Pagan Paths

Hellenismos, otherwise known as Greek Reconstructionist Paganism, is the traditional, polytheistic religion of ancient Greece, reconstructed in and adapted to the modern world. It's a vibrant religion which can draw on a surprising amount of ancient sources. Baring the Aegis blogger Elani Temperance blogs about her experiences within this Tradition.

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Be Wary of the Evil Eye

We have already established that certain doom is sent by the Gods and should be suffered through. But there is another kind of doom, sent not by the Gods, but by fellow men. And against this, one is absolutely encouraged to fight.

As human beings, our anger, envy and spite can result in what is known as the Evil Eye; a curse upon another usually transferred by a look. We might not even intend to harm the other person but we will, regardless. In ancient Hellas, this occurrence was as real as the sheep that grazed the fields and the slaves that worked the house. Interestingly enough, the belief in the Evil Eye--or 'bad eye', as it's translated into Greek--is still upheld in modern Greece.
When you suddenly feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous or every muscle in your body starts hurting for no apparent reason, it is most likely that someone wished you ill, either consciously or subconsciously. It is then prudent to think back and find the exact moment the bad eye was given. It could be a compliment given, a present received or it could really be just a glance from across the street. Children and women are considered especially susceptible to the bad eye.
As for the givers of the bad eye; blue-eyed (or sometimes dark-eyed) people are considered a primary sources of the Evil Eye curse as well as old women. One way to prevent the curse from coming out is to spit on the ground three times after giving a compliment. That way, any jealousy or spite should never reach the person the compliment is paid upon. Back in ancient times, I assume there was actual spit involved but nowadays, it's customary to imitate the process of spitting and saying 'phtou' three times.
Although I have been unable to find a solid connection to this, I suspect the Evil Eye is linked to miasma. It is a form of spiritual pollution and something that is expected to occur in day-to-day life. The giver of the bad eye is therefor not a bad person, although it may be proper xenia to refrain from complimenting someone too much or to, at least, keep your eyes from lingering. 
Miasma can occur through hubris and nemesis. Both also seem to be the primary causes of the transference of the bad eye. Hubris, in this instance, means presumptuous conduct while nemesis is the ill will or indignation (of the Gods or others) which such conduct arouses. Both definitions by Nilsson.
There are ancient ways to test if you have been cursed by the bad eye. The primary method is to take a dish or cup and pour some water into it. Then, you drop a few drops of olive oil into the cup. If the oil floats, you are not cursed; you may simply have a stomach flu. But if the oil dissolves, you have been given the bad eye and you should cleanse yourself of it.
In modern day Greece, there are people--usually older women--who know the Christian prayers to recite. They will look something like this:
"O Lord, our God, King of the ages, who holds all creation and is all powerful, Who made all things and wrought all things by a single command; who changed the seven-fold furnace and flame in Babylon into a cool rain and Who protected the three holy children unharmed; the physician and healer of our souls; a bulwark of all those who believe in You; we pray to You and we beseech You, remove and cast away every diabolical energy, every satanic assault and every attack, every harmful and wicked curiosity and the evil eye of the wicked and sinful persons from your sevant name ; and whatsoever has happened, either by beauty, or by courage or prosperity of jealousy or envy or by the evil eye, do You, O loving Master, stretch forth Your strong hand and Your mighty arm, and visit this, Your creation, and send to him an angel of peace, a strong guardian of soul and body, who will cast out and drive away every evil will and every poison and the evil eye of the envious and evil people; so that Your servant, who is guarded by You, may sing with praises; "thee
Lord is my help and I will not fear what man may do to me;" and again, "I shall not fear evil, for You are with me; for You are the Lord, my strength, the Prince of peace, and the Father of the age to come. Yea, O Lord, our God, save Your servant from every evil thing keeping him above all evil; by the intercessions of Your all-holy and glorious. Lady, Theotokos and all-virgin Mary, of the Archangels of light, and of all Your Saints. Amen."
Of course, the ancient practice looked a lot different. Artemis and (presumably) Hekate were prayed to, to remove the bad eye from the inflicted party. The oil-in-water test would still have been used. A common ancient practice seems to have been to spit on the middle finger and then rub the spit onto the forehead of the afflicted. This practice was mostly executed by elderly women upon infants. 
Interestingly enough there is a Delphic Maxim that reads: 'Control the eye' (Οφθαλμοθ κρατει). While, in modern times, this would most likely be interpreted in terms of fidelity to your spouse, I would wager a fair amount that, in ancient Greece, this maxim was almost entirely linked to the bad eye and nemesis. By 'controlling your eye', you stopped yourself from checking if the grass was greener at the neighbor's house and, inadvertently, transferring your greed and/or envy upon them. 
To this day, you can buy charms and amulets against the Evil Eye on every street corner in Greece. The blue disks reflect back the gaze and keep you safe. Blue is, and was, also considered a protective color. These eyes were found on pottery dating back at least two thousand years, showing that the belief is, indeed, very old.
The Evil Eye, may be just a myth but those practicing Hellenismos would be wise to heed its warning, regardless. As we operate in a system that believes in the power of the bad eye, it might be prudent to keep your eyes to the ground when you feel the green-eyed monster come upon you. And if you suddenly feel ill, don't hesitate to whip out the olive oil.
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Elani Temperance is a twenty-seven year old woman, who lives with her partner in The Netherlands. She has been Pagan for a little over twelve years and has explored Neo-Wicca, Technopaganism, Hedge Witchery and Eclectic Religious Witchcraft before progressing to Hellenismos. Although her home practice is fully Hellenic, she has an online Neo-Pagan magazine called 'Little Witch magazine' ( in which she and several co-writers try to cover the whole gamut of Neo-Paganism. Baring the Aegis is also on Facebook:


