Evil

GARLIC, as a protector against the malign influence of the evil eye, is in widespread use, whether it is stitched in the cap of a new-born baby, hung outside a house, or from the branches of a fruit tree (Abbott). Boats can be protected from envious eyes -long branches of it used to be hung over the stern of Greek and Turkish ships in order to intercept any ill-wishing (Gifford). When a Greek sea-captain first went aboard his new ship, he hung garlic (and laurel) about it, and drank a libation to it. Bunches of garlic are hung about the boats as a charm against storms, as well as the evil eye (Bassett). A Greek mother or nurse walking out with her children would often take a clove of garlic in her pocket, and the formula "garlic before your eyes", or simply the exclamation "Garlic!", was a common expression used by a mother to someone who looks at a baby without using the traditional antidotes (Rodd). It is recognised in Morocco, too, as one of the charms against the evil eye (Westermarck), as was SAFFRON. Evil spirits are said to be afraid of saffron, which is used in the writing of charms against them (Westermarck). Some Hebrew amulets, too, were written with a copper pen, using ink made from lilies and saffron (Budge). It is not an inherent quality in the plant that is exploited. Rather it is the colour that is effective against the evil eye. Another Moroccan belief is that TAMARISK is effective in charms against the evil eye (Westermarck), and so is CORIANDER (Westermarck). In Egypt, if anybody is supposed to have been affected by the evil eye, a mixture of coriander and certain other ingredients is thrown on some live coals, and the smoke made to rise to the sufferer (Westermarck). PINE trees had some means of protection for a child. The way to use them was to sweep its face with a bough from a pine tree (Rolleston). ASH, too, could be used. A twig (from a tree that had a horseshoe buried among its roots) stroked upward over cattle that had been overlooked would soon charm away the evil (Pavitt). Branches of it were wreathed round a cow's horns, and round a cradle, too (Wilde). English mothers rigged little hammocks to ash trees, where their children might sleep while field work was going on, believing that the wood and leaves were a sure protection against dangerous animals and spirits.

There are records of pieces of GROUNDSEL root being used as amulets against the evil eye (Folkard); it was, too, used as a counter-charm against witchcraft. So was HONEYSUCKLE. In this case it is the way that it grows (spiralling clockwise) rather than any inherent quality it possesses that makes it important in this context. Witches and those with the evil eye are forced to stop whatever they are doing and to follow out every detail of an involved design that they see. So interlacing and complex interwoven braided cords were deliberately made to distract, delay and confuse evil eyes, and were worn specifically for that use. The intricacy of a honeysuckle wreath serves exactly the same purpose (Gifford). MUGWORT, especially if gathered ritually on Midsummer Eve, would protect from the evil eye, but then the belief was that it would protect from evil in general. ROSEMARY is worn in parts of Spain as an antidote to the evil eye (Rowe), and ANISE had a certain reputation in this field (Grieve. 1931), as had PENNYROYAL (Bardswell), and PERIWINKLE (Folkard).

POMEGRANATES too have that effect. The Arabs of Hiaina, when commencing ploughing, always squeezed a fruit on to the horns of one of the oxen, so that the juice would go into any evil eye that looked at the animals, and so render the evil harmless. In the same general area of Morocco, some part of the plough would be made of BAY wood, as an insurance against the evil eye (Westermarck). ROWAN is as efficient against the evil eye as against witchcraft. A sprig of rowan tied to a cow's tail was as often as not to protect it from overlooking as against downright witchcraft (MacLagan). SAGE is a protective plant, at least in Spain and Portugal, where it is thought of as proof against the evil eye (Wimberley). WORMWOOD relies on its strong smell as protection, and gypsies looked on THORN-APPLE seeds as protectors (Leland. 1891). CAYENNE PEPPER, too, is used by Mexican Indians as a remedy for magical malviento and malojo (evil eye) (Kelly & Palerm), while in Amazonia, and Brazil generally, GUINEA-HEN WEED (Petiveria alliacea) acts the part. The Ka'apor people of Amazonia make an amulet for infants of the bark, wrapped in cloth. It would ward off the evil divinity (Balee), and they plant it by their doors for protection. In other areas of Brazil amulets are made of the wood, in the shape of the universal figa, usually made with the hand, but wearing a carved one round the neck or waist is much simpler. Brazilian street vendors wear one, or stand one up on their trays so as to protect their goods from the evil eye (P V A Williams).

A different angle to evil eye belief is being able to recognise the victims. According to Brazilian belief, MAIDENHAIR FERN will wilt when looked at by a victim (P V A Williams). PRIMROSES had their dark side (see UNLUCKY PLANTS). Giving a child one or two primroses would leave the donor wide open to a charge of ill-wishing (W Jones. 1880).

Palma Christi is an old name for CASTOR OIL PLANT. It means Christ's hand (palma is the palm of the hand), and is a reference to the palmately divided leaves. The open hand, as well as the fist, is a potent instrument for dispelling ill-wishing or the evil eye, and it is interesting to find that castor oil plant leaves have been worn round the neck to ward off devils, because the leaf is like an open hand (C J S Thompson. 1897). The same applied to RUE, famous as a counter to the evil eye. One of the most potent charms in use in Naples was, and still is, the cimaruta, that is cima di ruta, sprig of rue, a representation of the plant these days, but obviously the real thing originally (see CIMARUTA for a more detailed description). Rue seems to have been the special protector of women in childbirth; that is why the cimaruta is worn on the breasts of infants in Naples (Elworthy. 1895). Elsewhere in Italy, a newborn baby is washed with a decoction of rue, to make it strong, they say (Canziani), but really to protect it from "overlooking". As far away as Mexico, it is recorded that in the Maya village of Yucatan, a mother may keep a child from ojo (the equivalent of the evil eye) by chewing leaves of rue and rubbing them on the child's eyelids. But it is said that a child who gets this treatment will cause ojo to others when he grows up (Redfield & Villa). In the Ardeche district of France, cart drivers would put rue in their pockets to stop those with evil eye from causing their carts to stop suddenly (Sebillot). All over Morocco, too, rue is carried as a charm against the evil eye, but the real protection there is HENNA, red being a good prophylactic, for fevers as well as more supernatural attacks. Westermarck. 1926 drew together many examples of the use of henna, chiefly by women, but also on special occasions by men, and to new-born babies as well. When afraid of being hurt by the evil eye, they paint spots of henna on the top of their heads. An infant at the age of 40 days had the crown of its head smeared with henna, as a protection against fleas and lice, but also, once again, against the evil eye; the application is repeated frequently till the child gets older. Henna and walnut-root bark are applied to the mother and her newly-born baby.

In the Mayan villages of Yucatán, INDIGO is a protector, for the ordinary amulet to keep off evil spirits and to avert the evil eye is a collection of small objects tied togather with thread. It is this thread that is dyed blue with juice from the plant, and the same dye is used to paint the fingernails of persons who are threatened with death from sickness (Redfield & Villa). It was the practice in Jamaica to bury a

PHYSIC NUT in a field, to keep a neighbour's envious (and therefore evil) eye from a good field crop (Beckwith. 1929). In modern Greece, a method of protecting the household from the evil eye is by fumigation with burning branches of dry OLIVE, blessed during Holy Week (Rodd).

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