“What is it with these eyes staring at me everywhere I go?”, we were climbing the stairs to visit my man’s aunt, and here on the third floor (I don’t like lifts) I finally had to ask. The eyes were gazing up at me from door mats, from stickers stuck to door frames and from the delicate amulets that hung on some of the doors.
Of course I had already encountered the flat blue disk at the back of my darling’s front door when we first met, but I had never paid much attention to it. But here in
The belief in the evil eye goes back a long way and is wide-spread: it occurred in ancient
At first I was curious as to why so much power is attributed to envy. After all much worse fates can happen to human beings other than simply being envied. But once I looked at it more closely I realised that much of the bad people do to each other actually stems from envy; from simple everyday things like the back stabbing that goes on in most offices up and down the country, to the more extreme things like theft and even murder. It's often comes down to wanting what somebody else has. And according to the late Alan Dundes, professor of folklore at the University of California (Berkeley), envy was believed to have a drying and withering effect on the victim, thus sucking the life out of it. I was starting to see why so many cultures have felt the need to protect themselves against it.
When my man was a little boy his mother made sure an evil eye was always pinned to his undershirt. Babies and children are supposedly particularly vulnerable to the envious gazes of others, especially those who are childless, or whose children are not healthy. There are countless tales of how the mother notices in the evening that the evil eye attached to her child’s clothes has cracked during the day. It is believed that the amulet used to protect against the evil eye either absorbs the envious glances of others or reflects them back. In some cases the envy is so strong that the amulet splits in two. But at least the wearer is safe.
We have an evil eye hanging in our kitchen, perhaps it is a subconscious decision on our part to protect ourselves against any envy experienced by friends who taste the culinary marvels that are created there – but I seriously doubt it. Perhaps it is simply a pretty object to rest our eyes upon every so often.