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Vasilikis S. Vasilopoulos-The Orthodox Understanding of Vaskania, or the "Evil Eye"

Vasilikis S. Vasilopoulos-The Orthodox Understanding of Vaskania, or the "Evil Eye"

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Published by SymeonM33
Translated from Greek. A brief, simple yet concise treatise explaining the difference between the Orthodox Patristic & Scriptural understanding of vaskania ("evil eye")--as envy and the evil that people driven by envy do--and the superstitious understanding--the belief that an evil person can harm the one envied with his gaze alone--which, of course, the Church doesn't believe. The Prayer against Vaskania and St. Basil the Great's 3 Exorcism Prayers are included at the end of the treatise.
Translated from Greek. A brief, simple yet concise treatise explaining the difference between the Orthodox Patristic & Scriptural understanding of vaskania ("evil eye")--as envy and the evil that people driven by envy do--and the superstitious understanding--the belief that an evil person can harm the one envied with his gaze alone--which, of course, the Church doesn't believe. The Prayer against Vaskania and St. Basil the Great's 3 Exorcism Prayers are included at the end of the treatise.

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The Orthodox Understanding of Vaskania
1
 
or the “Evil Eye”
 
Vasilikis S. Vasilopoulos
The Meaning of “Vaskania”
 
The word
“vaskania,” or the evil eye
(
Βασκανία
,
μάτιασμα
 
ή
κακό μάτι
)
is ancient and comes from the
ancient Greek verb, “
vaskaino
(
), which originally meant
envy
and
“I
hurt someonemotivated by envy.
” T
hen the verb was extended to
mean “malign
,
 
“denigrate
,
 
insult someone
 because slanderers and insulters are above all malignant and envious people. It goes without saying thatthe damage proceeding from envy manifests upon the victim with a visible action such as a beating, theft,injury, murder (physical or moral), slander, and generally every other harm that comes from backbiting orwhichever action of the envious person.
The Apostle Paul uses the verb “evaskanen”
(
ἐβάσκανεν)
 
withthe same concept (Gal. 3:1). St. Paul was saying that some envious enemy of his and his work hadpersuaded the Galatians to depart from the Christian faith by using slanders and perverted teachings thathe presented as genuinely Christian. This resulted in harming them in the matter of their salvation. This isalso why vaskania means envy or evil proceeding from some crafty act of an envious person inecclesiastical language.
Here, let‟s remember the famous phrase “ill fate”
(
βάσκανος
 
μοίρα
)
which is often said about unpleasantsituations (illness, death, misfortune, etc.). This phrase is not Christian and is not appropriate on the lips
of true Christians who naturally do not believe in the ancient pagan “Divine Chance,” nor fate, destiny or “kismet.”
2
Christians only believe in the one, true Triune God and trust in His providence. However, theabove phrase helps us understand that vaskania is a negative act and energy in the
men‟s life
and it comesfrom envy, jealousy, malice and the harmful power and impact of contrary persons, either physical orspiritual, i.e. humans or demons. Through the
Church‟s teachings, we know
 
the Devil is man‟s envious
and baskanos enemy above all, and then his co-workers; demons and humans. This is why the Churchrenders every evil that happens to the direct or indirect energy or impact of the devil. For only good and
 beneficial gifts proceed from God. Our Gospel explicitly confirms this: “
Every good gift and everyperfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights
” (Ja. 1:17).
 Thus, some indications that could be made about vaskania are:1)
 
Vaskania does not depend on us or
more correctly, the “victim” of vaskania, namely, the person
who underwent vaskania. Rather, it comes from other people whether voluntarily or involuntarily.2)
 
In many cases, we don‟t know much about it; about how it is for 
med and manifested and aboutthe sources of its origin.3)
 
The prayers of the Church which are listed at the end of this booklet are our only way of protection and defense.
Misinterpretations of Vaskania
From the times of antiquity, vaskania has been connecte
d with what we now call “the evil eye”
(
μάτιασμα
 
ή
κακό μάτι
).
Today, when we hear the word v
askania we immediately comprehend “evileye” and nothing else.
Vaskania
 — 
the belief that an evil person can harm the one envied with his gazealone
 — 
is an old superstition. Of course, this
is not correct and our Church doesn‟t accept this belief.
 
Certainly our Church has prayers that mention “βάζαλνλ
 
νθαικόλ” (Evil Eye). These
references areeasily explained but also need caution to avoid misunderstandings. Th
e phrase “βάζαλνο νθαικόο”
(envious eye) comes from Holy Scripture
3
and means the envious person; evil, uncharitable and ruthless
(Prov. 23:6). Whereas the opposite phrase, “αιό κάη”
(good eye) means the good person, merciful, etc.
(Prov. 22:9). Let‟s
not forget that in ancient Greek, the eye is also called
ὄςο
(opsis). As well, in Holy
Scriptues “κάη” (eye), ὄςο
(opsis),
νθαικόο
(ophthalmos), and
εἶδνο (eidos)
 
are also called man‟s
appearance, his appearance, and the whole man. Firstly, it means the envious man when he sees his victimand envies him; this is the root of evil that could follow. Therefore, this envious eye,
ν
 
