About the nazar

Melania-Joy and I went on a winery excursion last weekend to Saint Jo in north Texas. The porch overlooking the grapevines was the kind of place that created instant camaraderie.

As the tables of strangers sat sharing the beauty of the "California vista" varied conversation flowed along with bottles of red and white, and we wound up talking about a woman's beaded necklace that included a large nazar.

Based on the design, it looked as if someone had chosen the cobalt and white glass bead as a fashion statement rather than for its significance, but I knew what it meant because a waiter in a Turkish restaurant had given me one once after I asked the meaning of the blue-glass baubles that hung over the doorways.

Sometimes called the "evil eye" it is about protection--an amulet, and the conversation about it on the wine porch made me want to read about how it came to be when I got home. (After all, I'm American.  Amulets just aren't part of my culture so they seem an interesting anomaly.)

In my reading, the part that struck me is that if someone gives you the "evil eye" (both the curse and the amulet have the same name) it is about coveting.  Envy. Wishing someone ill through jealousy.

We've all seen this look, right? The one that feels like someone hates us because we are happy or have something they want, or we appear to be privileged in some way. What is interesting to me is that ancient people believed they needed protection from that.  That another person's envious thoughts--as expressed through their eyes--could have power.

The idea of the "evil eye" is ancient from Jewish culture through Greece and Turkey.  One source I read said it is possible that Jesus references this idea when the Gospel of Matthew records his words contrasting eyes being light or eyes being evil.

While I don't feel the need for an amulet (though nazars are pretty), I do think we all need protection from "evil eye." Not from others resentment--as if we could control that--but in ourselves. Gratitude is a huge practice in eradicating envy.  As is mentally blessing others with our thoughts.

Our internal thought life with regard to others makes a huge difference in how we experience the world.  My friend, Melly-the-Rocker-Chick recently blogged about the Lily Pulitzer fat shaming cartoons.  I'm curious if the cartoons aren't an American version of an "evil eye." A woman-with-a-cubical's personal amulets to protect her from rejection by shoving that rejection onto someone else.

For me nazars are now a beautiful reminder that what we think on the inside matters. That if it is possible to curse someone with our thoughts, then we can also bless them.  And at the end of the day, that internal blessing of others creates "light in our eyes" by changing how we see.


“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!" --Jesus' words from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, vs. 22-23 (Message translation) 

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Maira Gall