A Brief History of the Evil Eye

Occasionally anyone can receive a malicious look, but most of the time we won’t take it seriously and forget about it. Though, in many places across the world the belief in “the evil eye” is taken seriously and requires action to avoid harm.

A human look believed to cause malice to someone, or something is called the evil eye. It is believed the harm might come in form of a misfortune, an illness or in some cases even death.

In many cultures illness is considered a medical as well as a magical issue. Sometimes unexpected diseases are attributed to curses. The curses are even believed to be affecting inanimate objects such as buildings and vehicles. Just about anything can be blamed on the curse of the evil eye.

Well known throughout history, the evil eye is mentioned in ancient Greek and Roman texts, the Bible, the Koran, and even Shakespeare’s plays. According to a cultural survey, 35 percent of cultures believe in the evil eye.

The evil eye has its roots in magical thinking and superstition. If someone was constantly having bad luck or had some unexplained illness it was usually blamed on a curse. Evil eye was often used as an explanation of why bad things happen to good people.

Eyes are believed to have special powers, as they are the gateway to a person’s soul. The emotion of jealousy underlies the evil eye’s connection to evil magic. An eye disease has come to be associated with malice and bad luck due to the belief in the power of a gaze.

Small children and infants are considered to be especially vulnerable to the curse of the evil eye. In many countries including Turkey, Greece, Romania and India, public praise to children is considered a taboo since it can draw the attention of the evil eye. It is believed that bad intention is not required, and a person can cast an evil eye without even realizing it.

To prevent the effects of the evil eye, amulets or beads can be worn that usually use blue and have an eye symbol. People who believe they have been affected by the evil eye will often seek out shamans, which doctors and psychics to get rid of the curse.

It is tempting to shrug off the evil eye as a superstition belonging in the past. However, folklorist Dundes notes, we "should keep in mind that the evil eye is not some old-fashioned superstitious belief of interest solely to antiquarians. The evil eye continues to be a powerful factor affecting the behavior of countless millions of people throughout the world." 

Last Updated: 7/16/2019 10:03:48 AM