Can you gift an evil eye for healing?
The short answer: yes, of course.
And also please call your health professional if you or someone you love isn’t feeling so well.
As we often talk about in our blogs, the “evil” in the use of the phrase “evil eye” is frankly misleading.
Sometimes we wonder if there’s a better way to say it.
Because the evil eye as a symbol – a circle with a dot in the center, or a group of concentric rings, or an elongated, pointed oval with a dot in the center —really is about protecting.
To our knowledge, the evil eye charm is never worn to inflict harm. That would be a shonda!
So, for this discussion, we’ll call it the protective eye.
Like the eye of a good mother, Jewish or otherwise (the eye charm is worn by non-Jews, and has been worn by Moslems for centuries, too…just sayin’…), tracking her beloved child around the park or playground, scanning the crowd at the marketplace for strangers, keeping a watchful gaze not only upon her beloved, but also on the larger scene.
Wearing the eye, and the cultural awareness from the great deserts of western Asia and North Africa (which is where the eye was first worn), suggests an awareness of a world where not everything is milk and honey.
As Jews, centuries of our humor, our scholarship and our attitude bears the sting of hardship.
Then again, whose history is free of hardship?
For instance, many people in the world use the Scandinavian countries as a model of how the world should be.
These are tall, athletic people who like to chop their own firewood.
They like clean, open rooms and polished surfaces.
They are known to be modest and hard-working.
This is why in contemporary economic and societal studies, countries like Norway and Sweden are often cited as ideal modern cultures.
To which we say Mazel tov.
But did you know that history is filled with centuries of war, enslavement and really bad vibes between Norwegians and Swedes, for example?
We’re off-topic, so please Google it yourself, but yes.
For instance, Norway as a nation was conquered and oppressed by the more militaristic and technologically aggressive Sweden.
Norwegians were forbidden to speak their own language, forced to speak Swedish, and until recently considered themselves underdogs.
So, it’s not all swoopy, minimalist furniture and butter cookies, folks!
Back to the idea of hardship.
Scandinavian folklore, prior to Christianity, is filled with what would be called superstition and magic.
The terrain of Scandinavia is rugged.
The coast is ruthlessly dangerous.
And then there were those pesky Vikings—who knew when they’d show up and steal your horses, burn down your village, and TAKE ALL YOUR GOLD JEWELRY (talk about a shonda !?).
The world was dangerous to all of our ancestors, and they all had responses of a magical nature to create a feeling of security and self-empowerment.
People of pre-Christian Scandinavia, like people everywhere, wore charms to deflect bad luck, keep kitchen pots from boiling over, etc.
The trials of living in the southern Mediterranean, North Africa and western Asia were more about drought than too much snow, so the evil eye as we know it references drying up and loss of moisture as the primary motif.
For a scholarly insight, you can read the work of the brilliant Dr. Alan Dundes, a Berkeley professor who concentrated on folk beliefs, especially the evil eye and apotropaic magic.
And back to healing.
If we accept that our world, though marvelous, is potentially dangerous, wearing a charm that makes you safe can only be a good thing.
Doctors in the modern West are just beginning to acknowledge the dialogue between physical symptoms and what some call the “subtler body”, meaning our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and spiritual context.
If your baby has an ear-ache or a fever, or if you slice off the end of your thumb while cooking, call 911 or go to the emergency room.
Never take chances when you have overt physical evidence that something’s wrong.
One of the great blessings of living in the industrialized world is that we don’t have to light candles and hope for the best.
And when you’ve gone to the doctor, studied the lab results, gotten a second opinion, then a third, looked at the facts, taken every step that the modern world has to offer, then we do love to add an evil eye charm to the mix.
Without putting too fine a point on it, we often have given an eye charm to someone with chronic health condition.
Could be rehab.
Could be chemo.
A wise Rabbi once told a friend, “Take all the good advice you can get.”
If someone you love is recovering, may the gift of an eye charm bring swift and total recovery.