Tag Archives: evil eye

Moroccan Evil Eye

Informant Details

  • Gender: Female
  • Occupation: Student
  • Nationality: Moroccan-American

Folklore Genre: Folk Beliefs/Superstitions (magic)

1. Text

The informant explained a common curse in her culture (the evil eye) and the talisman used to prevent this curse. The evil eye gaze is when someone looks at you with jealousy, and it causes bad fortune. To protect herself from the evil eye gaze, the informant wears jewelry that is decorated with charms that look like eyes. (pictured below) The informant calls this type of jewelry “evil eyes” because they are talismans used to ward off the evil eye gaze. A superstition surrounding this practice is that when the evil eye talisman breaks and falls off, it has done its job protecting you. In addition to the evil eye talisman, the informant’s mother burns sage around her and recites surahs and bismillahs from the Quran. These rituals are also meant to ask Allah for protection against the evil eye.

Image: an evil eye talisman attached to a hamsa hand given to the informant by a friend

2. Context

The informant learned of the evil eye gaze and the evil eye talisman from her mother, who is from Morocco. She has received many evil eye talismans from older family members as well. These practices are performed often, especially when you have good fortune or someone compliments you in an envious tone.

3. Analysis

The evil eye talisman is an example of sympathetic magic because the jewelry is made to look like an eye, which represents the evil eye glance. In International Folkloristics, Dundes says “With homeopathic magic, we have ‘like produces like,’ such that one can enact through mimetic imitation the desired event or outcome.” (222) Since the talisman resembles the eye, this form of magic uses the principle of homeopathic magic. The evil eye belief suggests the cultural idea that jealousy is malevolent and causes misfortune. In this culture, being the subject of envy is seen as a bad thing. It also suggests the cultural belief that fortune can be fickle and blessings may be taken away as quickly as they are given.

Palestinian Evil Eye

Informant Details

  • Gender: Male
  • Occupation: Student
  • Nationality: Palestinian-American

Folklore Genre: Folk Beliefs/Superstitions (magic)

  1. Text

The informant explained a common curse in his culture (the evil eye) and the practices done to protect against this curse. The evil eye can be inflicted when someone is jealous of you, when something good happens to you, or when someone compliments you and doesn’t say mashallah. Most often the evil eye is caused by jealousy. To guard against the evil eye, people keep talismans that look like an eye called nazars and hamsa hands. These can be worn as jewelry, hung in the car, and placed in the house in rooms where guests visit. Wearing blue can protect you from the evil eye. Sage is also used to ward against the evil eye. The nazar is typically worn as a necklace or a bracelet with lots of circular beads that resemble eyes. The beads are blue with a black circle in the middle. One superstition about the nazar is that it should be given as a gift because it is bad luck to buy one for yourself. When the nazar breaks, it isn’t effective anymore. It breaks because it has protected you from someone’s jealousy. Once it is broken, you can’t wear it anymore because it holds on to the negative energy. 

2. Context

The informant learned this belief from his older family members from Palestine. In the first grade, his aunt gave him a nazar because he was being bullied by other kids. His aunt is from a town outside of Ramallah in the West Bank of Palestine. Generally, the rituals that ward off the evil eye were done when people expressed jealousy or negativity towards them.

3. Analysis

The nazar is an example of sympathetic magic because the jewelry is made to look like an eye, which represents the evil eye gaze. The nazar uses the principle of homeopathic magic – “like produces like” – because it resembles an eye. The evil eye belief suggests the cultural idea that jealousy is malevolent and causes misfortune. It also suggests the cultural belief that fortune can be fickle and blessings may be taken away as quickly as they are given. In this culture, being the subject of envy is not viewed favorably. The superstition that a nazar must be received as a gift represents the belief that fostering strong interpersonal bonds protects people from misfortune. This suggests a cultural value of community and loyalty.

Evil Eye

Text: The informant started wearing evil eye jewelry, accessories, etc. during middle school. All the evil eye items they possess were gifted to them by family and, later, friends. They like to gift people evil eye items now. The informant always wears the evil eye because they see it as a barrier between them and any bad energy or intentions that could come their way.

Context: The informant grew up with both their parents always having an evil eye charm on them. Before they were gifted their first evil eye, their dad told them a story about his jealous brother, and how every time he would tell the brother about his accomplishments the evil eye’s blue color would fade, which he took as a sign that the evil eye was protecting him from the jealousy of his brother.

Analysis: Evil eye is widely used as a form of spiritual protection from negative energies. This folkloric belief is an example of contagious magic, since possessing an evil eye charm or having it on your person is what is believed to protect you from the negative spirits. Belief in the evil eye could be a reflection of values like spirituality and protection.

Evil Eye Jewelry

Main Piece

Informant told a story about the Evil Eye within Arabic communities, involving a ritualistic wearing of an object (and phrase, within some communities).

