Malocchio :The Evil Eye

Many cultures have their own version of the Evil Eye, what it means and how to deal with it. I grew up in an Italian house-hold. When I say I’m an Italian I really mean it. My mother and father are both immigrants that came here as preteens. So the Italian culture, superstitions, and traditions are not just something that I heard about in conjecture. It was stuff that I spent my life steeped in.

You’ve probably seen these hanging in an Italians Car, house, locker, or keys. These two charms ward off the Evil Eye as well. You can also make the gesture with your own hand to ward of the Evil Eye, however it is deemed as rude gesture as well. So do it behind their back of after they leave the room. I have on on a table in our bedroom. They say it only wards off the Evil Eye if it’s gifted to you, so you can’t buy one for yourself really.

It’s the only thing I can think of growing up that was so full of… magic? The Malocchio (Mahl-oak-yo) was something that was often warned of. My grandmother would always tell me to make sure nobody gave me the eye. If I told her good news she would make that hand gesture to make sure nobody could spoil it. Malocchio can be done accidentally too. It is something powered by Envy or Jealousy.

A comedic scene from a movie, somebody going ABOVE AND BEYOND with way to get rid of Malocchio {Poorly translated at the bottom}

Somebody can give you Malocchio either intentionally or unintentionally, which makes it an unusual curse. The idea being that they could make you lose things or opportunities, get sick, unlucky, overly goofy, or just plain cursed. There are various ways to give somebody Malocchio. One way is to purposefully do some black magic. The other way is if somebody is jealous of you, they may give you the look. I attribute to something akin to the “stank face” or “evil glare”. Just a malevolent thought or look. It might even be a lie boldly told to your face.

This is what I imagined Malocchio to be when I was a kid.

Growing up, I would get the occasional headaches and my grandmother would perform the Malocchio remedy. After she was done she would tell me to go lay down quietly for a little bit. Shortly after she would do it, my headaches would seemingly go away. It could have very well been that it was psychosomatic and I only felt better because I BELIEVED it worked. It could also be that a lot of jealous kids went to my elementary school and I was getting the Evil Eye.

I spent my entire life thinking that that’s all it was for. If you had a headache that couldn’t be cured by an Advil, then I would do Malocchio for you and it would always seem to do the trick. I remember when I worked at the airport I had a friend ask me if I’d heard of it. She asked:
“Do you know anybody that knows how to get rid of Malocchio?”
Without even thinking I blurted out, “I know how to do it.”
“Would you do it for me?”

I had never DONE it before, I’d only had it done on me. I’d had it done so many times though, that I knew the process.

“I would” I replied unsure, ” but I don’t have the supplies…”
“What do you need?”
“Extra virgin olive oil, salt, water, a knife, and bowl. I think that’s it…”

Like any good Italian, she had all those things in her office at work. I followed her to her office and I performed the Malocchio remedy on her. The next day she messaged me and thanked me. I did it. Recently when talking to my mother we discussed that it could have more symptoms than just headaches. Basically anything negative happening could be attributed to Malocchio.

Without saying anything in the moment, I decided I would try doing it on myself. Maybe my recent lapse with terrible anxiety was caused by Malocchio. I performed it on myself. It had been almost 10 years since I’d done it for my friend at the Airport. I hadn’t had it done for probably a decade or more before then. It’s not something that comes up regularly.

I tried to remember the list of things I needed. Once I laid them out in front of me I remembered how to do it all. I won’t bore you with all the details, plus I’m not sure on the whole etiquette of discussing the procedure. I don’t know if you call it a spell, a ceremony, or a placebo. All I know is there’s a lot of praying to God, so it seems religion in practice and it’s usually works.

The basic idea is you have a bowl of water and you drip oil from your finger. If the oil in the water does in fact look like an Evil Eye, than you KNOW that you’ve been cursed. You repeat it all 3 times praying and trying to remove the curse. Then, the recipient can go relax for a little while and see if they feel different.

Somebody doing Malocchio. You see oil dripping into the bowl of water.

Call me crazy, when the oil hit the water it looked like an angry eye looking right at me. The lighting in the kitchen made it’s shadow cast a second eye. It looked like a full evil glare in a bowl. Could very well have been just oil in water, but to me, it looked legit in the moment. I have yet to have another wave of anxiety hit me. The ringing in my ear also hasn’t happened since.

I called my mother yesterday to tell her that I did it to myself. She asked my steps and seemed proud that I remembered them. She recommended I do it two more times to get another THREE going. She asked how I felt. I gave her my honest opinion. “Ma, I don’t know if it’s all in my head. Either way it made me feel better. I haven’t had any issues yet.”

She basically agreed with me. She can’t say it’s real and that’s what happening but she also can’t say it’s not real either.

So whether you believe in it or not, I thought I would share an inside look at the magic I’ve learned being steeped in the Italian culture. I am by no means advocating this as a viable way to deal with anxiety. It was merely a step on MY path to peace this year. A tradition I often think of but seldom discuss. If you have any more questions feel free to ask away, and I will do my best to answer them. You can google the steps on how to do Malocchio as well. Different regions seem to have slightly different methods but the overall idea is the same. If you have any traditions like this in your family or a similar concept feel free to let me know below as well.

Writing this post has me looking up so much more information about it. The history and the regional versions is very interesting if you’re into that.

Occhio, malocchio, prezzemolo e finocchio, ego me baptizo contro il malocchio. Puh! Puh!
E con il peperoncino e un po’ d’insalèta mi protegge la Madonna dell’Incoronèta;
con l’olio, il sale, e l’aceto mi protegge la Madonna dello Sterpeto;
corrrrrno di bue, latte scremèto, proteggi questa chésa dall’innominèto.

Eye, evil eye, parsley and fennel, I baptize myself against the evil eye.
Puh! Puh! [Puh! means he’s spitting]
And with the chili pepper and a little bit of salad, the Crowned Madonna protects me;
with oil, salt, and vinegar, the Madonna of Sterpeto protects me;
horrrrrn of ox, skim milk, protect the knowing one from the nameless.

{My best attempt at translating the movie poster above}

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