The evil eye is one of the strongest and most prominent symbols in the world, so chances are you’ve seen it or heard of it at one time or another in your life. However, it’s important to make the distinction and understand the difference between the evil eye itself and the depiction of the symbol on amulets, jewelry and other physical objects, which offer protection against the evil eye.
So what is the evil eye? The evil eye is a malicious glare given to someone out of spite, malice or envy, which brings misfortune, suffering or just general bad luck to the recipient of the look. The belief is that the malevolent look holds such power that it is able to bring harm to the person that it’s aimed at.
The evil eye’s meaning stems from the concept that people who do well and achieve great success in some way attract envy from the people around them. The look or glare given by the envious people manifests into a curse that brings misfortune to the receiver, who is usually unaware of the malicious gaze upon them. Most cultures believe that jealousy is the main source of the evil eye.
Different cultures have many different ways of protecting against the evil eye curse, but wearing evil eye jewelry and amulets is one of the most common practices. Amulets and talismans of the evil eye are also widely known as “evil eyes” themselves, even though they are used to protect against the curse. Evil eye jewelry is a very popular choice and you can find plenty of evil eye themed trinkets if you visit places in the Middle East, especially Turkey.
Amulets depicting the evil eye originated in Greece and were created as apotropaic talismans, which had the power to reflect or avert evil influences. Middle Eastern forms of the amulet are commonly known as a Nazar, an Arabic word meaning ‘sight’ or ‘attention’, and are made with blue beads featuring concentric circles of white and blue, which represent the eye.
This form of beaded evil eye jewelry is very popular among tourists and can often be found hanging in local homes, offices, and cars in most Middle Eastern countries.
Hamsa & Evil Eye – The evil eye symbol is also often depicted in the center of the Hamsa Hand, which is a very common symbol of protection and good fortune.
The use of the evil eye symbol on amulets is thought to reflect the evil glare back onto the person giving it. It is usually also depicted in the color blue, which stems from its use in Egypt, where glazed mud would become blue when baked.
Colors Used in Evil Eye Amulets – While the most popular choice of evil eye amulet is a cobalt blue color, which provides karma and fate protection, the evil eye meaning can vary slightly depending on the color of the bead. Different colors represent protection in specific areas: light blue offers general protection, dark green protects happiness, red beads protect courage and transparent beads protect your clarity and mindfulness.
People can choose the color of the beads depending on whether they need more protection in a specific area or stick with the common blue colors for more general protection against the evil eye.
It is still a tradition in many places to present an evil eye talisman at occasions that call for good luck or fortune, such as house warmings, new businesses and when babies are born.
While it’s difficult to trace the origin of the evil eye superstition, the use of evil eye amulets can be dated back to 3300 BC and to one of the oldest Mesopotamian cities: Tell Brak. Alabaster idols featuring carvings of eyes were excavated in the area and are regarded as the earliest forms of evil eye talismans.
Egypt – The typical blue beaded versions only began appearing around 1500 BC as the production of glass developed and improved. High levels of oxides in the Egyptian mud resulted in the cobalt blue color when glazed. The Turkic people then started using blue beads, as they associated the blue color with their sky God, Tengri. These early beads are thought to have influenced the design of the evil eye beads used today.
Greece – The legend of the evil eye itself can be traced back to ancient Greek and Roman texts, and is also mentioned in the Bible and Quran. In ancient Greece and Rome, the evil eye was a great threat to people who received a lot of praise or admiration, especially if it was more than they deserved. The evil eye’s meaning, in this case, was that it would cause the person to bring about their own downfall as they become too proud after being praised. Any disease that had no known cause was attributed to the power of the evil eye.
It was believed that the gods and goddesses used the evil eye to punish people who had become too proud.
The power of the evil eye is still widely believed in, even if just for superstitious reasons, so there are numerous myths about its origin and various methods of protection against it found in different cultures. While the evil eye’s meaning may vary slightly from culture to culture, the general idea of the curse is the same.
Judaism – The evil eye meaning in Judaism follows the idea that if a person has a negative attitude and feels envious instead of joyful when other people succeed, then that person is dangerous to others. On the other hand, it works vice versa, someone with a positive attitude will rejoice in other people’s success and wish them well.
Islam – In Islam, it is thought that too much praise will bring harm because of the evil eye. If praises are made, they will say “Masha’Allah”, meaning God has willed the good fortune, to avoid the negative effects of the evil eye.
Hinduism – The evil eye meaning in India is very powerful as the eye is believed to be the strongest point of energy in the body. Because of this Hindu belief, the evil eye curse is taken very seriously. It is believed that even an ‘admirable’ glance can bring misfortune and cause their cow milk supply to dry up, so people will even offer milk to people with an ‘admiring’ eye to avoid any negative effects. Hinduism also regards women as the most frequent source of the evil eye so women will often wear black paint on their eyelids for protection and to prevent themselves from being the source.
Turkey – In Turkey, it is still a traditional custom to bring an evil eye talisman to babies as it is believed that young children are the most vulnerable and the most susceptible to the evil eye.
Brazil – The evil eye meaning in Brazil is slightly different from other places and is known as the “olho gordo” or “fat eye”. Sincere compliments are not thought to do any harm or bring about the curse of the evil eye, but if the compliment is insincere it will put the receiver at risk.
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