Aug. 27, 2021

Mal de Ojo (Evil Eye)

Mal de Ojo (Evil Eye)

Mal de Ojo (Evil eye) can be found pretty much around the world.

It can be found in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The belief in the Evil eye can be dated back to Ancient Ugarit (modern day Syria). The Egyptians had the Eye of Horus. Horus being a falcon headed god who lost his eye to evil. The Ancient Greeks are the ones that started using amulets for evil eye called apotropaic amulets. These amulets were used to repel evil and bad luck. The evil eye symbol we know today comes from Turkey. Called Nazar Boncugu which is the blue eye symbol. The one with the hand with an eye in the middle is called Hamsa which also comes from the Turkish culture. 

It is believed that if you are on the receiving end of the evil eye it causes injury and bad luck. It is a world wide belief. You can find evil eye references in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, North and South America. Anywhere there are people you will find some kind of belief in the evil eye. Some people believe that the evil eye is unintentional and some believe it can be done on purpose. 

It's basically the belief a look can curse you or make you sick. Symptoms include severe headaches, high fever, fretfulness, and in the case of children/infants, crying (think colicky baby).

Protection against mal de ojo

Amulets that are red  or red and black glass beaded bracelets with a blue eye painted on top are used for protection.


In Central America and some parts of Mexico, the umbilical cord of a newborn is dried and stored, to later be used to rub softly around the eyes as a cure.

In other areas in Latin America, it's believed a common jet black gemstone called azabache will protect babies from it.

In Spain, the cruz de Caravaca, a double cross, is used for protection, as well as bronze and cowbell.

In Bolivia (and other parts of Latin America too) an egg is rubbed al over the body, then broken into a cup and the cup is placed underneath the person's bed and this will absorb all the bad energy and protect against evil eye. 

The following is someone's story on mal de ojo, found on the USC Digital Folklore Archives. The person telling the story is a child of Salvadoran immigrants and is 19.

She says when she was very baby, she got really sick, she wouldn't sleep, kept crying and would throw up. Her parents took her to the doctor, but they found nothing wrong with her. Then a relative looked at the baby and said "esa niña tiene mal de ojo", this baby has the evil eye. Since they had no idea who gave it to her, they used an egg and passed it over her head, while praying el Padre Nuestro. After the 3rd time of this, the yolk broke inside and the baby was instantly better. This had also happened to the girl's tía (aunt). 

Have you been afflicted with mal de ojo?