Avoiding the Dangers of the Evil Eye — Greek Tradition

Pimsleur Approach • TraditionsComments (0)

We’ve all seen it. Perhaps it was from a teacher, a former friend, an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, even a child. But when it comes from that little old lady all dressed in black you inadvertently insulted or offended, you feel it piercing your skin as you pray she doesn’t have any secret knowledge of some long-buried curse she’s memorized the words to.

It’s the Evil Eye.

Through every culture and time period in history, people have feared the Evil Eye. But it began as many modern things did, in ancient Greece, when it was believed to cause any number of dreadful afflictions such as disease, bad luck, infertility, dehydration, withering and death. Even good ol’ Socrates himself was rumored to possess a potent evil eye, and it has been referenced by Plato, Pliny the Elder and many other otherwise rational thinkers.

Nazars (Greek evil eye charms) sold in a shop ...

Shop with charms to ward off the Evil Eye: Image via Wikipedia

So the question is, what does one do to protect against it? Well, in traditional modern Greek culture, there are several techniques one can use to gain immunity from the Evil Eye. First and foremost is a special secret prayer which is offered by the healer, often calling upon the Virgin Mary to release the afflicted from the Evil Eye. It is said that if the victim and the person offering the prayer begin to yawn, that is a sure sign that they have, indeed, fallen victim to this dreaded curse. At that point, the healer makes the sign of the cross three times, then spits three times into the air. Spitting three times is the short-cut method for good luck in general, as it represents the Holy Trinity.

Another popular method of protection is to paint an eye onto a blue charm and wear the charm somewhere on the body. In general, the color blue is believed to ward off the Eye particularly well, although those with blue eyes are believed to be endowed with a particularly potent form of the Evil Eye.

Besides lowering cholesterol, thinning the blood, and making your date not want to kiss you, garlic is thought to be very effective at warding off the Evil Eye, and therefore many people don’t go anywhere without a clove or two on their person.

The Greek Orthodox Church has some strong opinions on these types of do-it-yourself methods, though. According to their belief, trying to remove the Evil Eye without the church’s oversight could result in demonic possession.

Whatever your chosen method of Evil Eye protection, it’s important to avoid falling victim to it in the first place. So next time you’re about to steal someone’s parking spot, talk in the movies, practice drums at 3:00am, scream into your cell phone on the quiet car in the train, or bring a crying baby to an adult movie, think twice… someone just may know how to give YOU the Evil Eye.

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