Archive for October, 2009

The Evil Eye

From greekspider.com

This is by far the most famous of all Greek superstitions with very old roots in Hellenic culture from the time of paganism.  Paintings of Greek triremes over two thousand years ago have an eye painted at the front of the trireme in an attempt to ward off the Evil Eye.  The Evil Eye is known widely throughout Greece and the  Greek Islands.  The Evil Eye is said to be able to strike anywhere without notice and no one can be the wiser.

Think back to a time when someone complemented you on how nice you looked only for you to have a painful headache immediately after. Happenings such as this are attributed to the Evil Eye.

To ward off the Evil Eye several things can be done.  An eye is painted into the middle of a blue charm, this charm is then worn as a necklace or as a bracelet.  Blue beads can also be  worn instead of the eye charm in the form of a necklace or bracelet. The reason the color blue and the painted eye are used is that both are thought to ward off the evil of the eye.  Unfortunately people who have blue eyes are thought to be exceptional givers of it. In such, believers of the Evil Eye are weary of compliments received from a blue eyed person.

It is also said that a clove of garlic has the ability to ward of the evil eye.  Many people keep the clove of garlic in their clothes or in their pockets.

It is customary for Greeks to spit towards someone if they pay them a compliment. Sometimes they will spit three times, a symbolism of the using of the Holy Trinity to defend against the eye.  This custom of spitting has its roots in the Evil Eye.  The spitting  is an attempt to ward of the evil of the eye.

The Greek Orthodox Church also believes in the evil eye, and they refer to it as “Vaskania”.  There are people who are said to know how to remove the eye from someone who is affected.  The Greek Orthodox church strictly forbids this.  The church sees this as dangerous ground, and only a priest has the power to read a person in an attempt to remove the eye. However, Greeks openly practice the removing off the eye against the wishes of the Church.  The church fears that attempts to remove the eye can result in possession.  Believers of the evil eye should understand that the person who is attempting to remove the eye should be using the method that  the church uses, and not some custom that has been passed down generation to generation. Many of the readings that are passed down have their roots in paganism and do not adhere to Orthodoxy, the church attempts to guard against these readings.


From Wikipedia

Forms of belief

In some forms, it is the belief that some people can bestow a curse on victims by the malevolent gaze of their magical eye. The most common form, however, attributes the cause to envy, with the envious person casting the evil eye doing so unintentionally. Also the effects on victims vary. Some cultures report afflictions with bad luck; others believe the evil eye can cause disease, wasting away, and even death. In most cultures, the primary victims are thought to be babies and young children, because they are so often praised and commented upon by strangers or by childless women. The late UC Berkeley professor of folklore Alan Dundes has explored the beliefs of many cultures and found a commonality — that the evil caused by the gaze is specifically connected to symptoms of drying, desiccation, withering, and dehydration, that its cure is related to moistness, and that the immunity from the evil eye that fish have in some cultures is related to the fact that they are always wet.[2] His essay “Wet and Dry: The Evil Eye” is a standard text on the subject.

In many forms of the evil eye belief, a person — otherwise not malefic in any way — can harm adults, children, livestock, or a possession, simply by looking at them with envy. The word “evil” can be seen as somewhat misleading in this context, because it suggests that someone has intentionally “cursed” the victim. A better understanding of the term “evil eye” can be gained from the old English word for casting the evil eye, namely “overlooking,” implying that the gaze has remained focused on the coveted object, person, or animal for too long.

While some cultures hold that the evil eye is an involuntary jinx cast unintentionally by people unlucky enough to be cursed with the power to bestow it by their gaze, others hold that, while perhaps not strictly voluntary, the power is called forth by the sin of envy.


The amount of literary and archaeological evidence attests to the belief in the evil eye in the eastern Mediterranean for more millenniums starting with Hesiod, Callimachus, Plato, Diodorus Siculus, Theocritus, Plutarch, Heliodorus, Pliny the Elder, and Aulus Gellius. In Peter Walcot’s Envy and the Greeks (1978) he referenced more than one hundred of these authors’ works related to the evil eye. Studying these written sources in order to write on the evil eye only gives a fragmented view of the subject whether it presents a folkloric, theological, classical, or anthropological approach to the evil eye. While these different approaches tend to reference similar sources each presents a different yet similar usage of the evil eye, that the fear of the evil eye is based on the belief that certain people have eyes whose glance has the power to injure or even kill and that it can be intentional or unintentional.


