Many mystical texts speak of EYES as the “mirrors that reflect the essence of the soul” and it is no surprise that several cultures consider the EYE symbol a wonderful amulet that protects and guides. Here, we focus on the power of eyes and on some of the more well-known eye talismans that continue to be worn as protective symbols.
The Eye of HORUS
This is an ancient Egyptian symbol that signifies the protection of the Sun’s all-seeing eye. The symbol represents the power of illumination. This is said to be the eye of the Falcon Sky God Horus. Legend has it that Horus was once a local god worshipped along the delta region of the Nile. Over the centuries, his cult spread throughout Egypt and belief in the potency of the Eye of Horus spread into Roman times, when he was worshipped as the son of the Goddess Isis and the God Osiris.
Horus is associated with regeneration, good health and expanding prosperity. It is believed that the source of Horus’ power lie in his two eyes. His right eye was white and represented the Sun; his left eye was black and represented the Moon.
According to ancient myths, Horus lost his left eye to his evil brother, Seth, whom he fought to avenge Seth’s murder of Osiris. Seth tore out the eye, but lost the fight. The eye was reassembled by magic by the God Thoth, and Horus then presented his eye to Osiris, and this enabled him to be born again, but in the underworld.
Thus as an amulet, the Eye of Horus has three versions: a left eye, a right eye, and two eyes. The eye is constructed in fractional parts, with 1/64 missing, the special piece Thoth added by magic. The Egyptians use this EYE symbol as a protection against those with evil intentions. Worn as jewellery fashioned of gold, silver, lapis, wood, porcelain, or carnelian, the Eye of Horus is believed to ensure safety, to protect one’s health, and give the wearer wisdom and prosperity. Some believe that the Eye of Horus can take on a life of its own and will swoop down on anyone whose intentions are evil.
The Eye-in-the-Hand is another powerful eye talisman, believed to signify the coming together of two powerful human functions. The sensing function as signified by the Hand and the observation function as signified by the Eye. So the Eye-in-the-Hand represents SEEING and DOING.
Thus this two-part icon symbol, in bringing together these two ACTIONS, represents the most effective symblic condensation of the ideals of human existence – omniscience (all knowing) and omnipotence (all-powerful). This symbol originated in the Middle East where the Hand represents God’s Protective hand, and the blue eye shields its owner from the curse of the Evil Eye, which brings envy and jealousy.
The Hand’s positive energy attracts happiness, wealth and good health. The addition of the Eye is said to repel or prevent other people’s bad intentions, and protects against the envious eye being cast your way.
In Turkey and adjacent areas of Greece, in order to prevent the effect of the evil eye bringing misfortune to you, a reflective “Eye” made of blue glass is added to the Hand.
In India and the Southern Mediterranean region, the Eye-in-the-Hand is the most popular form of protection, as it is considered the best way to drive away the influence of resentment, which in the olden times could be the cause of death, suffering and loss.
The custom in the Middle Eastern countries was to place a plaque of this amulet near the front door. Additional plaques can also be placed next to every opening into the home (i.e. all doors and windows) to ensure no evil energy enters into the home. Hand plaques were also hung near beds of newborn babies.
The Hand plaque contains the following verse:
Let no sadness come through this gate.
Let no trouble come to this dwelling.
Let no fear come through this door.
Let no conflict be in this place.
Let this home be filled wtih the blessing of joy and peace.
PHARAOH Eye Amulet
In the ancient culture of Egypt, amulets and talismans were considered to be essential adornments worn by the living. These amulets were believed to possess magical powers that gave protection in the present life as well as in the afterlife after death. The Egyptians believed strongly in an afterlife and much of their belief systems centered around this strong fixation. Hence the tombs of the pharaohs – the pyramids – were richly endowed and filled with many symbolic treasures that were meant to proffer a safe and good afterlife for their kings. The pyramids have lasted to this day, as have some of their more powerful talisman symbols.
Among the many symbols worn by the Egyptians as amulets, the unadorned human eye was believed to be the most popular, as it protects and provides sight into other worlds. The word “amulet” roughly translates from the Egyptian verb meaning to “guard” and “protect”. For greater strength, these eye amulets were sometimes placed within a triangle to incorporate the hidden but intense power of the pyramid. These are called Pyramid Eye amulets. Eye amulets have been in favor throughout the centuries and some have even been found on Roman Period mummies. Today, these amulets are available as gold and silver jewellery, popular amongst who study the antiquities.
The All-Seeing Eyes of THE BUDDHA
Mahayana Buddhists believe that the All-Seeing Eyes of the Buddha see everything and know everything, but they do not speak. It is believed that simply by displaying the symbolic line drawing of Buddha’s two All-Seeing Eyes is sufficient to cause spiritual awakening for all who are caught in the mesmerizing gaze of the enlightened one.
Often depicted on stupas and drawn onto Omani stones in the Kathmandu valley regions, the All-Seeing Eyes of the Buddha symbolize awareness and signify powerful protection against one doing evil deeds and committing non-virtuous actions. The small dot depicted between the eyes represents the third eye, a powerful symbol of spiritual awakening. The curious squiggle below the space between the eyes is the Sanskrit word for the numeral one, and symbolizes the unity of all wisdom with compassion, which leads to enlightenment.
There is a verse in the sutras that describe the five eyes:
“The Heavenly Eye penetrates without obstruction,
The Flesh Eye sees obstacles but does not penetrate,
The Dharma Eye only contemplates the mundane,
The Widsom Eye understands True Emptiness,
The Buddha Eye shines like a thousand suns,
Although the illuminations differ, their substance is one.”
The Heavenly Eye penetrates without obstruction and sees the affairs of eighty-thousand great aeons. The Flesh Eye can see those things which are obstructed. The Dharma Eye contemplates the “mundane truth.” and all the affairs of worldly existence. The Wisdom Eye comprehends the “genuine truth” and the state of true emptiness.
Not just the Buddha but everyone has a Buddha Eye. Some have opened their Buddha Eyes and some have not. The opened Buddha Eye shines with the blazing intensity of a thousand suns. Although the Five Eyes differ in what they see, they are basically of the same substance.