Skip to main content

Ancient Roman Beads, Carl Jung, and the Evil Eye

Roman Eye Bead*
The other day I was reading a book about amulets, talismans and magical jewelry written by Barbara Black Koltuv, Ph.D., and found a picture of an ancient eye bead that looked a lot like the one at the right.

These beads are sold all over the world to protect the wearer from the evil eye. I’m not a big believer in the powers of the evil eye, but I do remember the look my grandmother would give me when I acted up in church, and I passed along the practice when trying to control my own two little girls in public places. So, maybe there is something to it, after all...

Writing about amulets and talismans in the ancient world, Koltuv says, “A particular element of the middle world is the evil eye. It has existed since earliest times in every culture...The Phoenicians were seafarers, plying their trade all up and down the coasts of the Ancient World. Wherever they went, people believed that there was an evil eye, an evil intention sometimes attributed to a demonic force, and sometimes an attribute of a human being. Sometimes the evil intention was the result of an evil spirit entering into and possessing a human being. The evil eye can be warded off by a beneficient eye and also by a protective hand.”

Buy this pendant from Lost Marbles Jewelry here
Why is it so important for me to show you this ancient bead? Because last year I made a pendant (above) with a lampwork bead by artisan Bernadette Fuentes. While the “eyes” on the bead are not exactly the same, when I saw that eye bead in the book, it immediately reminded me of this large bead by Bernadette. I don’t believe in coincidences (as I’ve written before), so I believe it’s significant when similar symbols show up in different cultures and times. Perhaps it’s part of Carl Jung’s collective unconscious. I like to think so. I like to think that all men are connected and mystical, mysterious things happen in everyday life.

Buy this pendant from Lost Marbles Jewelry here
I also bought what could be called a protective hand bead from Bernadette. I think it’s very significant that this symbol appeared in my life again. Ten years ago I was going through a difficult time in my life and filled pages of a sketchbook with this image and believe it to be a common symbol in most cultures.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that symbols are important and most of them, it seems to me, appear across time and through many cultures. I like that, and the older I get the more I need that reassurance that we don’t really live in a world where random, insignificant things happen.

Art matters. Culture matters. Symbols matter. People have more in common than not.

*This particular glass Roman Eye Bead came from a strand of amazing beads that are over 2,000 years old, excavated and gathered in Afghanistan and traded in Africa.  This bead is in excellent condition, which is a rarity!  Its price reflect the condition, size, color and number and size of "eyes" (the larger or more the luckier!).  This bead measures 10mm x 10mm with a 2mm hole. (Source: Bead Paradise)


Popular posts from this blog

Joseph Cornell’s Boxes

Boxes by surrealist artist Joseph Cornell
“Shadow boxes become poetic theaters or settings wherein are metamorphosed the element of a childhood pastime.”
Joseph Cornell was not a sculptor, a draftsman, or a painter. This internationally renowned modern artist never had professional training. He was first and foremost a collector. He loved to scour old book shops and secondhand stores of New York looking for souvenirs, theatrical memorabilia, old prints and photographs, music scores, and French literature. 

Cornell was wary of strangers. This led him to isolate himself and become a self-taught artist. Although he expressed attraction to unattainable women like Lauren Bacall, his shyness made romantic relationships almost impossible. In later life his bashfulness verged toward reclusiveness, and he rarely left the state of New York. However, he preferred talking with women, and often made their husbands wait in the next room when he discussed business with them. He also had numerous friend…

How to Clean Copper After Annealing with a Recipe for Non-Toxic Pickling

This is not your grandmother’s pickling recipe. I’m pickling copper bangle bracelets instead. As you can see by the previous post, I’ve been annealing copper bracelets this week (my first time was Sunday evening). To give you a point of reference, these bangles were dark brown, almost black, when I put them in the pickling solution.

Today I used a recipe for a non-toxic pickle to clean the oxidation from the copper. It was simple: 1 cup white vinegar and 1 tablespoon table salt. I heated it in the microwave for 30 seconds in a glass jar and then put it on my husband’s coffee cup warmer. To test it I stuck a piece of annealed 6 gauge wire in it, and it worked beautifully. I only had to brush a little of the black stuff off, and it was bright, shiny copper again. Better yet, the brushing didn’t take a lot of effort.

Feeling very successful I doubled the batch and dropped all six bangles in and left them for about 15 minutes. When I came back the black was flaking off nicely and floating…

Eulogy for a Difficult Mother - what I wish I’d said at my mother’s funeral

I fell in love with my Mother for the first time on the night she died. It was May 20 of this year. Less than two months ago.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t love her before. I believe that all children love their mothers, but all mothers don’t necessarily love their children. My mother was a loving woman, but my sadness is that she loved her husbands more than she loved her children. In spite of that I always loved her. Every day of my life.

Mother had a difficult time living with bipolar disorder in a time when the only treatment was hospitalization and useless counseling, and the medications for it were toxic. It wasn’t until the last decade of her life that everything came together for her, and she was able to live well and with some peace.

On the evening before she died her husband called to say she had not awakened that morning but she was still breathing. Her doctor told us two or three years ago that she would not suffer with renal failure and that she would gradually lose energy,…