I recently decided that my attempts to increase my sugar intake were behind the steady stream of illnesses and accidents which have hallmarked my last three months. I base this on the fact these incidents started 2 weeks after I doubled the controlled amount of carbohydrates I consume. My inclination towards illness hasn’t been this pronounced or continuous since before I changed my diet.
My extended family considers it to be a sketchy theory at best, though. They’ve been eating sugar for decades and with the exception of those who have died, and those who have illness and diseases– they’re totally fine.
Luckily for me, they’re all in consensus about the actual diagnosis.
Evil Eye, of course.
I was just thinking about Evil Eye the other day because Steven Glassman (http://stevenglassman.de/2013/12/12/death-on-the-brain/) was asking about cultural bits of common knowledge that are actually quite uncommon elsewhere.
I was raised to be wary of Evil Eye, to know how to treat it, and to know how to protect against it through the use of various apotropaic talisman. But most people I meet have no idea what I’m talking about, or only know it from the perspective of the country that they were raised in. The Evil Eye that my family believes in is a mosaic of all these versions.
For those who don’t know…
Evil Eye is why you usually get sick after a big presentation or game.
Evil Eye is why the delicious food item you saved for last falls off your plate.
Evil Eye is why a sliver of glass in a large room find its way to your foot.
Evil Eye is the look your friend enviously gives your hair when it shines in the light.
Evil Eye is the hateful look from the person behind you in the shopping line.
Evil Eye is the passing thought from others– that you have more than you deserve, that you have everything they want, or that you are standing in their way.
Evil Eye is not necessarily out of malice– though some cultures would disagree. My family says it’s a matter of too much thought and energy, not all of which is controlled or positive, being sent your way.
Evil Eye is fascinating because it’s a cultural tradition that my Brazilian aunt and Greek uncle share, with my Mexican mother, Indian father, and Ethiopian uncle. My parents have built a family by collecting amazing people from all over the world and dubbing them relatives– and nearly all of these amazing people guard against the Evil Eye.
Despite that, it’s my least favorite cultural tradition.
I was happy to leave it behind when I moved out on my own. There’s something depressing about always being on the look out for evil thoughts cast in your direction. There’s something unsettling about the idea of requiring spiritual armor.
It’s one of the few beliefs, perhaps the only, that both my parents hold and I rejected. I sidestepped it without fuss or fanfare. I’ve wiggled away from Evil Eye discussions for nearly 15 years, and conveniently married someone who had never heard of it. The way I see it, I share many traditions with my family, but I don’t need to share them all.
The last few months didn’t change my mind, so I intended to read their words of caution and worry, absorb the love, and move on.
Except when I came home today, I noticed Dave had drawn something.
It is in his own particular style, and not yet done, but it is obviously a common Evil Eye talisman with a very familiar intricate design. One that my parents had painted on my headboard as a child, in fact. One that my favorite doctor placed in my hands during my deepest sleep.
“Do you know what that is?” I asked him.
“No,” he replied, “But I saw it in a dream and knew I had to paint it. It just looks like something that belongs to you.”
And I guess it does. No matter my beliefs– thanks to the net of cultures and faiths that have always been there to catch me– it’s a protection that will always be mine.
Are you familiar with Evil Eye? Are there cultural tidbits you grew up with that other people don’t necessarily know?