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Ison
Starting Member

USA
18 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2004 :  00:41:25  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I don't know if this could be called theology, but hear me out -- I think it has theological roots.

When I lived in Greece I saw examples of the "Evil Eye" everywhere. (For those who are unacquainted with the concept, the "evil eye" is a generic term for ill will wished on someone by someone else, whether consciously or unconsciously. Someone may have the evil eye without knowing it, or may cast the evil eye on someone else without meaning to. Supposedly, by wearing a glass blue eye, one can protect oneself from said evil.) The eyes are really a little creepy, in my opinion. I saw them pressed into freshly-poured cement sidewalks, tied to gift-wrapped packages, and -- of course -- worn in all manner of jewelry. Sometimes it's just a blue stone, and sometimes it has a white and a pupil in the center.

Needless to say, the "evil eye" is widely regarded as a superstition, an old wives' tale, and one of the reasons Orthodoxy is held in such low regard by other forms of Christianity. (It should be noted, though, that the concept of the evil eye seems to be rooted in Mediterranean culture, regardless of religion: I have known Jews and Muslims in the Middle East who wear them also.)

But I heard an extremely intelligent Greek friend speak about it once, and what he said made sense to me. The evil eye represents pride, the mother and root of all sins -- and as such, it *is* possible to be prideful without realizing it, and to cause others to be prideful without intending to. This is why Greeks spit after giving a compliment: to keep the person from becoming overly self-satisfied.

I see the "evil eye" concept as one more vestige of Christianity that was around long before anyone was called a Christian. Somewhere along the line, humans realized they were vulnerable to this sort of problem -- vanity, pride, complacency -- and they developed a way to combat it, rudimentary though it might be. Of course, the fulfillment of those beliefs is only found in Christ, who taught that love, the greatest of all virtues, was the cure for pride, the greatest of all sins. But still, there is more than a kernel of truth in the belief.

Obviously, there's something old-world and archaic about the whole thing. Spitting on a bride as she walks down the aisle? Ridiculous. But keeping in mind, at all times, the temptation to become prideful, and being vigilant about resisting it? I think we could all take a lesson from that.

I would love to hear others' thoughts on this topic.

n/a
deleted

118 Posts

Posted - 12/06/2004 :  21:52:52  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Forgive me that my first comment comes as a philosopher of religion, though I am Orthodox. It is important to remember that not all religious practices ever “take hold” of us, nor should they necessarily. Few of us raise our hands toward the horizon just before dawn anymore to thank God (or the gods more likely) for the new day. It’s not that I have a disagreement with the person who welcomes the new day by raising hands to Heaven, it’s that I don’t find anything about it that fits into my own practice or piety; it doesn’t occur to me to agree or disagree.

This can happen even among people of the same faith. For example, some Orthodox don’t follow the practice of wearing a wedding band on their right hand. Others don’t find a way to get worked up over Old Calendar/New Calendar issues. Some find respect and understanding for those who do, while not accepting it into their own practice.

As a personal comment, I appreciate your friend’s comment that the “evil eye” can represent pride. However, I doubt that the origin of the practice has Christian roots, but rather trails back to early superstitious or pagan (not the same thing, by the way) world-views. What I think is important to realize is that just because some Orthodox practice something doesn’t mean that the practice is Orthodox.

Blessed Fast,

Steve
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Aristokles
Senior Member

USA
1097 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  21:56:51  Show Profile  Send Aristokles a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Reader's comments here seem pretty much on the mark. The spitting-thing and those blue baubles used to bother me.
The Church does have teachings about the Evil Eye (which exists in some form in virtually ALL cultures historically).
See below for a good treatment:

http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7079.asp

Demetri
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arescan
Starting Member

Canada
4 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  22:20:33  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Blessed is our God!

St Basil the Great composed a prayer for deliverance of the spell of the evil eye (vaskania). It can be found in the Evcologion.

+Emanuel

Greek Orthodox Church of America (Former Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Alexandria)
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n/a
deleted

118 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2004 :  18:01:26  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Oh, yes! I think I have seen St. Basil's prayer before. And thanks to His Grace for bringing this up. Since you have, I feel that I should clarify my earlier comments and try to offer some further fodder.