From Wikipedia

Eye of Horus,

a hieroglyph and symbol

Seven different hieroglyphs are used to represent the “eye”-(human body parts). One is the common usage of the verb: to do, make, or perform. The other frequently used hieroglyph is the Wedjat, a sacred eye symbol that gives a mummy the ability “to see again”, called the Eye of Horus after his cult rose to prominence as the son of Hathor.

In arithmetic

In the Ancient Egyptian measurement system, the Eye Of Horus defined an Old Kingdom rounded off number one (1) = 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 + 1/64, by throwing away 1/64. The Eye of Horus statements created six-term rounded-off numbers. The Old Kingdom definition had dropped a seventh term, a remainder 1/64, that was needed to report exact series. During the Middle Kingdom that included the eleventh through fourteenth dynasties, exact series definitions and applications were written by creating seven terms, or more, written as Egyptian fraction series, often scaled to 1/320 hekat. For example, the Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll, the RMP 2/n table and the Akhmim Wooden Tablet wrote quotients and Egyptian fraction remainders that solved the problem. The metaphorical side of this information linked the Old Kingdom six fractions, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64, to separate parts of the eye, as noted by:

  • 1/2 was represented by smell, symbolized by the right side of the eye in a form of the nose. The pyramid text says: “Behold [the fire] rises in Abydos and it comes; I cause it to come, the Eye of Horus. It is set in order upon thy brow, O Osiris Khenti-Amenti; it is set in the shrine and rises on thy brow.”
  • 1/4 was represented by sight or the sensation of light, symbolized by the pupil. The pyramid text says: “Perfect is the Eye of Horus. I have delivered the Eye of Horus, the shining one, the ornament of the Eye of Ra, the Father of the Gods.”
  • 1/8 was represented by thought, symbolized by the eyebrow. The pyramid text says: “…the Eye of Horus hath made me holy…I will hide myself among you, O ye stars which are imperishable. My brow is the brow of Ra.”
  • 1/16 was represented by hearing, symbolized by the left side of the eye in the form of an arrow pointing towards the ear. The pyramid text says: “That which has been shut fast/dead hath been opened by the command of the Eye of Horus, which hath delivered me. Established are the beauties on the forehead of Ra.”
  • 1/32 was represented by taste, by the sprouting of wheat or grain from the planted stalk, symbolized by a curved tail. The pyramid text says: “Come, the Eye of Horus hath delivered for me my soul, my ornaments are established on the brow of Ra. Light is on the faces of those who are in the members of Osiris.”
  • 1/64 was represented by touch, symbolized by a leg touching the ground, or what can also be thought of as a strong plant growing into the surface of the earth. The pyramid text says: “I shall see the Gods and the Eye of Horus burning with fire before my eyes!”

In the Middle Kingdom the 1/64 symbol denoted ‘rest’ and ‘healing’ as connected to the hekat, with the word dja being attached.

The ‘Eye of Horus’ fractions were further discussed in the Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll following elementary definitions that built the Egyptian fraction system. Weights and measure subunits of a hekat were also connected to Eye of Horus numbers in the quotient, and as an exact remainder, the remainder including an Egyptian fraction and a ro unit, correcting the Eye of Horus 1/64 roundoff error. The ro unit, 1/320 of a hekat, is cited in the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and applied in the medical texts, i.e. Ebers Papyrus in two ways. The first replaced the hekat by a unity, 64/64 (in RMP 47, 82 and 83), and the second by 320 ro (in RMP 35–38). Exact divisions of 64/64 by 3, 7, 10, 11 and 13, written as 1/3, 1/17, 1/10, 1/11 and 1/13 multipliers, are also found in the Akhmim Wooden Tablet.


