Wed | Oct 17, 2018

The Evil Eye: Can it harm us?

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2015 | 12:00 AMDr Glenville Ashby
A depiction of the evil eye.
Khamsa sometimes worn as a glove is a well known protection against the evil eye.

The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. (Luke 11:34)

Is the Evil Eye nothing but a superstitious creation, driven by malicious people bent on abusing naivete? Is it really?

In some Caribbean parts, one is said to possess it from birth; a natural gift or curse, depending on who is asked.

In Turkey, nazars or charms are sold in bazaars. They are blue and white and are bought by thousands of tourists.

In Spanish countries, it is called mal de ojo. In the Dominican Republic, a small bag filled with garlic is worn around the neck of little children to ward off evil spirits and sickness. And around a newborn, a small piece of black cloth is tied around the right arm to prevent evil and negativity from penetrating the body.

In some Middle Eastern countries a chain with an amulet on which there is carved on one side a long feathered bird with large eyes that is said to ward off jealousy or hassad; or prevent a person's evil eye from destroying their property.

Parents also shield their new- born babies by placing a 'watch eye' to guard them from deceptive well-wishers.

And throughout Persia (Iran) the evil eye remains a religio-cultural object that prevents harm caused by malicious intent.

Many reject the superstitious element to this practice, arguing that our thoughts are laden with energy and that we are capable of directing that force for good or bad; knowingly or unknowingly. There is truth to this hypothesis. The article 'Spiritual Energy' articulates the complexities of this subject. It partly reads: 'Today, physicists know that matter is a form of energy. Energy comprises 98 per cent of the Universe and matter only two per cent.

We become endowed with the ability to transmit our own energy field and our individual unit of power.

Humans are (therefore) energy transformers. The better we

transmit this energy or allow it

to flow through us, the more

alive and effective we become. (

That energy when directed needs a portal. That portal is either the eyes or the mouth. (The latter will explain the power of curses.) But for successful transmission thoughts must be directed with faith and unwavering determination. These two constitute the principal attributes of prayer. They are also the principles of the Evil Eye in action.

How then can we combat being victim to others' evil thoughts? It is widely believed that water can render the Evil Eye ineffective. Hence, many people perform the time-consuming ritual of washing their sidewalk and their yards, or upon where a person believed to possess the Evil Eye will walk. It is a practice that is very prevalent in the Caribbean.


are they effective?


Another $64,000 question is: Are amulets and talismans specially made to ward off the Evil Eye effective? Or, have they become a commercial venture, a ploy to dupe the unsuspecting or superstitious? The answer is multi-fold.

A person who relies solely on an amulet for protection is one without faith and can be likened to a dog without a bite. Faith is the cornerstone of every wilful thought - for good or bad. The superstitious person must be mindful of this truth in times of uncertainty when he is inclined to resort to a mere object for protection. I am reminded of the words of Richard G. Scott: Who does not have need of assurance in times of uncertainty and testing? Who is so self-confident that there is never want for a stabilising influence in life? A fundamental purpose of earth life is personal growth and attainment. Consequently, there must be times of trial and quandary to provide opportunity for that development. But without faith, one is defenseless in times of trouble or imminent harm. The Evil Eye can only be rendered ineffective by the power of faith.

Mass-produced amulets are powerless in themselves. Many people recognise this fact and buy them as cultural artefacts.

A person driven by superstition has created a psychological cauldron that will devour him. That person is unfamiliar or out of touch with his inherent God-given energy that can be directed by faith for protection and


And finally: Is the Evil Eye then only harmful to those who believe in this phenomenon? If we take the premise that we are energy, with a force within that can be directed, then the answer is "no".

But we can shield ourselves through prayer and ensuring that our hearts and thoughts are not infected with selfishness, cruelty and greed. It is said that we should "give the gift of our innate power and goodness to others and simultaneously let this power and goodness into our heart".

This is the basis of the law of attraction. Our own thoughts are constantly attracting good or bad into our lives.

If our thoughts are corrupt we can be victimised by the pernicious intent of others. Essentially, there is no higher truth than the dictum: "Like attracts like".

n Dr Glenville Ashby is a social critic and president of Global Interfaith Council. Send feedback to of follow him on Twitter@glenvilleashby.