When I spoke of practices not "taking hold" in peoples lives, I certainly didn't mean that they couldn’t. In other words, I think that St. Basil’s prayer could be prayed by today’s American Orthodox, if they understood protection from the “evil eye” to mean, say, protection from covetousness and other forms of ill will from one’s neighbor. I was trying to get at certain practices that “verge on magic” (to quote the excellent article from Demetri. Thanks Demetri!) or just seem strange.

That the “evil eye” is associated with covetousness, may be seen (to one degree or another) in the following scriptures:

Deut. 15:9; Deut. 28:54; Deut. 28:56; Prov. 23:6; Prov. 28:22; Matt 6:23; Matt 20:15; Mark 7:22; Luke 11:34

Some of these are a stretch, but it’s still fun to look at different translations, particularly Brenton’s Septuagint.

Good topic Emily!

Steve
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Gina
Starting Member

1 Posts

Posted - 05/15/2005 :  22:47:22  Show Profile  Visit Gina's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Christ is risen!

This topic is interesting to me. I've traveled and lived in Turkey, where the "blue eye" is also quite common. So it's something I associate with folk Islam, though I was aware the Greeks also used these charms. For that reason the idea makes me uncomfortable, but it's interesting to hear about the prayer of St. Basil.
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Kosmas Damianides
Starting Member

Australia
34 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2005 :  10:12:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
In greek the Evil Eye (Kako Mati) and bewitchment (Vaskania) are two completely different things.

The prayer of Saint Basil is in fact for "Vaskania" Bewitchment not the "evil eye". Vaskania is more to do with witch-craft and hexes rather to so with the evil eye. Most people confuse these two.

The evil eye is not what most Christians think (the eye of God or the "All Seeing Holy Trinity") it is in fact the eye of Satan. In Egypt it was the eye of Isis. The Knights Templar and Hospitalar, the Freemasons and the Zionists used this symbol (and still do) since their "supreme being" has no form and it suited them to use this symbol. Many Pagan cultures used this symbol.

Appart form the symbol and good luck charm, many think of the "evil eye" as being a power which everyone possess, that can out of jealousy (or hatred) be cast, hexed or cursed on someone. Sometimes this curse is intentional but most of the times it is by mistake. (ie it is commonly stated that the mother casts "the evil eye" on her newborn every hour of the day). This is hog wash and superstition.

I think that its about time the Church did something about this. I have even seen the sign of the cross on the floor in some churches. This is blasphemy and disrespect out of ignorance.

The evil eye can not exist when the Cross exists. The symbol of the evil eye is not christian. It makes me sick to see this sign everywhere including in Churches.

According to one local Church Council in Russia which is now also agreed upon by all other Orthodox Churches, the only type of Icon that can show the Holy Trinity is the Icon of "The Hospitality of Abraham". Especially modelled on the St Andrei Rublev Icon.

All other Icons are latin influences and theologically icorrect.



"...if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
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Lover of Monasticism
Average Member

USA
919 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2005 :  14:46:19  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Aye. When my spiritual father (who was our parish priest for twelve years until he was relocated two months ago) first came to our church back in '93, he was utterly disgusted to find the icon of The Eye inside a circular cross on top of the iconostasis. He had that portion of it cut out and replaced with IX XC NIKA. And about two years ago a new paten/chalice/astorisk set was donated to the church. It was during the part of the Liturgy where the priest removes the astorisk from the paten that he noticed an engraving of The Eye on the top of the bolt that holds the two peices of the astorisk together.

Our liturgical manufacturers really do need to do their homework and know what is acceptable and what is not before they slap on any decoration they want to on the liturgical objects that they produce.

Kyrie Iesou Christe eleison me.
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Ann
Starting Member

2 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2006 :  13:32:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The evil eye is superstition that has crept into our faith because of ignorance... there is witchcraft and the prayers are for such. But there are simple ignorant souls who have been passing on from one generation to the next what they believe is part of our faith but is definately NOT.... It won't stop if we don't speak up about it and put an end to it. I have had so many people giving me these small evil eye tokens for my little ones but I politely refuse and explain to no avail. Oh well, my our Lord enlighten the simple folk and help us discern what is right from what is not.
yours in Christ,
unworthy ann
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Kosmas Damianides
Starting Member

Australia
34 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2006 :  09:58:07  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was reading my post on the evil eye and it seems that I was a little unclear and I may have been a little zealous - I apologise if I have misguided anyone.