  • Rose
    Rose Monday, 03 September 2012

    Sounds like this may be the origin of parents not complimenting their children's accomplishments for fear the child would get "a big head" and act above their lot/station.

  • Rose
    Rose Monday, 03 September 2012
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance Tuesday, 04 September 2012

    That is a fantastic website! Thank you, I hadn't discovered that one. I'll study that one in the coming days.

  • Merle Moss
    Merle Moss Wednesday, 05 September 2012

    Hey! It is very interesting in that in my late teens I experienced a kind of 'Aura Sight', which seemed different than anything I could find in books at the time. I noticed that when a friend would call his black lab, she would turn her head and glare at us, and these little red rings would come shooting out of her eyes. But they would only go about 15'. Later, I would watch humans arguing, and it was 'little red rings', it was fully formed arrows, darts, daggers, and swords! They would fly out of the yeller's eyes and 'stick' in the air hovering near their targets. Sometimes I would run across people on the bus who weren't arguing but who had hundreds of daggers 'stuck' in the air around them. After a few weeks of this, I was idly people/ aura watching, and I saw a girl with an arrow 'stuck in the air' near her elbow, trip while going down a set of stairs, fall and break her elbow. The aura of the break was difficult to look at, but the arrow was gone. I began to theorize about the source(s) of 'bad luck'. Later I learned techniques like Grounding and the Fountain that cleanse the human aura of all the 'glare-weapons'/'evil eye uses?' that it may have accumulated. But I wonder if these are teh same thing??

  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance Tuesday, 11 September 2012

    That does sound very much like a visible 'evil eye-attack'! They could very well be related. Thank you for sharing!

  • Merle Moss
    Merle Moss Wednesday, 05 September 2012

    and it was 'little red rings', = WASN'T 'little red rings',

  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson Tuesday, 11 September 2012

    We, too, in Natib Qadish have a concept of the 'enu, the Eye. We've been lucky enough to have a 3200 year old text preserved that gives most of a prayer a priest would make against the 'enu, sending it back to the person or people who sent it in the first place. There's also a modern Lebanese tradition that I believe traces back to the ancient Canaanite one. I enjoyed this post; thanks.

  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance Friday, 14 September 2012

    Thank you for your reply, Tess! It's fantastic you have a text like that. We don't have the actual words that were used, but I'm very grateful we know which deities were appealed to remove the Eye.

    It's interesting that so many cultures have something like the Evil Eye and even more telling that it's not a part of modern society.

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