Many cultures embrace the good eye as protection against the evil eye, especially the Greeks. As long as I’ve been married, my family has embraced the “eye” culture. We have an eye above the door, hanging in the rear view mirror of each car, on our clothing or necklace, and we delight in finding new versions of matia.
Early in my association with the Greek culture, I denied the superstition, but now I believe that our inner thoughts can actually hurt others. When a baby is born, gifts of eyes as jewelry are given to pin on the baby’s pillow and later on the back shoulder of the toddler’s dress. A school child will often wear a filakto (form of an eye) under the child’s clothing to ward off evil. If a filakto* or mati is not available, the mother will turn the child’s under shirt inside out or pull one sock up and one sock down as she spits on the devil three times–ftou, ftou, ftou. If a child is dressed perfectly, their appearance will attract the evil eye. The evil eye usually appears as jealousy or envy. How could you envy a person’s appearance if she is slightly askew?
If someone gets the evil eye, she may fall ill or get a headache or have an accident or have a string of bad luck events. Be protected–wear a mati!
(1 mati; 2 matia)
*filakto is a tiny cloth pouch embroidered or beaded with a cross and holding cotton touched by holy water or holy oil or even a dried flower from the epitafion (bier of Christ used during Easter services.