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  • The evil eye

    The Evil Eye is usually dismissed as superstition, never discussed, mostly forgotten and always misunderstood. I was reintroduced to it by a book by Lucy Doncaster and Andrew Holland called Great Mysteries of the Unexplained.

    "The 'evil eye' is one of the world's oldest superstitions, with many examples dating back to the tiem of the Ancient Egyptians. It is also one of the most unusual curses, for it can be cast only by those who themselves possess the vil eye and, remarkably, it is usually cast unintentionally. The evil eye can place a curse on almost anything, from children and livestock to crops and property." QUOTE GMotU

    I used to study Roslyn D'Onston Stephenson years ago and I remembered he wrote about the Evil Eye. He said he learned it from a witch who could paralyze men with one look. If I didn't know he plagiarized his story or made it up, I realize his Evil Eye Story couldn't be true because that's not how the Evil Eye is supposed to work anyway. Time to give this a once over with the Bull's Horns!

  • #2
    Here's Roslyn on the Evil Eye from Borderlands April 1896.

    A quick search turns up references to the Evil Eye in a couple of Lytton's books. I haven't looked yet and I don't know if anyone has before.

    IV.-IN ITALY. THE EVIL EYE.
    When engaged in the Italian War of Independence in 1860, I visited a place called La Cava, a few miles from Salerno. While taking some food in a trattoria, I saw an excited crowd rush past the door, following an old peasant woman, who was evidently flying for her life from as ugly-looking a lot of ruffians-principally lazzaroni-as the whole kingdom of the Two Sicilies could produce. I bolted out into the street, and after the crowd ; and being, after a few months' campaigning, in magnificent wind and condition, soon overtook the fellows. They were shouting mal' occh' ! and Mort' ! (the Neapolitans never by any chance finishing a word), by which they meant " The Evil Eye " and ' Death to her ! '

    I congratulated myself on being again in luck, as I had heard a great deal in Southern Italy of the mal' occhio, but had never been fortunate enough hitherto to come across one. So I easily outstripped the crowd, the old woman racing along like a greyhound. As I got within about ten or a dozen yards of her she caught her foot and fell. I then stopped, faced about to the gang of pursuers ; and, drawing my revolver, halted the lot in an instant. Cowards to the backbone, none of them liked to be the six men who would infallibly " lose the number of their mess " from the rapid fire of that unerring barrel, and they did nothing but stand and jabber, while the old woman sat up in the middle of the road glaring at them. At last one of them on the extreme flank, thinking that I did not see him, picked up a sharp stone and hurled it with all its force at the old woman. I turned sharply to see if it had hit her; meaning, in that case, to shoot that fellow-at all events-where he stood.

    PARALYSED BY A GLANCE.
    The stone had missed its aim ; and the old hag (for she looked like a veritable Moenad just then) had sprung to her feet and was standing pointing with a shaking fore-finger at her assailant, and staring straight in his face : her eyes verily seeming to shoot forth fire.

    A yell of horror and rage broke from the crowd when the man fell to the ground as though smitten by lightning. Then a reaction set in, and they all bolted back to La Cava at an even quicker rate than they came, shrieking out cries of dismay and terror, and leaving their comrade on the ground. I went up to him-he was not dead, as I at first thought ; but he was helplessly, hopelessly paralysed : it was a case of ''right hemiplegia.'' I dragged him to the side of the road, out of the way of passing vehicles, and went up to the old woman.

    I said, " Well, mother, you've punished that scoundrel properly ! " She replied, " Ah ! signor, I could have killed him if I had wanted, but I never take life now." I thought she was a old customer, but as I wanted some more information, I offered to see her in safety to her home. She seemed overpowered by gratitude, and consented.

    IN THE WITCH'S CAVE.
    In a short time we arrived at one of the numerous caves in the mountain side, where she said she lived. She added-" All the province know where Matta, the witch of La Cava lives, but they dare not molest me here." I went in and sat down and talked with her. She told me that she lived by telling the fortunes of the country-girls, and selling them charms and philtres to win the affections of their lovers; and I shrewdly suspected that she dabbled a little in poisons; and that, when a jealous husband became too obnoxious, old Matta furnished the means of his removal.