As a teenager, I often wondered if we believe in the evil eye or not, if this is an Orthodox dogma or is it superstition? But after personal experiences and having encountered prayers in the Orthodox Church which are aimed at nullifying the effects of bewitchment known in Greek as Vaskania I am aware that this deceitful and harmful power does exist.

Vaskania / matiazma is probably much the same as what many people know today as the "Evil Eye". I know most people associate these two as one and the same, however, it is important to trace the origins of both the term "Vaskania" and the more popular name "Kako Mati"/Evil Eye. I don't mean that Vaskania or the Evil Eye do not exist, it does and it is Biblical, therefore should be treated seriously.

However, my concern is when other practices which have pagan origins are used in order to counteract this...deceptive power. That is why I prefer that, instead of saying "evil eye", we would use the more biblical term Vaskania or bewitchment...probably quite impossible since people are now used to saying "evil eye" (Kako Mati) and it is better known than the term Vaskania. I am probably thinking too deep again but evil does not have an otological substance, which is another reason why I believe the term Evil Eye is quite erroneous and dualistic in nature. Evil as a power or a dark force however does have a basis in Orthodx theology I would be interested to find out more on what the Church says of this. Furthermore, Greeks seldom say Kako Mati, they often say, someone has "eyed me" - ("me matia3av"). I remember seeing a documentary a very long time ago dealing with the evil eye and how it is known in all cultures and it is known basically using the same terms. The eye was very important in many cultures. The peacock feather was once believed to have special powers. Blues stones resembling eyes were also believed to be powerful runes holding much power.

Anyway, we often see faithful pious people using these small glass blue eyes these days, and we see people out of ignorance using them on their newly baptised children. Quite a contradiction isn't it?

I suggest having a look at Wikipedia's entry on the evil eye. It is important to note that envy is such a great sin in every culture. It is also noteworthy that envy has such a destructive power. I also noticed that in Jewish and Arabic culture it is called the Unlawful Gaze, in Turkish simply to Stare or Gaze 'nazar', yet in Persian it is called the eye of Satan.



"My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. " (Micah 6:3)
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allieh
Starting Member

United Kingdom
2 Posts

Posted - 09/07/2012 :  09:24:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi I had a question about eye beads please. I am a Christian (not Orthodox) and my daughter is 2.5 yrs. I spent some time in Turkey on the Agean coast and saw these 'protection' from the evil eye everywhere too, and agree with a previous poster who said they are creepy. Anyway, my friend has just returned from Istanbul with a bracelet of these for my daughter as a souvenir. Fortunately my daughter put it on then took it off immediately and gave it to me, she hasn't asked for it since. I was very uncomfortable about having it around and was unsure of how to be rid of it so I burned it and prayed for protection for us both then put the broken pieces in the bin. Did I do the right thing? thanks for any replies x
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Aristokles
Senior Member

USA
1097 Posts

Posted - 09/07/2012 :  10:02:05  Show Profile  Send Aristokles a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
My short opinion, NO, you did not do the wrong thing.
The ancient belief in the evil eye persists throughout human history in many cultures worldwide, including and especially the near and middle east. The worrisome aspect of course is our own psychological empowering of the belief as these talismans allow.
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asorthodox
Junior Member

USA
381 Posts

Posted - 09/07/2012 :  14:27:12  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am not overly familiar with the subject as it has not been part of my jurisdiction's Orthodoxy. I have read that the evil eye is something different than the all-seeing eye of God, which we see in some Greek Orthodox churches, etc.

Fr. William
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Aristokles
Senior Member

USA
1097 Posts

Posted - 09/07/2012 :  17:25:07  Show Profile  Send Aristokles a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Indeed, Father, it is very different.

Reading the earlier posts in this thread I think we pretty much covered the subject.
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allieh
Starting Member

United Kingdom
2 Posts

Posted - 09/12/2012 :  20:45:11  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for your replies, particularly Aristokles. God bless you x
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TedMann
New Member

66 Posts

Posted - 01/06/2014 :  19:16:01  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I think Orthodox people tend toward superstition. Examples: blaming illness on demons (however, some illnesses may be demonic), the evil eye, and crossing the mouth when yawning. It seems to me that Christ came to free us from all this man-made superstition, fear and nonsense.
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