In this day of modern science and technology, you would think that old wives tales, myths and legends told by our grandparents and their parents would be things of the past. But, I have found that there is so much known about the unknown, especially in matters that come to Italian witchcraft and spells.
Yes, you read it correctly…witchcraft. I grew up in an Italian family where these traditions are still thriving. In fact, many Italians today continue to believe and I have found a huge following of these beliefs throughout all of Italy but especially prevalent in Rome and further South. Ironic isn’t it? Rome, the capital of Catholicism, is still entrenched with medieval and pagan traditions to ward off evil and how to remove or cast spells, in particular, the Malocchio or Evil Eye.
Malocchio, in literal terms, means bad (mal) eye (occhio). It is a longstanding traditional spell thought to influence the lives of people by casting looks of bad thoughts or envy. The evil eye giver either does this intentionally or involuntary, with the latter being the most popular in order for their “victim” to experience sickness, misfortune or loss of property and/or money. I know a lot about this because you see, I have been a victim myself, having had the evil eye cast on me, several times. How do I know? I had all the signs: sickness without reason or cause, misfortune, bad luck and downright misery. Nothing I did helped to ease all this influx of bad tidings following me and entering my home. So, I did what every good Italian girl would do...I called my mom. Thankfully, my mother is very familiar with the malocchio; she can recognize it but more importantly, remove it.
So, one night, we began the ritual. The bowl of water with the olive oil drops. I had to look away so that the evil does not bounce back on me as my mother observed the oil and water mixing. Then, she began her quiet chant and suddenly, she exclaimed, “YOU HAVE IT! SEVEN WOMEN AND THREE MEN GAVE IT TO YOU!”
Seven women and three men… wtf? Well, that could be anybody! It could have been the cashier at the supermarket or maybe my friend’s cousin or her husband…anyone! But, with the malocchio, the acknowledgement of who cast the spell is sometimes enough to remove it, but in my case, since there were so many, it wasn’t and my mother had to continue with the ritual. She restarted chanting a prayer as she continued with the drops of oil in the water. Then, she took matches and burned the evil eye in the bowl…some use scissors or a knife to go through, the eye and I think it depends on what part of Italy the family is from but the idea is all the same …kill the eye and remove the spell. After killing the eye, she took a wine bottle outside and smashed it, spilling it all over my driveway, “for extra protection” she stated along with instructions to my husband to clean up the wine for the wine needed to be washed away from our home.
Right about now, you may be thinking how kooky all this is but truth be told, after all was said and done, the headache and nausea I had for a solid week immediately lightened up and was completely gone within two hours. Issues that were happening in my house were fixed or resolved and my son won $50 bucks off a lottery ticket…all within that same day. Coincidence? Maybe, but the timing of it all leaves one to wonder. Yes, I am one of those that hold some belief in it, only because of past experiences through me and other family members. So, while I wait for Christmas eve, the only day that one is allowed to learn it so that I could carry on the tradition in my family, I will keep wearing the Italian horn or devil’s tooth on my chain, ensure that salt is located in the four corners of my home and bless my children with red amulets for them to carry for their protection. Oh, and it’s OK if you don’t believe, just don’t let me catch you looking at me, I know how to give it too!