    I examined her medicaments and tested her fortune-telling powers ; and found that the first were useless and the second did not exist. But her knowledge of poisons was wide and profound, and her power of "the evil eye " was real.

    THE GREEN OINTMENT.
    At last I startled her. I said, " Show me the green ointment !" She did not go pale-her mahogany face could not accomplish that feat-but she trembled violently, and clasping her hands together in supplication, said, " No ! Signor, no ! " However, I soon made her produce it, in a little ancient gallipot about the size of a walnut. I asked her if she made it herself, or who supplied her with it. She acknowledged to the manufacture, and then I quietly told her what she made it from, and how she prepared it. Of course, I simply knew all this from the books of "black magic" I had studied under Lytton. Hermetics have to learn all the practices of "the forbidden art " to enable them to combat and overcome the devilish machinations of its professors. When she found that I knew more than she did, she was in a paroxysm of terror ; and I really believe that she thought she was at last standing face to face with her master-Satan. I put the gallipot, carefully stopped, in my pocket and left her.

    I need scarcely say that, in the experiments I subsequently made with it, I never tried it on a human being. But I found that all that was recorded of it was true : that the slightest smear of it on the fifth pair of nerves (above the eyes) gave a fatal power to the glance when so determined by the will ; and, on various occasions, I have killed dogs, cats, and other animals as by an electric shock in this manner.

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    • #3
      Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii
      BOOK THE FIRST

      2. Chapter II (continued) Each of the young men, in saluting the new-comer, made mechanically, and with care to conceal it from him, a slight gesture or sign with their fingers; for Arbaces, the Egyptian, was supposed to possess the fatal gift of the evil eye.

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      • #4
        I read the Bulwer-Lytton references to the Evil Eye and, although his characters might misread it, the author himself does not misuse the concept like Roslyn does.

        Zanoni by Edward Bulwer Lytton - Page 352 - 1842

        CHAPTER IX.
        Think not my magic wonders wrought by aid Of Stygian angels summoned up ... "But whence came the irresistible desires of that wild and unholy knowledge? I knew them not till thine evil eye fell upon me, and I was drawn into the magic atmosphere of thy being!"

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        • #5
          PARALYZED BY A GLANCE

          The stone had missed its aim ; and the old hag (for she looked like a veritable Moenad just then) had sprung to her feet and was standing pointing with a shaking fore-finger at her assailant, and staring straight in his face : her eyes verily seeming to shoot forth fire.

          A yell of horror and rage broke from the crowd when the man fell to the ground as though smitten by lightning. Then a reaction set in, and they all bolted back to La Cava at an even quicker rate than they came, shrieking out cries of dismay and terror, and leaving their comrade on the ground. I went up to him-he was not dead, as I at first thought ; but he was helplessly, hopelessly paralysed : it was a case of ''right hemiplegia.'' I dragged him to the side of the road, out of the way of passing vehicles, and went up to the old woman.

          I said, " Well, mother, you've punished that scoundrel properly ! " She replied, " Ah ! signor, I could have killed him if I had wanted, but I never take life now."


          Whatever the witch had here is not anything like the conventional "Evil Eye". The Evil Eye is passive and seemingly innocuous. It's associated with the vice of Envy. It's not aggressive at all compared to Greed or Wrath. It's more like Sloth if anything. I think that is why they call it Evil because otherwise no one would know that it was bad since you don't see a direct harmful action taking place or potentially taking place like stealing for Greed and violence for Anger. Bulwer-Lytton had the right idea but Roslyn D'Onston played it up and the name of it plays into the stereotype he's helping create and perpetuate.

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          • #6
            San Fran:

            I remember you located the reference to the 'witch in the cave' many moons ago when we were investigating RDS's written output. One book he drew from, if my memory serves me, was the 1871 Bulwer-Lytton book, The Coming Race.
            To Join JTR Forums, Contact :
            Howard@jtrforums.com

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
              San Fran:

              I remember you located the reference to the 'witch in the cave' many moons ago when we were investigating RDS's written output. One book he drew from, if my memory serves me, was the 1871 Bulwer-Lytton book, The Coming Race.
              I think you found the ones in The Coming Race and in Haggard. I found one in Last Days of Pompeii. Roslyn stole some of the character and the setting from Pompeii. I never looked into the Evil Eye action part of it at the time. It appears to come from Roslyn's imagination or from some other author. Lytton only seems to allude to the "Evil Eye" in Pompeii and Zanoni. Even in Zanoni, it seems he has Zanoni deny it's a demonic power or even supernatural. I think it's natural and supernatural, mutant sort of like X-Men but not like Cyclops as Roslyn depicts it. Obviously you don't need to look at someone to curse them. This would be inadvertent according to the true literature.