“So the concept of the Evil Eye is that you have to wear it somewhere on your body, otherwise when people think bad thoughts about you it’ll come true, and then, like, the Evil Eye absorbs them all. And then, once it’s absorbed too much, it breaks…this is only in some Arabic cultures, but when someone goes ‘Oh my god, I really love your purse,’ they have to go ‘مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ’ (informant then translated phrase as “praise be to God”) after it, otherwise you have to give it to them – like, cause then the Evil Eye will get you. It’s kinda like a “oh my God, I love your earrings!” and now they’re jealous, so if you don’t give them the earrings or they say ‘مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ,’ their jealously will start ruining your life – like seep into you.”


Informant Interpretation: Informant heard about it from his Mom, who told him to wear it all the time for protection. “It wasn’t something I learned, it was just something I knew.” He still frequently wears Evil Eye jewelry as a method of protection for himself, and knows many others who do. He sees it as something more inherent to his family and society, and directly associated with paying attentions to others’ emotional states.

Personal Interpretation: This is an example of a folk belief or superstition involving a ritualistic object and many ritualistic tendencies, primarily practiced as a method of protection for oneself. I personally found its interaction with ‘magic’ to be the most interesting–the idea that someone else’s negative thought of you could seep into you feels like contagious magic to me, which wearing the folk object (Evil Eye) or repeating a ritualistic phrase can protect you from.


Informant is a 20 year old college student primarily raised in Birmingham, UK. He is male-presenting, Black, and of Sudanese descent, and speaks English and Arabic fluently.

Huevo Limpia-Egg Cleanse: Mexican Cleansing Ritual


Me: “Grandma, remember when you rubbed an egg on my brother when he was little? Was that some sort of ritual?

EG: “Oh yes, haha that is called huevo limpia. I learned it from my mom. My mom was very religious and I grew up seeing her use an egg in order to remove the Evil Eye, el Mal de Ojo. Typically, an egg is used to absorb any negative energy in order to cleanse the body and aura. The way I was taught was to rub an egg all over one’s body and to wish the bad luck or spirits away. Typically, I will say a prayer like the ‘Our Father’, in Spanish of course. But yes I do remember doing this when your brother was very young because he was very anxious and scared about something; when he told me I knew to simply open the fridge and grab an egg so I can quickly get rid of any negative spirits.”

Me: “But why an egg?” 

EG: “Supposedly my mom said that within Catholic spiritualism, it is common to use an egg because eggs have the power to energetically absorb any negative energy that one may have. You are supposed to take an egg, hold it close to your heart and say a prayer or any wishful affirmations before you start rubbing it around one’s body from head to toe. Once that process is finished, you can actually crack the egg and you can see the bad energy that was absorbed. If the egg is bubbly, foggy, or has strings from the yolk, that means the bad energy was extracted. When you crack the egg, you can see your results and notice if the cleansing has worked or not.”

Context (informant’s relationship to the piece, where they heard it, how they interpret it):

-EG’s relationship with this piece stems from her Mexican and Catholic culture and overall spiritualism within her own beliefs and those of her mother’s. EG would hear of this ritual practice from her mother given that she grew up in a Catholic household where she was accustomed to witness these ritual performances taking place within her living room whenever someone came to her house for a cleansing. EG interprets this ritual as an act of purified meditation. Given that this performance allows for bad energy to be removed and cleansed from one’s aura, EG intercepts this egg ritual to be an organic act that allows someone to feel protected and start a “new beginning”. 

Analysis(what kind of personal, cultural, or historical values might be expressed) YOUR interpretation:

– The overall cultural value within this ritual stems from a typical Catholic and Mexican household where these acts are often seen being linked to the concept of “brujería” or “witchcraft”. Despite the negative connotation that witchcraft receives, many Mexican-Catholic communities tend to believe that the act of huevo limpia takes on a more religious approach due to the prayers and religious affirmations that are said during the process; this can be seen as an ethical approach to the lifestyles of many Mexican Catholics. The personal values that can be seen within this ritual is the strong spiritual beliefs that an individual inherits within themselves as they truly need to believe that such an organic household item, like an egg, can be used as a spiritual tool in order to heal something that is not visible to the human eye. I see this ritual as an overall act that enables a sense of clarity and tranquility within one’s mindset. Considering that I experienced this ritual being done to my brother, I remember the reassurance and satisfaction that was washed over my brother after EG inspected the results of the egg. From being exposed to the process from start to finish, I am able to see this ritual as a natural symbol of comfort and protection as the religious aspect embedded within the performance can lead one to feel “clean” and protected from any bad energies; this was evident within my brother’s reaction. Considering eggs represent new life, the earth, and God within mythological beliefs, it is with no curiosity that an egg is the main emphasis within this religious practice. A similar ritual that has similar notions to huevo limpia is the spiritual ritual within sage/Palo Santo cleansing. As a matter of fact, the process of burning sage/Palo Santo as you walk around your home, letting the smoke coat the atmosphere, is similar to this egg ritual because they both are performed with the intention of getting rid of evil and or bad energies/spirits. These concepts within the egg ritual and the sage/Palo Santo ritual are acts of contagious “magic” given that these performances carry out an action with the emphasis of touching and or being connected to the designated target within a magical act.