What is the Evil Eye?
Since ancient times, people of different cultures have believed in the potency of the evil eye. The evil eye is a look or gaze that can cause harm, suffering, or bad luck to the person on whom it falls. Envy, jealousy, or pure malice may be the reason. The person who casts the evil eye wants something unfortunate to happen to the object of their gaze. People believe that the malicious look can trigger some actual disaster for the person who is the object of the glare.
The curse of the evil eye was born from the belief that someone who is very successful can attract other people’s envy. This envy becomes a curse that will destroy their good fortune. This idea is explained by Heliodorus of Emesa in the ancient Greek romance Aethiopica. He writes, “When any one looks at what is excellent with an envious eye, he fills the surrounding atmosphere with a pernicious quality, and transmits his own envenomed exhalations into whatever is nearest to him.”
The Evil Eye in History
The belief in the evil eye was prevalent in ancient Greece and Rome. The evil eye was seen as the biggest threat to someone who had received too much praise or admiration. Such a person would become very proud, and this would lead to their downfall through the evil eye, which could supposedly cause physical and mental illness. Thus, any disease which had no apparent cause was a result of the evil eye. People believed that the gods were punishing those who were too proud of themselves by ruining them using the power of the evil eye. In this manner, they would become mere mortals again.
Fear of the evil eye is seen in regions like Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Central America. In Shahih Muslim Book 26, The prophet Muhammad warns about its dangers in Shahih Muslim book 26. He says that one should take a bath to counteract its effects.
Frederick Thomas Elworthy’s book, The Evil Eye: The Classic Account of an Ancient Superstition, is a comprehensive compilation of evil eye legends. He explores the symbol in many cultures, like the petrifying gaze of Greek gorgons to Irish folktales of men who could bewitch horses with just a stare. Almost every culture has a legend about the evil eye. Despite its pagan connotations, it is even found in the Bible and the Quran.
Many renowned thinkers also felt that it was no mere superstition. One of them was the Greek philosopher Plutarch. In his Symposiacs, he proposed a scientific explanation for the phenomenon. He felt that the human eye could release invisible rays of energy that were powerful enough, in some cases, to kill children or small animals. He also claimed that some people had a very strong ability in this respect. Some people to the south of the Black Sea, according to him, were uncannily good at inflicting the curse.
The Evil Eye in Hinduism
In India, the evil eye is a highly entrenched belief. According to Hinduism, the eye is the most powerful point at which the body emits energy. Hindus believe that even a look of admiration can attract bad luck. This could cause the supply of milk from cows to dry up. So Hindus offer the one who looks admiringly a bowl of milk to nullify the threat of the evil eye.
Hindus also believe that jealousy is what lends power to the evil eye and that the times of major change in life, like puberty, marriage, or childbirth, are when people are most vulnerable to the evil eye. Even animals, like the snake, can give one the evil eye. And more than men, it is women who supposedly cast the malevolent glare.
Evil Eye Protection and Remedies
Evil eye amulets are very popular as a protection measure. One such is Hamsa, or the Hand of Fatima (a hand-shaped symbol with the evil eye on the palm), used in Africa and the Middle East. Greeks carried incense or the cross. New mothers would keep objects like red, black, or white strings, gunpowder, a nail, bread, salt, a ring, garlic, indigo blue, or a pair of silver buckles under their pillows or on their heads. Each of these objects had its own symbolism. Gunpowder signified the ability to fight back, the nail signified strength, the indigo’s power was its blue color, and salt represented preservation and strength.
In some Greek villages, the fur of a bear was burned to remove the curse. In other villages, a gypsy would massage the victim’s forehead to erase the ill effects of the evil eye.
In Greece, Armenia, and Assyria, a pinch on the rear is believed to remedy the curse. In Europe, Christians make the sign of the cross with their hands while pointing the index and pinky fingers at the source of the evil eye simultaneously. In Bangladesh, people draw a black dot on the forehead of children. Pretty young women draw a secret dot in kohl behind their ears to protect themselves.
Use of Black Thread as Protection
In India, many people wear black thread on their ankles or wrists. Women wear it on their right leg, and males on the left leg. Using black thread as protection against the evil eye is an old concept and has been around for centuries in many cultures. In some cultures, it is worn as a bracelet or a necklace. The black thread will supposedly absorb the negative energy of the evil eye and protect one from its adverse effects.
However, science does not support such claims. Scientific evidence to prove that black threads can avert the evil eye or protect one from its ill effects is absent. Maybe the answers lie in the power of the human mind. If you really believe in its power to protect you, then your conviction may work on your mind at a subconscious level and manifest your desire.