The concept of the “evil eye” can be traced back through antiquity and through cultures around the world, causing an array of talismans that guard against this harm-inducing gaze to flourish. The eye symbol can first be linked all the way back to the Egyptians, wherein its earliest incarnation it was a symbol represented by a point within a circle and was associated with the Pole Star and taken as a reminder of the Eternal, of the unchangeable as time carries on. To the Egyptians, the eye was not considered to be just a passive organ of sight - it is an agent of action, protection or wrath. The talisman “eye of Horus”, also known as Wedjat, was significant to the Egyptians and represents their deity Horus, whose left eye was gouged out in a fight for the throne after his father Osiris’s death. His eye was restored by another deity, which Horus then offered to his dead father Osisris, in hopes of bringing him back. The symbol of the eye of Horus thus symbolizes sacrifice, healing and protection.

The versions of the “evil eye” that are more familiar would apply to the idea of a sort of sickness caused by an envious, jealous or covetous look, or even by praise; in this respect, many evil eye talismans are intended to ward off, deflect or reflect the so-called “evil eye”. Originating as a Semitic and Indo-European concept, the notion of the evil eye can be first traced to ancient Sumer, from which its spread radiated outwards through India, Spain and Portugal, Britain, Scandinavia, and North Africa. It spread into the Americas and other corners of the world with the arrival of European colonists and immigrants from Middle Eastern cultures. 

Interestingly, the origins of the concept are tied in to beliefs in water equating to life, and dryness to death; the “evil” done by the evil eye is that is causes living things to dry up. As such, the evil eye was considered most dangerous to babies, children and their nursing mothers; animals that were milked; fruit trees; and men, whose ability to father children could be lost. It is because of the rarity of blue and green colored eyes in the cultures of the evil eye’s most fervent believers, in addition to a variation in culture wherein perhaps no harm was seen in, say, praising a child, that many of these light eyed persons were considered to be bearers of the evil eye and the reason why evil eye talismans and amulets are frequently seen with a blue or sometimes green eye.

 From those more specific roots, the evil eye has come to represent the fear of the destructive energies brought about by negative emotions, and the talismans as a protection thereof. There are a bounty of methods for protection from the evil eye, expressed by cultures around the world. Interestingly, however, this concept never quite pervaded the east – China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, etc – but, that doesn’t mean that they don’t also parlay significance to the eyes. Read more here.