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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.