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              • #8
                Maybe Roslyn knew something I didn't. The moral versus the natural evil eye. Or it explains his "misconception" (my description) as a Protestant bias:

                Writers in the 19th century and earlier recognized two forms of the Evil Eye -- the moral and the natural -- corresponding roughly to our own psychoanalytic distinctions of conscious and unconscious. A "moral" incident of the Eye occurs when a malicious individual consciously hexes another, as in witchcraft or sorcery. This seems to be the only form recognized in Protestant countries since the Reformation. Considering Protestantism's concern with free will and its generally dismal view of human nature, perhaps this isn't surprising. To a sober, emotionally controlled Protestant mind, the notion of an unconscious part of itself, beyond the exercise of will, presents an insidious and unacceptable paradox. Yet this is the distinguishing characteristic of a "natural" evil eye. For people of Mediterranean origin -- Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Moslems alike -- the notion of the "natural" Eye doesn't seem at all unnatural. Man's dual nature -- between angel and devil -- is taken for granted. One ancient story motif, found from the eastern Mediterranean to Mexico, tells of an unfortunate father who is possessed of an evil eye and finally blinds himself to avoid afflicting his children. The Italian word jettadore designates someone who, with the mildest of motives, nevertheless casts an evil eye. By all accounts, to be a jettadore is an incurable state, unmitigated by either wealth or high office. A Renaissance pope named Pio Nono was a well-known jettadore before whom the most devout Catholics knelt and received blessings while simultaneously pointing index and little finger to ward off his neutron-bomb gaze. Sometimes a person with the Evil Eye can be recognized by a squint or strangely shaped pupil. Many Greeks are suspicious of people with blue eyes, while Northern Europeans have traditionally looked askance at dark eyes, such as gypsies might flash. Those afflicted by the Evil Eye have been known to have died in extreme instances.
                https://www.washingtonpost.com/archi...=.e8e4d491e8ab

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                • #9
                  Speaking of a Protestant bias, I was listening to Coast to Coast AM and the guest and the host were talking about the "devil sign" used by celebrities. It's often called an Illuminati sign.

                  The Protestant view is that the one making the sign is the "caster" of the evil or it's promoter. The previous prevailing non-Protestant view was that the maker of the sign is warding off the evil, namely envy, to which celebrities would be subject. It's not per se a "Devil's sign". Although to ward off the evil eye, you're supposed to point it at the one with it.

                  https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C...30.qatHkeJxeZU

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
                    The malocchia ( evil eye ) story is also found in Borderland ( 1896) written by Stephenson and found in the Pall Mall Gazette.

                    Stephen has this story on Casebook. Just enter "Borderland" into Casebook's search function and take it from there.
                    https://www.jtrforums.com/showthread.php?t=2019&page=2

                    Roslyn D'Onston's depiction of the Evil Eye appears to be an incorrect and highly dramatized portrayal. He has the witch kill people or paralyze them with a look. That's actually not how the Evil Eye is supposed to work. It's actually passive and hardly noticeable. People don't even know they have it or got victimized or that that's the reason for their misfortune. So that should have been a dead giveaway right off the bat.

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                    • #11
                      The Serial Killer Classics depict Serial Killers with the basis of the Evil Eye. Coveting in Silence of the Lambs and Envy in Seven. A case could be made for the basis of Buffalo Bill, Ed Gein, exhibiting this trait, even without the so-called lazy eye, which I think is really just his droopy eye.

                      Ed Gein was shunned by his peers and his mother demonized male genitals as "the curse of man" while grabbing them and made him promise to be a virgin forever. I think she unconsciously encouraged it.

                      In German, it is called "böser Blick", literally "evil gaze". Wikipedia

                      I like the term baleful gaze.

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