Recognizing and Combating the Evil Eye: Putting It On and Poking It Out
Have you ever unknowingly had an enemy who intended to do you actual personal harm? Do you know someone who is bitter and magickal enough to twist the tides of fate into a tsunami of circumstances set abruptly against you? Has your self-esteem ever been obliterated under an unrelenting downpour of public scrutiny, while all those little hairs on the back of your neck stood witness like so many Druids on a beach? Perhaps you, too, have come under the deadly gaze of the evil eye.
This curse is employed when someone aspires to erode another person’s confidence or sense of worth intentionally, by projecting emotions such as jealousy, envy, and greed. This hex gives our own fear and paranoia the opportunity to dig in deep and take hold of our psyche through passive-aggressive manipulation and sympathetic magic. If left helpless against the evil eye, we begin to believe in our worst fate, unintentionally empowering and manifesting the curse with our own judgments.
Dispel from your mind that image of an embittered Sicilian Mafioso launching a spittle of condemnation from beneath a floral taffeta halo of hate. After all, it’s the ones we trust implicitly who most favor curses like the evil eye. These are people we often don’t suspect, or those we think are incapable of subversive betrayal. Those who cast the evil eye are not the ones we see coming, but the people who get close, learn our weaknesses, and use this knowledge to exploit us for their personal gain.
Such use of this “covetous gaze” indicates that the hexer not only wants what you have— be it physical wealth, emotional happiness, or esoteric gifts— but also wants you not to have it. If you have been victim to this phenomenon, which numerous cultures recognize and combat, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Predatory sympathetic magic like the evil eye is one of the oldest and most primal curses on the books. The Greek Magical Papyri is evidence enough of how favored this hex truly was in the ancient world. Our surviving recipes from the Greek Hellenistic period document a primordial penchant for sacrificial spells and rare animal talismans, evocative proof of Paganism’s deep-rooted models of mystical survivalism, which drove countless devotees to extreme Gnostic acts for the sake of self-protection.
Long before the Wiccan Rede gave us the “An it harm none…” mandate, our ancient Pagan ancestors were prone to hexing the piss ’n’ vinegar out of each other, because they saw magic as just another aspect of daily social survival. In fact, the evil eye has such a long history of use that it’s credited with inspiring protective artwork, amulets, tonics, ethereal cures, and alchemical remedies, a great many of which have survived since antiquity. Counter and reverse techniques have crossed cultures and continents under the guise of liberal folk bohemia or simply as gypsy luck, and are still very much in use today. If nothing else, the antidotes for the evil eye act as a form of psychological relief. While problem-solving such a magical battle of wills, the victim often chooses to withdraw into solitary meditation or pursue the hexer’s own weak surrender, as a countermeasure against the curse. The evil eye exists, and it is viewed across the world as a vehicle of prejudice and hate. Many esoteric traditions believe that we must guard ourselves daily against attack or we risk falling prey to the energies afoot.
Primal sympathetic magic makes sense in a lot of biological ways, especially when we consider that mating and professional competition among our social groups often expose our instinctually reactive emotions. The sociological studies of academics like Carl Jung relate these emotional outbursts to our deeply rooted psychological struggle between acceptance and intolerance as social mammals. Our darker, more primal and survivalistic emotions constantly challenge our rational civic goodness, tempting our impulse to respond to situations of public distress with fight-or-flight instincts of survivalism. Like all curses, the evil eye is a social and psychological weapon employed by an aggressor to trigger a fear response in the target.
When acquaintances plot our failure, a deep loss of hope and an increase in personal shame are constant stepping stones on the descending path of spiritual deprivation. This is because curses like the evil eye will sustain the hexer’s subtle predatory advantage as they sabotage happiness, innocence, and good luck from the lives of others. Those who have cast the curse find the results addictive, and those who have endured this type of hex know all too well that atrracting the primal disdain of another human is no laughable superstition. Eyeballs involved or not, we are a territorial and superstitious species of instinctively driven emotional beings, sometimes willing to trust or hate others irrationally and to our own disadvantage.
Too many people suffer the emotional effects of common antisocial behaviors like bullying, taunting, and public displays of rejection. Let’s face it: the evil eye is everywhere, and we all instinctively know how to use it. One does not have to sit down and cast a spell in order to cast the evil eye. Moreover, we are all sitting ducks; as social mammals, we really just want to be liked and accepted for who we are. As a global society, public opinion matters more to us now than it ever has, which is why getting “the evils” from someone can be so off-putting.
Why is this primordial hex so powerful? Whether we like it or not, our feeling of social acceptance is a determinate factor in the vast majority of our lifestyle decisions; this is especially the case with choices concerning appearance, marriage, and career, as well as drug or alcohol use. We may feel socially valued and praised when we look and act like our colleagues, friends, or families. We may feel a sense of comfort in following long-held models of human social conformity. This means that when we are truly hexed with dark, antisocial magic like the evil eye, it is often accompanied by unethical slander, hidden jokes at our expense, or various other forms of social humiliation. This type of black magic is a pressing social issue in our modern communities because, like so many of us, the evil eye has gone digital.
No app, trash bin, or delete button can erase harsh social judgments once we have received them; it’s up to us to problem-solve, take an objective perspective, and process social disagreements. We must defend ourselves mentally and spiritually against negative action directed at us, especially when it becomes clear that no resolution is feasible. Even blocking the individual from our contact information may not stop truly malicious social behaviors. The people who use negative psychological magic rely on the emotional responses we experience when we feel targeted, embarrassed, or shamed by others in public: this is what the original evil-eye hex accomplishes best.
Llewellyn’s 2016 Witches’ Companion: An Almanac for Contemporary Living (Llewellyns Witches Companion)