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Evil Eye

Evil Eye

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Antonio Mulatu (M.A)

If we travel every corner of the world, despite the differences in the cultures which hold the evil eye myth, it retains largely the same meaning no matter where the story is told. For centuries, people had been brutally killed and different kinds of atrocities were committed on them and/or they were socially, economically, politically and psychologically marginalized simply because they were alleged to have an evil eye. The barbaric attack on certain segments of the society who are engaged in activities like pottery, charcoal production, blacksmith and etc were beyond imagination., Even if these atrocities have been declining over time, it still exists in some parts of our society. In its most basic form, the evil eye is thought of as a stare made to inflict harm, suffering, or some form of bad luck on those that it is cast upon. It is a stare that intends for something bad to happen to the object of one’s focus, either out of jealousy or pure malice. The superstition of the evil eye holds that the malicious look is powerful enough to bring about actual disaster for the unfortunate person that is the receiver of the glare.

 Meanwhile, the earliest known evidence for belief in the evil eye goes back to ancient Greece and Rome. There, it was believed that the evil eye was the most serious threat to anyone who had been praised too much, or received admiration beyond what they truly deserved. The praised person would become so inflated with pride that he or she would bring about his or her own doom via the evil eye, which was believed to be able to cause physical and mental illness. In fact, any disease that did not have an immediate and obvious cause was thought to be caused by the evil eye. It was thought that the gods and goddesses were punishing those who had become too proud of their achievements, and destroyed them with the power of the evil eye to restore them to the level of mere mortals.

The evil eye is a powerful superstition in Ethiopia. Many cultures preach that the eye is the most powerful point at which the body can emit energy through. Thus, a strong fear of an “evil” look from the eye makes sense; the evil eye holds enormous powers. Our society fears that even an “admirable” eye can bring about ill luck, resulting in the drying up of milk cows.. In fact, people will offer a bowl of milk to neutralize the threat of the evil eye.

Accordingly, our society believes that jealousy is at the root of the evil eye, whether in the form of a malicious or admirable look. Interestingly, many cultures teach that the times of major change in life like during puberty, marriage, or childbirth are the most vulnerable to the threat of the evil eye. Thus, during these times individuals are advised as much as possible to refrain from self-pride and meeting total strangers. Similarly, rural societies believe that even though men are capable of casting the evil eye, women are alleged to be the most common sources. For this reason, women will paint their eyelids black to protect themselves from the evil eye, and to prevent themselves from eyeing another person.

Methods of Evil Eye Protection

Different cultures have different methods of protection against the Evil Eye. The followings are the most commonly known. These are: the use of evil eye amulets, burning incense/gum-Arabic, and new mothers keeping objects under their pillows or on their heads (these may include red, black, or white strings; a nail, gunpowder, salt, garlic, a ring or a pair of silver scissors).

Moreover, pinching the ears of some animals, burning furs and bones will help to be protected from evil eye. Especially, women make tattoo on their forehead and around neck as a best protective device.

The Evil Eye in Modern Life

Interestingly, the myth of the evil eye seems to make a lot of sense in our current world. The idea that too much fame, fortune, success, or praise can bring about one’s downfall makes, especially in celebrity culture, might reinforce the notion of the evil eye. Therefore, they use different kind of rings on their hands and tattoos on different part of the bodies just to be safe from evil eye.

Evil eye from Psychological and Sociological perspectives

Still now psychology could not bring about any empirical evidence on the existence of evil eye but it believes that once upon a time evil eye is created as a myth by certain individuals deliberately or to make fun out of it. From a sociological point of view, evil eye is an agreed upon creation by society, descending from generation to generation perceived as real. Thus, sociologists teach and create awareness on societies to avoid stigma and discrimination on individuals claimed to have an evil eye without tangible evidences.

Generally, it can be concluded that the existence of evil eye still remains a myth with no scientific support and evidence. Rather, it appears to be a mentally or socially created ideal spirit or phenomena. This is a glimpse of the way I see it; share your opinion and experiences on the subject so that we can deepen our understanding further.

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