About a life devoted to the love for Folklore, Mythology, Legends and.....Art

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Amulet against the Evil Eye

Amulets and talismans are such fascinating topics. Through time I have collected many modern amulets and talismans. But unfortunatley, I have not been able yet to get my hands on an old (preferable Medieval or Roman) piece yet. I have read a lot of books on the subject though and have seen many beautiful pieces in museums, which gave me the idea of 'reproducing' them. I say 'reproducing' as I am not very fond of copying, so the amulets I make are merly based upon old examples. Taking the utmost care to keep the old symbols and historical features preserved within.

(click picture for bigger view)

The first piece I have made (showed above) is an amulet ment to protect the owner against the evil eye. I'm afraid that the evil eye is too complicated a subject to explain in a few sentences but I will do my best to give a good description of this phenomenon.

It was believed in former days, and in some countries still, that people could do harm simply by looking at a person.
We all know the saying, 'If looks could kill'. Well this was actually believed to be possible in the old days.
The look of certain people, who had the evil eye, was supposed to bring misfortune, sickness and even death upon their victims. This does not have to be a human, as the evil eye could also be fatal to cattle and homes.
The first glance was supposed to be the most 'fatal' so people invented all sorts of things, such as amulets, to distract the evil eye. Red ribbons, little bells, holy texts, images depicting horns, but also more vulgare objects such as little silver amulets in the form of a penis or vulva, were believed to ward of the evil eye and sometimes it was even believed that a simple handgesture could be enough to scare away the 'enemy'.
Another tactic was the use of shiny objects. The evil eye would be reflected and in this way the curse would be reverted. The image of an eye was also believed to be a very powerfull and protective amulet as it would have the same effect as a shiny object and turn back the curse. That's why many shields, especially those used on the battlefield, were decorated with eyes. Nowadays when you visit Turkey you can still find many blue-colored, glass beads formed in the shape of an eye which are sold at any touristic place.

But who are those people with the evil eye? Well many times it was said witches and wizards used their magical look to harm others. But you musn't think that these were the only people with a look that could kill. I have read accounts of simple country folk and even saints who were accused of having the evil eye. In fact many times the person couldn't help it, he or she was simply born with it and though they didn't meant to do any harm they couldn't help bringing doom upon another person.
Many times the evil eye is not associated with magic at all but with envy and the later was supposed to be the real problem.

It might be fun knowing that is wasn't just someones look that could harm. No, this sort of evil could also be transferd by touch and words. I have read about the so called evil hand and evil tongue and I have even read once about an evil foot!

Does the evil eye really exist?
Well, the belief in it certainly does. Luckly I don't have any personal experience with it but I do know people who claim they have. Once I met a person who told me about his sister, she was terribly sick. According to him his sister was so sick she was almost dying. Because no docter could help her they went to a 'white witch' who cured the girl from her sickness. This happend only a couple of years ago.
There are most certainly things happening which can not be explained, such as this story. Though most of it is not much more then a curious folk belief there are these rare cases in which modern science fail to give an explanation.

If those amulets work or not, it can never harm to have one, just in case.....

The 'Evil Eye Amulet' is now available at my Etsy Shop!


  1. It's really nice done. It give me a slight creep to se an eye floating on its own like that.
    I've read my bit on amulets but is not really my cup of tea, because they seem distracting from what feel really interesting to me: the underlying reason of their supposed power.

    In any case I, what I like the most and you didn't mention is the little bells at the bottom. Normally bells are used to summon positive (or positive at some level) presences. Did you put it then with that purpose?

  2. Indeed the bells were put there for a reason, most amulets who are supposed to ward of the evil eye are decorated with little bells.
    And you were very close, the reason why these bells are attached is because of their supposed power to scare away evil. In some cases I even read they give warning signals and start to ´ring´ when danger is coming.

    I can understand it isn´t really your cup of tea, but may I give you one advice when you do decide to read more on this subject. Never read books with the titel, Amulets and Talismans or something like that, they can´t be good. (apart from some exceptions) There are so many books on this subject but so little who are well written and most of them are so terribly commercial. The best pieces written on this subject are found in books on anthropology before the year 1900.
    A good book does explain to the reader the underlying reason of their supposed power.

  3. Oh! I've heard about those ringing bells. I specially like a tale I was told once about a bell without a ringer which was able to ring when spirits were around (it’s a motif that tends to appear in my tales).

    I agree with you on those books; although, from time to time, you may find one that, not being good in anthropological terms, might give you good clues for further reading, but I don’t think it’s normally worth the trouble.
    Thank you for the tip, I’ll keep it in mind (I’m not very satisfied with the most recent works on this I’ve managed to get through lately).
    However, I’ve found some really amazing authors from a bit later -like Kerényi Károly- while the XVIII century rationalism trace of the earlier ones often tends to wore out the richness of the myth/tale/story to fix them in a theory. But, well, it’s the job of a good reader to get through that ;) .