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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)

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