βάζαλνονθαικόο
, is undesirable to everything. Subsequently, the phrase was extended to humans who, assubordinates of Satan, dealt with magic, divination, conjurations, and everything related. And this eye of 
theirs is vaskanos and undesirable. Finally, the misanthropic devil‟s envious intrigue is also called“βάζαλνο νθαικόο” (envious eye); figuratively of course.
 Our
Church on the one hand doesn‟t accept the evil eye and on the other hand, it
is referred to in itsprayers against vaskania. This is not a contradiction but rather a separation of two different things. Theso-called Christians who do their cross but then run to conjurations and magic are in contradiction andconfusion. The Church understands vaskania as envy and the evil people do driven by envy. This evilcould be a harmful act, a slander, a curse, a demonic energy or influence. The Church does not accept thatthe simple look of a man can magically cause evil to someone else from a distance. In his Interpretation of 
Galatians, St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite characteristically writes that St. Paul uses “the
word vaskanias
and envy,” not because envy itself has
 
such power to effect these things,” but because the people harming
the Galatians
 — 
and generally their fellow man
 —were driven “by their envy and vaskania.” Thus some
harmful human or demonic energy required mediation. This is why the following superstitions areunacceptable for people of the Church: the belief that someone is vaskanos just because he was born on acertain day; or because he has certain special characteristics on his face; or that one is particularly proneto vaskania
 —i.e. he can easily “have
 
the eye put on him”— 
or he can feel sick and indisposed because
someone supposedly “put the eye on him” and other such nonsense.
 Consequently, we will not make any reference to the so-
called “μεκάηαζκα” made by lay people (such as
invocations, hand gestures, beads, etc.) to supposedly remove vaskania. These lay people empirically
learn these things from others and empirically apply them and no one knows the “how” or the “why;”since the origin of this “μεκάηαζκα”
is obscure and uncertain. This empirical w
ay of curing the “evileye” is called “μεκάηαζκα”
 
and has no relation with the Church‟s teaching. It evidently comes from
undetermined folk and ancient idolatrous beliefs and practices; this is why it is unacceptable. These pagan
residues have no place amongst Christians, nor do they honour our modern “progressive” era. They are
manifestations of ignorance, unbelief and paganism.In wanting to help her members, the Church behaved with much condescension and included wordsrelating to vaskania in her prayers; but the Church gave these words the correct meaning. Unfortunately,many times the erroneous folk belief prevails and is imposed, thereby slowly altering the genuineOrthodox doctrine. The common folk are right in this point only: their conviction that vaskania ismanifested by either envy and jealousy or malice and hate and generally from negative feelings for some
 person. Here, the phrase “Bless and do not curse” (Rom. 12:14) could be cited because vaskania has some
of its roots, if not all, linked with the spirit of cursing, the spirit of evil that always comes from the wickeddevil.
 
The ancient idolatrous peoples and many people today, not only named calumny, envy and slandervaskania, but even the evil that they thought it could cause someone with only a simple look. The latter iscertainly a superstition and, as already mentioned, it is not accepted by the Church. But we will nowexamine here the viewpoint of the ancient idolater and their contemporary remnants.Many ancient Greeks
 — 
Aristotle, Democritus, Plutarch
 — 
dealt with vaskania and undertook to give a
 psychological interpretation to this phenomena because they believed that “βάζαλνο νθαικόο” (the evil
eye) had the power to assail all animate beings, but especially people who were distinguished in beauty,spiritual qualifications, progress, and successes in general. They also believed that vaskania even hitsinanimate objects. Children were considered the easiest victims of vaskania and it was believed that many
times the “evil eye” made them suffer and they had
been put under the spell particularly when the parents
didn‟t know the cause.
 
The Orthodox View
The Church considers vaskania
 — 
with the meaning of a look alone can magically have a deleteriousimpact from a distance (which can sometimes also be linked by some word or inner thought of admirationor envy)
 — 
a superstition. The ecclesiastical writers and Church Fathers did not deny real vaskania;namely envy and the harmful energy that emanates from it. Particularly, they attach the cases of vaskaniathat have no apparent origins to the influence of demonic energy. In general, they regarded vaskania asthe work of the devil and an act of envy. St. Basil the Great wrote a t
reatise called “Concerning Envy andVaskania.”
 
In St. Basil‟s exorcisms, we find the
 
 phrase, “
Who shall bind you that dares with envy to plotagainst His image (
 
δεζκεύσλ
 
άληαο
 
ηνὺο
 
βαζαίλνληαο
 
αὶ
 
ἐβνπιεύνληαο ηῇ
 
αὐηνῦ
 
εἰόλ).
 The Church also composed a special prayer against vaskanias, in the sense of envy. This prayer is used in
dispensation for people who think they or a loved one have been “given the eye.” The Church also hasother prayers that mention protection from “βάζαλν νθαικό,” namely,
the envious person, as we willsee below.We also see that vaskania means envy to the Apostle Paul. He writes to the Galatians
SenselessGalatians! Who then bewitched(
=envied and deceived) you not to obey the truth?
” (3:1). In his
Epistle to the Romans, St. Ignatius of Antioch condemns
vaskania, writing: “
Let notenvy
(βαζαλία
) finda dwelling-place among you
” (7:2).
 The subject of vaskania from the Orthodox perspective has been clarified with everything mentioned and
explained thus far. It also explains the expressions such as “vaskania
 
can be fatal in some cases”: itdoesn‟t mean that someone can kill someone else with his look. This is a
senseless, magical, pagan and
unchristian perception because then half the earth‟s population could have been killed without war, crime
and murder weapons. But it is understood that in some cases, the person who envies and hates his fellowman is able to exterminate him bodily. Almost always, the envious person tries to exterminate his victimethically-psychically. This is why the vaskanos and envious d
evil is principally named “man slayer” and“misanthropic.”
 
Means of Protection

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