Italian Superstitions—The Evil Eye (Malocchio)

Photo of author

In the tapestry of Italian culture, steeped in history and tradition, superstitions weave a colorful thread through the everyday lives of many. Among these, the concept of the Malocchio, or the “evil eye,” holds a particular fascination.

The Malocchio: A Glimpse into the Italian “Evil Eye”

Deriving from the Italian words “mal” (bad) and “occhio” (eye), the Malocchio is believed to be a malevolent glare bestowed out of jealousy or envy. However, it’s not always cast with harmful intent; sometimes, it’s simply an unconscious look that carries the weight of misfortune.

This ancient belief, deeply rooted in Italian folklore, suggests that such a glance can bring adversity to the unwitting recipient. The notion of the evil eye is not exclusive to Italy; it shares common ground with other cultures around the world, including Ancient Greece. There, it was thought that certain individuals possessed the unsettling ability to cast curses merely through their gaze.

The Malocchio remains a compelling aspect of cultural lore, a testament to the enduring human fascination with the unseen forces that shape our lives.

Lucchetta - Italian Gold Horn Pendant Charm
  • 14k Pure Gold | : the precious metal authenticity is guaranteed by the goldsmith hallmark on the eyelet. The goldmark 14k Italy is stamped on its surface. NO gold plated. NO gold-filled. It's all Real Fine Gold.
  • Authentic Italian Gifts from Italy | : we produce wholly every piece of jewelry in our factory located in Vicenza near Venice. Unique item made by highly skilled craftsmen. You buy a jewel that is an expression of Italian excellence, luxury and top class quality. Certified Made in Italy products.

Facing the Malocchio: Tradition and Accusation in Sicily

In Italian, the evil eye is known as “il malocchio” or “l’occhio del male.” In Sicily, giving someone the malocchio is a serious accusation that can have dire consequences for the accused. it is believed that a person can give someone the malocchio intentionally or unintentionally. It is said to be a curse that causes misfortune, illness or bad luck, and can be inflicted by someone with an envious or jealous heart.

According to legend, the malocchio can be given by a simple glance or a negative comment, and can even be cast by someone unaware they can do so.

Many people believe that it can indeed bring bad luck to another person. Some believe that the evil eye comes from the devil. According to Italian folklore, those giving the malocchio can cause harm to someone else. Legend says it’s just another way of putting a curse on others that can cause physical pain such as head or stomach aches or even misfortune.

It’s believed that this could be done by looking into one’s eyes and making gestures like making a “V” sign with one’s index finger and thumb.

A Curse Without Borders: The Global Presence of the Evil Eye

The evil eye’s intrigue extends far beyond Italy’s borders, touching corners of the globe with its mysterious allure. Though deeply entrenched in Sicilian and broader Italian folklore, the malocchio—or the notion of a malevolent glare bringing misfortune—finds echoes in numerous cultures worldwide. Each has its unique interpretation, from el Ojo Maledicto (the cursed eye) in Latin America to the jinxed eye in China, illustrating the universal human inclination to attribute power to the gaze.

This ancient belief system, woven into the fabric of various traditions, maintains its relevance even in contemporary times, particularly within rural communities. The persistence of the malocchio in cultural consciousness underscores the rich tapestry of Italian folklore and highlights the enduring human fascination with the supernatural. It serves as a poignant reminder of how belief systems, passed down through generations, continue to shape our understanding and interaction with the world.

italian horn malocchio

Protecting Yourself from the Italian Malocchio Evil Eye Curse

How can you prevent the malocchio (often pronounced “maloik”)?

There are various ways to protect oneself from the malocchio, including carrying amulets, reciting prayers, or performing rituals. In Sicily, a malocchio prayer is said to provide protection against the curse. A trusted individual recites the prayer, often a grandmother or elder, and involves using gestures and reciting verses from the Bible.

The Malocchio Prayer: A Spiritual Shield

Here’s the malocchio prayer in English:

O Lord our God, King of the ages, omnipotent and almighty, who create all things and who, by your mere desire, transform all things; who changed into dew the seven-fold furnace and its fire in Babylon, and who kept safe your three holy children: physician and healer of our souls, haven of those who hope in You.

We beseech You and implore You; remove, banish, and expel every diabolic energy, every satanic attack and every plot, every wicked curiousity and harm, and the evil-eye of mischievous and evil-minded people from your servant(s) (N); and if anything has happened because of beauty or because of bravery or good fortune or because of jealousy and envy, Yourself, O Master, who love mankind, extend your powerful hand and your mighty and most high arm.

And as you look upon everything, look upon this (these) your creature(s), and send him (her) (them) [a] peaceful and powerful Angel(s), guardian(s) of soul and body who will reprove and expel from him (her) (them) every wicked intention, every witchcraft, and the evil-eye of ruinous and envious people, and the one(s) who supplicate(s) you as he (she) (they) is (are) protected by You, will sing to You in thanksgiving: “The Lord be my helper, and I will not fear; what will any man do to me?” and again I will not fear bad things, because you are with me; because you, O God, are my strength, a mighty ruler, leader of peace, father of the age to come.”

Yea, O Lord our God, spare your creature(s), and deliver your servant(s) from every harm and every influence caused by the evil eye, and preserve her (him) (them) higher than every evil thing; through the prayers of our all-blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and ever-Virgin Mary, of the luminous Archangels, and all the Saints. Amen.


Symbols of Protection: The Italian Horn and More

To protect themselves from the evil eye, Italians wear special rings called bracciali di protezione (protection bracelets). These are often made of silver and have a protective charm. They can be worn all day long and are considered very lucky charms.

Other Italians wear a Malocchio charm or horn (cornetto, corno, or cornicello) which resembles a chili pepper. The horns are usually made of coral, gold, or silver and are either worn as a necklace or hung in one’s home to ward off evil spirits.  This horn tradition evolved in Old Europe when the horned animal (the moon goddess) was considered sacred. Horns were used to ward off evil spirits and protect against witchcraft.

They are a culturally popular amulet and are primarily found in Italy and North America among descendants of Italian immigrants. In some instances, the corno has become a symbol of Italian pride.

T-shirts and cushion covers can also be embroidered with this pattern. Custom Keychains or Custom Pins can also be used as amulets in addition to embroidery. Capture its magical power with amulet pattern embroidery in various shades. With Patches Co.‘s patterns and quality supplies, you can easily complete your project. In addition to being colorful, fade-resistant embroidery lasts for generations.

Diagnosing the Malocchio: An Old Wive’s Tale

Besides wearing the corno, an old wive’s tale says that to diagnose someone with the evil eye, have them drop three drops of olive oil in a bowl filled with water.  If the oil forms the shape of an eye, the victim has received the malocchio.  As the oil separates from the water, make the sign of the cross and say, “In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Then make the sign of the cross on both of your hands.  As you do this, place your hands on the other person and say: “Father, this prayer is being said for (insert name of victim), and I pray it works in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Italian Horn Evil Eye

Beyond the Evil Eye: A Treasury of Italian Superstitions

The old wive’s tale states that you must repeat this prayer three times.  After that, both people must say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one “Glory Be To the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as it was, in the beginning, is now and forever shall be.”

Sometimes this part is done by holding hands.

It is known that this prayer is the most effective on Christmas Eve, but it will still work any time of the year! What are some other well-known Italian superstitions?

Share with us your tales!

16 thoughts on “Italian Superstitions—The Evil Eye (Malocchio)”

Comments are closed.