Evil Eye, Scottish style

photo credit: Taryn Elliott, Pexels

How did you know you’d been afflicted with the evil eye in Scotland back in the day?

Yawning and vomiting were signs. So were a “general disturbance of the system” and a “grim, gruesome, and repulsive” appearance (42), according to the gorgeous treasury of lore gathered in Carmina Gadelica by folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912).

How did you cure it?

Collect water from a stream with a wooden ladle in the name of the Trinity. To this water add a gold ring gotten from some wife and something or other made of gold, of silver, and of copper. Make the sign of the cross over it and chant the following formula:

Who shall thwart the evil eye ?
I shall thwart it, methinks,
In name of the King of life.
Three seven commands so potent,
Spake Christ in the door of the city ;
Pater Mary one,
Pater King two,
Pater Mary three.
Pater King four.
Pater Mary five.
Pater King six.
Pater Mary seven;
Seven pater Maries will thwart
The evil eye.
Whether it be on man or on beast.
On horse or on cow ;
Be thou in thy full health this night,
[The name]
In name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


If the victim’s a sheep, you’ll tie a thread around his tail, give him a drink of the water, and sprinkle some on his head and spine. If a cow, the sprinkling or anointing is on his horns and in the space between the horns.

If that one doesn’t work, there are about 12 more where it came from, and they are all delightful, each with something different to recommend it.


Carmichael, Alexander, ed. and trans. “Cronachduinn Suil” [Thwarting the Evil Eye]. Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations, vol. 2. Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable, 1900. pp. 42-43.