Sicilian Cunningcraft: The Malocchio

Sicilian Cunningcraft: The Malocchio

I don’t think you can discuss Sicilian Folk Magick or Cunning Craft without discussing The Malocchio.  Translation: ‘Bad/Evil Eye’.


The origin of the malocchio can be traced back over 5,000 years. The legend is believed to have begun in the region of Sumer in Mesopotamia.  Belief in an ‘evil’ eye system is known all over the world with obvious variations.  Growing up ‘first generation’ Italian in the United States did NOT disconnect us from the belief and understanding that is ‘The Malocchio’ is VERY real. What it was, how you got it and what you could do about it were all VERY specific procedures.   


So, what exactly is ‘The Evil Eye’?  The central understanding is that a person can be physically, spiritually and emotionally harmed through someone else looking at them in specific (intentional and unintentional) ways.  It is ‘bad luck’ put upon you through the jealous gaze of an individual, whether intentional or unintentional.  These spiritual attacks are known as ‘attaccatura’ and the person said to give the Malocchio is called the “jettadore” which translates to ‘thrower’. 


 Isn’t that wildly appropriate?


 The symptoms of Malocchio, as the affected person, may include headache, poor health, dropping things or accidental harm or injury. Any object affected by Malocchio may accidentally break or suddenly stop working after the recent glare or praise.  Yes, Malocchio is not only ‘thrown’ by glares and looks but can also be caused by excessive compliments or praise, especially if the praise is much more than deserved. Southern Italians will not offer a compliment without following the compliment up with a blessing or gesture – “Che Dio la benedica” or spitting in the opposite direction (without projecting saliva) three times making a sound like “PuhPuhPuh”.  This will ensure that your veneration does not curse them or create an attachment on them.  “The baby is beautiful”, will always be followed by “God Bless”.  So that you do not unintentionally give the baby the evil eye by invoking jealously.  Jealousy and envy are energetically insidious and if unaddressed, can create much havoc. 


 Have you ever been at the home of an older Italian individual and happen to compliment a plate or perhaps a glass? And they immediately said “You like it? It’s yours”.  Chances are they felt your compliment was excessive or more than deserved and they no longer want the object with your jealousy attached to it; your magic is now in their home. This is why, again, in Italy, most compliments are followed by “God bless”, to avoid giving any accidental Malocchio.


Protection against the evil eye through the use of charms and gestures is the most common way to avoid being afflicted.  The Italian Horn or “little” horn is probably the most recognizable symbol of protection from the Maloccio in Italy. Having been found in the ruins of Pompei and Rome, this symbol dates back over 2000 years.  Materials used to carve the horn include gold, silver, bone or coral. The color red gave this charm a double meaning of protection and luck.  Another charm for protection is called the Cimaruta.  These are often found as jewelry or home décor.  When all else fails, a secret hand gesture in the ‘Sign of the Horns’ will do the job when no other option is available.


 Diagnosis and cure of the Evil Eye use to be a well-guarded secret ritual and it was often done by someone in the family (or in the town), Variations of the details would depend on region and family, however, the procedure usually involved a shallow bowl, olive oil, and water.  The person performing the diagnosis and cure was generally a woman who was taught this secret family ‘recipe’ from an older family member on Christmas eve.


 This ancient magic has survived centuries.  Throughout all the conflicts and different reigning cultures, it’s interesting to note that despite whose god’s were “in charge” at any given moment in history, belief and practices surrounding The Evil Eye have endured.  The practices for protection and subsequent cures from these specific acts of jealousy and spiritual attacks are still relevant and applicable today.  When I was born three gold charms were sent from the homeland.  A cross, of course, a ‘13’ charm and a ‘little’ horn.  All of these were to protect me from the Malocchio and they have all served me well. 

Back to blog

Leave a comment