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Buy ResponsiblyM&C Saatchi has teamed up with IOM for the campaign titled “Buy Responsibly“. The campaign asks shoppers to find out where the food and goods they buy come from to avoid unwittingly supporting a modern form of slave labour with their purchases. According to IOM, trafficked and trapped migrants provide cheap labour in construction, agriculture, fishing, textiles and other sectors whose products end up on rich-country shop shelves.

“They are picking agricultural produce or producing consumable items that we all go and buy,” said Richard Danziger, head of IOM’s global counter-trafficking programme. “We are not asking people to boycott a particular brand or a supermarket or chain store. We are simply asking people to find out what lies behind the product they buy, for people to buy responsibly,” he told a briefing in Geneva, where IOM is based.

Shoppers can visit www.buyresponsibly.org

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The following is an extract from INDEX

Sex worker in Soho, London. Photograph: Dan Chung

Sex worker in Soho, London. Photograph: Dan Chung

Trafficking – Grabbing ‘Figures From The Air’

One of the key problems in working around the trafficking issue is the difficulty of accessing and verifying quality emprical data about the nature and extent of the phenomenon. In the absence of good quality information speculation, guesswork and extrapolation of statistical evidence from limited data sets tends to the fill the gap. On the extremes, two propositions thrive in a situation where hard evidence is thinly sown.

Either this situation provides an opportunity for those who would wish to deny the significance of trafficking by asserting that there is little or no evidence of the phenomenon in Cyprus or, for those who wish to draw attention to its seriousness, there can be a tendency to over estimate the numbers of people involved. Over time, the credibility of those promoting either position is likely to be challanged as more reliable evidence evidence for the nature and extent of the phenomenon becomes available.

In Cyprus it would now be difficult for any public figure or state official to assert that trafficking to the island does not take place. NGO’s have been successful in promoting the issue and government departments as well as leading politicans, such as the current Interior Minister, have demonstrated a willingness to address the problem. Further, as recent court cases demonstrate, trafficking issues have a prominence within the public sphere which they did not previously enjoy.

However, both past and current research on the nature and extent of trafficking to Cyprus remains weak and underdeveloped. Vague speculations are made about the numbers of people subject to this process with the only hard and fast data being those women (and they have been all woman so far) identified as trafficked by the police. This evidence, in turn, must be treated with caution as issues can be raised as to the nature of the identification process – how are victims identified? How might we define trafficking in accordance with international standards? Should the police be joined by other agencies and organisations to identify victims? Are all victims of trafficking successfully identified given the current proceedures?

Of the evidence that is presented – beyond data generated in the form of police statistics – there is a noted tendency to assume that that woman working in cabarets in Cyprus can be unambigiously identifed as trafficking victims. This is a prominent assumption in the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies’ Report on Trafficking published in October, 2007 (the executive summary is available here). However, later in the summary it is acknowledged that: ‘Cyprus’ only recorded numbers of trafficked women available are those collected as a result of police raids and inspections of cabarets, nightclubs and pubs.’ (p3). In conflating the phenomenon of trafficking with the employment of female third country nationals in cabarets generalisations rather than verifiable evidence abound. So the trafficked women;

  • ‘…are forced into prostitution by traffickers who fraudulently recruit victims for work as “entertainment” dancers in cabarets and nightclubs…’;
  • ‘Most of these women are unable to move freely, are forced to work over and above their working hours, live in desperate conditions, isolated and under strict surveillance.’
  • ‘A significant number of trafficked women are misled into believing that they are expected to work as waitresses, or barmaids. Instead, most of these women are forced, through the use of threats and/or violence, into prostitution.’
  • Traffickers and/or many “employers” take possession of their personal documents (visa permit, passports).’

The problem with each of these statements is not that they fail to highlight aspects of the trafficking phenomenon in Cyprus. The problem lies with the difficulting of accessing the quality of the information upon which these generalisations are made. So, whilst the MIGS report is a useful document it begins with a generalised assumption that all woman working in cabarets are victims of trafficking and then adds more specific generalisations about the nature of thier victimhood.

Read on here

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