The Eyes...Doorways of Perception

Updated: Aug 21

Eyes as symbols allow a conduit between ourselves and the forces of wonder that surround us. I intend for my beaded eyes to "watch over in love," and to be transmitters of positive energy wherever they find themselves. Eyes can be veils to magical worlds.

-Betsy Youngquist


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History

The concept of evil has been with us as a species since our earliest ideas were placed on stone. Likewise, the eye as a symbol has been around almost as long as man has been expressing. Different cultures and societies have incorporated the eye as a symbol of knowledge, providence , and divine direction. The eye is a powerful symbol representing not only the search for wisdom but also the need for protection from a higher power that watches from above. Regarding the etymology of the word “eye”, it originates from the Germanic word “augon” and the Old English word “eage”.



Many cultures have used the eye as a symbol. In ancient myths, the eye is associated with a higher vision. The eye of Horus symbolized the moon and the eye of Sut symbolized the sun. In India, the Eye of Siva is known as an all-seeing eye. During the Renaissance, the eye was a symbol for magic. In Masonry, the all-seeing eye symbolizes the “sight that annals time and space." In other words, the eye represents “higher clairvoyance”. In the Lodge of the Masons, the eye also symbolizes the “Omniscience of God.” On the American dollar bill, it represents a guiding, protective force.



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The Evil Eye Effect

The evil eye is a “look” or “stare” that is believed to bring bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike. The perception of the nature of the phenomenon, its causes, and possible protective measures, varies between tribes and cultures. The evil eye is a talisman that is meant to protect you from these evil spirits.


Plutarch’s scientific explanation stated that the eyes were the chief, if not sole, source of the deadly rays that were supposed to spring up like poisoned darts from the inner recesses of a person possessing the evil eye. It is a curse or legend believed to be cast by this malevolent glare, and usually given to a person when they are unaware.



In Shahih Muslim Book 26, the prophet Muhammad warns about the dangers of the evil eye and says that one must take a bath in order to counteract the effects of the evil eye’s power.


Much as in Classic Greece and Ancient Rome, Islamic culture holds that excessive praise will bring about the ill effects of the evil eye. Thus, instead of praising an adorable child, one is supposed to say that “God has willed” the child’s good lucks, or risk endangering the youth. Ashkenazi Jews also believe that excessive praise causes a vulnerability to the evil eye, and will repeat a Yiddish phrase, "Keyn aynhoreh!" meaning “no evil eye” in order to protect against it.



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Hinduism preaches that the eye is the most powerful point at which the body can give off energy. the Hindus teach that the times of change in life--as in during puberty, marriage, or childbirth--one is most vulnerable to the threat of the evil eye. Hindus believe also that even animals such as the snake are capable of giving one the evil eye. The Hindus believe that, even though men are capable of casting the evil eye, women are the most common sources of the glance. For this reason, in South India women will paint their eyelids black to protect themselves from the evil eye, and to prevent themselves from eyeing another with the look. In fact, the Hindus will offer the “admiring” glancer a bowl of milk to counteract the threat of the evil eye.


In South America, Brazil holds a superstition equivalent to the evil eye known as the “fat eye.” Compliments which are sincere are not feared to cause the evil eye to attack as in other countries, but insincere compliments are thought to put one at risk.


In Europe, the largest source of the evil eye was believed to be witches. Yet those with eye colors which were rare were also seen as powerful possessors of the evil eye look. For instance, Germans feared those with red eyes. In Ireland, those with squinty eyes were feared to be evil eye sorcerers. In Italy, the unibrow was another sign that one would cast an evil eye.