The famous Greek Mati or the evil eye is one of the most imporant symbols in Greek folklore.
It has a long history and you can find various types of evil eye gifts online or in Greek souvenir shops.
There is no way that you have never seen it on various souvenirs if you ever walked in a Greek tourist area.
Mati meaning and symbolism of these evil eye gifts
So what does the evil eye mean?
Evil Eye (Kako Mati in Greek) is the belief that some individuals have the “power” to give a certain type of stare to other people (not necessarily on purpose) that makes the others “sick”.
It is a glare - curse. Mysterious energy that comes against you from another persons eyes.
It can be the result of great admiration (or jealousy) - so especially beautiful women or cute kids are the “victims” of the evil eye.
The Evil eye on various artifacts (like charms or jewelry) is supposed to absorb this negative and evil energy, so it makes a great gift.
The evil eye symbol protects from the evil eye curse - like an invisible shield!
There is a twist: according to tradition, you can be affected by the evil eye only if you believe in the existence of the evil eye!
Evil Eye symptoms:
Here is a list of the most common "Evil Eye Symptoms"
- Sudden headache
- Short breath
- Unexplained yawning
So If you have any of the above symptoms after someone told you “you look great today”, Greeks will automatically say that you got the evil eye!
Evil Eye protection and “therapy”
Don't panic: Greek folklore has figured out ways to protect yourself from the evil eye and has a method to get rid of it in case you got it!
a) Evil Eye Prevention:
In Greek tradition there is a consensus: Evil eye charms (found in typical kitschy evil eye merch) are the main way to go to protect yourself from the evil eye!
But there are also other DIY methods someone can implement to protect himself from an evil eye curse:
For example imperfect clothes like different colored socks, or missing buttons on a shirt, or any differentiation from perfect looks can lead to less admiration - therefore less chances to get the evil eye.
Also a bad smell can help, like garlic in your pocket. Or even a small smudge with charcoal behind the ear can help, too!
Generally the idea is to have something that in the end distracts the admiration and absorbs the look given to you.
b) Evil Eye "Therapy":
There is also a secret process that helps you get rid of the evil eye in case you got it.
Mainly older women know a secret spell that will relieve the symptoms.
Such an evil eye expert is depicted in the above picture!
A fun fact is that the process works also via telephone, so you can call a Greek granny (yiayia) to help you out from a distance!
Evil Eye History
The symbol dates at least back to the bronze age, about 1250 B.C. in Ancient Syria and it was generally known through history mainly across the eastern Mediterranean.
It can be traced back to Greek classical antiquity (6th c.BC) as archaeological findings show.
It was depicted in various drinking vessels found in Athens and Chaliks, known as “eye cups”.
(picture from wikipedia)
It was a pagan symbol and the cups were used for drinking while having evil-averting properties.
The superstition survived through the centuries and is still a common belief in Greece.
Even the Greek Orthodox church supports the existence of such a phenomenon (they call it “Vaskania”) and they provide special prayers to help!
Modern Evil Eye Design
If all this does not make any sense to you, don’t worry you are not alone.
In the end the Evil eye is a fantastic design that can be used as a modern reference to history.