Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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'Five in Your Eye!'

You've Been Using The Devil Horns Wrong For YEARS – Here's What It Really  Means… – Rock Music Revival


Much to my chagrin, I couldn't remember how to say “evil eye” in Witch.

Truth be told, the evil eye is not a terribly active category in my thought-world. Still, I've been there myself, both on the giving end, and on the receiving. (Making eye contact with two young girls seated across from me on a bus in Malta, I was surprised to see them both cross themselves. It didn't occur to me until later that it was probably my green eyes that spooked them. Green eyes—well-known to be diabolical in nature—are rare in the Mediterranean world.) I'm quite confident that you, my friend, have as well; it's simply one of the hazards of social existence.

The friend with whom I'd been discussing the topic certainly has. She's both striking, and gifted; throughout her life, this a made her the target of envy.

I've been in the same position myself; that's what happens to those of us that stand out. (“To hate excellence is to hate the gods,” said Socrates.) I'm no great beauty, but I've always had the gift of charisma, which down the decades has not infrequently drawn the ire of those who don't, but wish they did. Like every other arena of endeavor, the pagan community can be a highly competitive place.

Stand-out gifts often draw the evil eye. You know it: the look that strikes like a blow. The look of envy, the look of ill-wishing. Sometimes it's accompanied by words of ill-intent, sometimes not. Some may not even realize that they're giving you the Eye, though they are.

Of course, there are ways and ways of ducking the Eye. Redirection is always a good tactic: you give them something else to Look at. Amulets blunt the blow of the first strike; that's their job.

There are verbal prophylactics, too, to startle and disrupt the act. “Five in your eye!” is a good one, especially if accompanied by an out-thrust hand with fingers and thumb joined.

When it comes to gods, the Horned preeminently protects against the Eye. The sign of the Horns usually does the trick: two horns, one to poke out each spiteful eye.

My friend and I had a good, rollicking discussion on the Eye and how to prevent it, as one would expect from two witches. Finally, just as our conversation was drawing down, I remembered how to say “evil eye” in Witch. In fact—maybe this was the source of my cognitive shortfall—it's not a noun, but a verb.


This tells you quite a bit about how witches think. Don't let language and its grammar fool you.

The Eye's not something had, but something done.




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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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