In many Italian regions bad luck and evil-eye are considered very important issues. I already talked about bad luck in this article: How to get rid of bad luck – Italian practices. Today I focus instead on evil-eye.
Evil-eye is an old curse known in Italy by the name of malocchio or jettatura. Evil-eye is always caused by the jealousy or envy of someone who, just staring at people, can cast the curse. You may know this person or not, but s/he certainly knows you.
The peculiarity of this curse is that it can be cast by a person both consciously – going to a “healer” and asking her to cast a fattura (spell) – or unconsciously.
For example, if you invite some friends to your place to show them your new cottage, and while visiting it, they tell you something like: “wow it’s so beautiful! You’re so lucky”, they can have unconsciously evil-eyed you. Indeed, such a compliment may mean that, deep inside them, they’re feeling envious because they would like to have a house like yours too.
A person who has been evil-eyed can experience different types of problems like bad luck, business failure, headache, diarrhea, miscarriage, marriage breakdown, weakness, and so on.
Evil-eye curse can be diagnosed and broken by going to a “healer”. One of the most common rituals is performed using water and oil.
The “healer” takes a bowl full of water. She makes the sign of the cross for three times, while mentally repeating some ritual words. Then she drops in the bowl some drops of oil. If the drops of oil enlarge, or form one large drop in the middle of the bowl, it means you have been evil-eyed.
To broke the curse there are different ways. Some “healers” repeat ritual words until the drops of oil break up into tiny droplets. Others, just throw the content of the bowl away, in an isolated place, so as not to pass the curse on to someone else. Others “healers”, instead, cut the drops of oil with some scissors while repeating ritual words.
Evil-eye can be found also in Italian literature. Pirandello, for example, wrote a comedy about it called La patente (the license). La patente is about Rosario Chiarchiaro, a man shunned by the community because he’s believed to be a jettatore (jinx). Because of this he loses his job and cannot support his family anymore. Judge D’Andrea, who doesn’t believe in evil-eye, thinks that Chiarchiaro is innocent and so decides to sue people who started to spread the calumny about Rosario Chiarchiaro. However, Chiarchiaro has other plans in mind. Indeed, he wants to be convicted of being a jettatore, so as to get an official license to practice evil-eye as a profession. In this way, he can benefit from this whole situation, asking a fee not to evil-eye people or their businesses.
Luigi Zampa also directed a movie based on some of Pirandello’s novellas called Questa è la vita. In it there is also an episode based on La patente where Rosario Chiarchiaro is played by the great Italian actor Totò.
What about you? Do you believe in evil-eye? Did you have any experience with it?