Evil Eye 

The "evil eye" is the name given in many societies to the power of some people thought to have the ability to unintentionally harm others due to envy by focusing negative energy  through a stare. In Italian it is called mal occhio and mal ojo in Spanish.  This superstition is based on the belief that someone who is envious can look upon you or your home and bring disaster to your property or your family. It is often considered important to placate people who are thought to have an evil eye by giving them gifts. Judges in Europe who pronounced sentences on witches with the evil eye were so fearful they required the accused witch to enter the court backwards to avoid contact.

Prior to modern medicine, disease and death were inexplicable.  Illness, problems with crops, and other ill fortune were often associated with the evil eye. People with obvious deformities and those with any problems with their eyes, such as a squint or piercing gaze, were suspected of having the evil eye.

Protection from the evil eye is prescribed in each culture, but often as a representation of an eye in some form to absorb the negative energy. In many Muslim countries passages from the Koran are painted on the walls of homes for protection. A symbol of the eye is found throughout the Mediterranean on homes, in cars, and places of business. Even the U.S. dollar has an eye on the back, perhaps inspired, in part, because of this long tradition, although the drawing on the back of the dollar bill was designed by Thomas Jefferson,  consistent with his neo-classical ideas and view of Deism.

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