Avoid looking at the Evil Eye at all costs.
December 29, 2014
BUCKY, WALLY, AND RUSSELL had the run of Bucky’s house. His parents had gone into town leaving the boys to fend for themselves for a short while. The lads promised to be on their good behavior. After a morning of watching cartoons in the rural Midwest, they began to get restless. They came upon an idea during commercials for Nestle’s Quick and Easy Bake Ovens. They decided to do something a little more daring. If they played their cards right, no one would ever know. Bucky entered the room bringing with him the needed supplies for their secret activity. A roll of aluminum foil and a pipe wrench.
“Russell, Wally and I will go outside and turn the antenna with the pipe wrench. You watch the TV and keep changing the stations every so often. If you see a far-away station that seems like it is coming in, come to the door and holler at us, okay?”
“Okay. How will I know you moved the antenna again?” Russell asked Bucky.
“We will bang on the wall three times. I think you can hear us. Even if it is only a fuzzy picture, we may be able to get it to come in better by adding some tin foil to the supplemental rabbit ears that Daddy spliced in.”
“I’m ready when you are!” Russell replied.
The old black and white console TV with splayed out, ultra-modern legs flickered with static gobbledy-gook. Lines rolled vertically. Lines rolled horizontally. Lines rolled diagonally. Russell fiddled with the controls.
He ran to the door. “Something’s coming in! It looks kind of creepy.”
Bucky and Wally came back inside. For five minutes they messed around with tin foil and dials trying to get the faraway station to come in better. When they were satisfied, they parked themselves in front of the set. The images were snowy, but they were as good as it got for the time and place. An announcer began to speak.
“My name is Maxwell Armbruster and I will be your host for the next hour. We will examine a macabre mystery in this episode of Mysterious Orb.”
“I have heard of this show, but they don’t show it way down here,” Wally commented.
Maxwell Armbruster continued. “I ask you to look at the objects on this table and ponder what they all have in common. Make your best guess and I will tell you the answer in a minute.” The camera seemed to zoom in on the items
The boys scooted closer to the television. “Look!” Wally exclaimed.
The items on the table were models of a dog, a snake, a scorpion, a centipede, a raven, a sword, a cornucopia and a trident. There was also a plaster cast of a human hand with the index finger and the pinkie finger extended. This gesture is known as the mano cornuta, sign of the horns. There was a clove of garlic, a bundle of sage and a section of rope made into a noose.
“Have you looked at the items long enough to decide what they have in common? It is a hard question, isn’t it? Let me help you by adding that all of these things are supposed to ward off something threatening and malevolent. Do you know what that something is?” Armbruster asked his TV audience.
“Vampires! Look, there is garlic. It must be vampires or werewolves, maybe,” Bucky announced to his friends.
“That was what I was thinking,“ Russell agreed.
“Did you think these things are to ward off vampires?” Armbruster asked, almost as if he were reading their minds. “What if I removed the garlic from the pile? What would your answer be then?” Armbruster gestured to the items on the table. “Do you give up? These items, including the garlic have all been thought to ward off the Evil Eye.”
“The Evil Eye? You really mean there is such a thing?” Bucky had no idea it was real. He had heard of it but thought it was a superstition.
“Wow. The Evil Eye.” Russell could not believe it either. “Maybe he will tell us about it, this Maxwell Armbruster guy.”
He did. Fear of the Evil Eye goes back to ancient times. Some say that the exaggerated eye make up of ancient Egyptians was to counter the effects of the Evil Eye. One third of the world’s cultures have had some belief in the power of the Evil Eye to hex crops, fertility, potency, and even cause plagues or death.
It is also a belief that some people who possess the Evil Eye are not evil themselves, but are only carriers. The Italians even gave a name to these carriers, jettatore. Some often-mentioned famous carriers include popes: Pius IX, Leo XIII and Paul IX. Napoleon III and Lord Byron have been mentioned as carriers. King Alfonso XIII of Spain was also suspected of being a carrier. This King Alfonso seemed to be followed around by death and destruction, including explosions and mass drownings.
Mussolini dreaded meetings with Alfonso, but he went through with them because he felt that ignoring the curse made it worse. Mussolini touched iron, his own antidote for dealing with the Evil Eye.
Believe it or not, saliva is thought to be another antidote for the Evil Eye. Ancient Greeks applied their own saliva liberally to themselves, or licked the faces of children they thought had been exposed to the Evil Eye.
People have been so distraught because they are convinced they have been given the Evil Eye by a malevolent individual that they have killed themselves to avoid dealing with the consequences of the hex.
In the days of public hangings, people often asked for pieces of the hangman’s rope as a safeguard against the Evil Eye. It was a believed neutralizer.
One bizarre story says that some of the United Nations delegates were fearful of the peacocks on the grounds. They would turn away from the eye-like patterns on their feathers. It was rumored that the peacocks were eventually removed because it was causing a disruption—the fear of the eye.
In the 16th and 17th Century many presumed witches were executed. These innocent woman were put to death, only on the say-so that they had given others the Evil Eye. Often people with physical deformities were accused of being cursed by an Evil Eye.
“That was terrifying!” Wally exclaimed when Maxwell Armbruster finished his show. “No telling how many people have the Evil Eye, right around here. We should make a list of suspects. I think I know of a couple of them right now. They are both old ladies.”
“It is scary to think about. Right now I need to get that outside antenna fixed back, if you guys will help me. My folks could be back at any time and if they suspect something is amiss, they will give me the Evil Eye for a week.” Bucky pleaded with his friends.
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