The health benefits of olive oil are well documented – from protecting the heart to preventing skin cancer and so much more. But were you aware of the role olive oil plays in warding off the Evil Eye?
This fascinating notion of the evil eye dates back to ancient times, and is still an integral part of many cultures in the Middle East, West Africa, Central America, Asia and the Mediterranean; and as a consequence, it is woven into all the major religions – Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Christian Orthodox. Some theorize that Alexander the Great was partially responsible for disseminating the idea of the ‘evil eye’ – the concept spreading east in parallel with his empire.
The evil eye is believed to cause bad luck, injuries, and even death. Sometimes it is done unintentionally, simply the result of jealousy or dislike of the victim. Various amulets and talisman are used to ward off the evil eye; these come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – blue eyes, disks and balls which are worn on the person or kept on their property. They can also be seen on the prows of many Mediterranean boats – the staring eyes are meant to deflect the wicked gaze back onto the perpetrator.
The test used to confirm if the evil eye has been cast is performed by placing one drop of olive oil in a glass of water, generally holy water. Of course under normal conditions the olive oil will float, but if the drop sinks, then the evil eye has been cast.
Those among the ancient Romans and the civilisations they conquered, who found themselves without the safeguard of their protective amulet would utilise rude sexual hand gestures to avoid the evil eye – interestingly, while the original meaning may have been all but lost, many of these gestures are still in use today.