as protection devices in the same way. Interestingly, birds of prey are similarly repelled by large ‘eyes’, whether on insect wings or as representations hung from farmer’s trees–as above so below.
Carrying an eye with you — be it realistic or symbolic, as a necklace, a bracelet, an amulet, a tattoo, a keychain, etc.—is the surest way to go if you don’t want to risk ever being ‘blinked’. Placing an eye (or a Hex sign) outside your house, in your vehicle, and having one where you sleep are good ideas as well if you’d rather be safe than sorry.
After all, the world is only as fascinating as we allow it to be.