Envy is a human emotion so old that it is noted in The Bible as one of the seven deadly sins. Nestled amongst wrath, greed, pride, lust, gluttony and sloth lies envy. The green eyed monster. The evil eye.
When it strikes it is enough to make you roll on the floor and wail. Your eyes feel hot and there’s a hard ball forming in your stomach. You want to procure the largest tub of ice cream available and wallow. All because you looked at someone’s Instagram Story and watched them unpack a massive free PR Haul. Why do they deserve all that free stuff? Doesn’t she have enough as it is? That is so unfair! Why can’t I get free stuff!
Girl, Envy is Rife
In these modern times of Social Media envy is rife. If we’re not feeling it and directing it toward others then we are actively attracting it. We post only the most flattering photos of ourselves doing exciting activities or receiving beautiful gifts from our admirers. But despite knowing that we are prone to only highlighting the good in our lives online, we fail to realise that everyone else is actually doing the same thing.
When we longingly lurk the halls of Facebook, narrowing our eyes at photos of our frenemies enjoying tropical holidays, it doesn’t make us feel good. In fact a study carried out by the University of Copenhagen found that when people, who are prone to bouts of envious depression from browsing Social Media, take a break from it, their mental health improves dramatically.
Envy Vs Jealousy
But what exactly is envy? And how is it different from jealousy? Well according to Psychology today envy is different to jealousy because it is a feeling directed at one person, usually over a something they have that you want; like their size 8 booty, their shiny new car, or their invite to that exclusive party. Jealousy on the other hand requires a third party. It is the third wheel situation where your bestie invites another friend along to an outing, leaving you with a fear that this new interloper may compete for your title of BFF.
The Truth about Envy
When I was in High School, there was a beautiful girl who was in a few of my classes. She wasn’t just beautiful, she was eye-catchingly gorgeous; she turned heads wherever she went with her long legs, great figure and pretty face. So not surprisingly a lot of people adored, envied and despised her.
I wish I could say that I was immune to the envy she stirred up in people but alas I was not. Just like many other people, I didn’t bother to speak to her, I simply stood back and glared at her and felt my heart grow cold and hard towards her.
Envying her didn’t feel good. It felt awful. It’s not a nice feeling when you want something someone else has, even more so when it’s something you can’t have; such as her lovely long limbs, straight white teeth, or the attention of all the boys in the school.
It would have been easier if she were a bitch. Then we all could have been justified in hating her just a little bit. But she wasn’t a bitch at all. She was shy so she didn’t tend to spark up conversations with people around her but she was never mean. This didn’t stop people from writing nasty quips about her on the walls of the girl’s toilets or spreading rumours involving her and the 1st 15 rugby team.
We cursed her with Envy
In our final year of high school this beautiful girl started to unravel. First her parents separated, then her sister went wild; drinking and partying, then she got sick. Really sick. I heard from her friends that she couldn’t even lift her head off the pillow and that she had a red blistering rash all over her back. The doctors didn’t know what had caused it or what was wrong with her.
Instinctively I knew. We had done this. All of us. We’d all envied her so much that we had forced this dark emotion onto her. The worst part was that I felt a strange sense of glee at her misfortune.
Envy and the Evil Eye
Envy in Judaism
In Judaism, it is believed that people have the power to place a curse or hex on others, simply by looking at them wickedly with evil in their heart. The affected person can then become ill, suffering from vomiting, lethargy, fever and chills. It is said that envy has a large role to play in the work of the Evil Eye, with many practicing Jews choosing not to brag or talk freely about their finest possessions, good fortune, or the love they have for their children, as “they wouldn’t want to tempt the Evil Eye”. If they do speak of these things, it is common for both parties to say something like “b’li ayin hara” (Hebrew), meaning “without an evil eye”.
Envy in Islam
In Islam a similar saying is used to ward off evil. When speaking of any good fortune or blessings in life, it is customary to end with “Masha’Allah” – God has willed it. This statement somewhat separates the good fortune from the receiver, implying that it is merely God’s blessing, not theirs, making it less likely to attract the envy of others or that pesky Evil Eye. Interestingly, in Arabic the term used for Evil Eye actually translates to ‘The Eye of Envy’.
Envy in Asyrian Culture
Asyrians are such strong believers in the Evil Eye that they will commonly wear a turquoise or green bead around their necks to ward off evil. Interestingly, Assyrians believe that the power of the Evil Eye is more likely to be possessed by people with blue or green eyes. This is possibly because green and blue eyes are far less common in Assyrian countries. But this could explain where the term Green Eyed Monster came from.
Envy in Greek Culture
In Greece it is thought that the Evil Eye comes not just from others wishing you ill but also from those who are in awe of you. Whether they envy your beauty, you lovely children or your home is beside the point. It is believed the very act of converting what someone else has is enough to place a hex on them. If someone has felt a pinch of envy or admiration it is customary to utter the Greek saying “I spit so that I do not give you the eye!”
Warding off the Evil Eye
The use of spitting to ward off the Eye is also used in Judaism, where women will spit three times in a row to ward off the curse that could be afflicted after offering compliments.
Interestingly though, it is not just the receiver of the Evil Eye that is cursed. In the Jewish text, The Chapters of the Fathers, Rabbi Eliezer wrote the following:
“A man with “an evil eye” will not only feel no joy but experience actual distress when others prosper, and will rejoice when others suffer. A person of this character represents a great danger to our moral purity.”
I’d been writing for about three years when I decided I would start trying to get my work published in literary journals, magazines independent blogs, et al. I sent in poem after poem, pitch after pitch and story after story. All of which got sent back to me with a polite rejection letter.
Meanwhile my dearest friends were getting published all over the show. With every excited text message I received from my friends, I‘d become more and more consumed with resentment and misery.
Why am I so unlucky? I would ask others. Is there something wrong with my writing? With my name? Why can’t I get anything published? My friends all shrugged. “Your writing is great. I don’t know why it won’t get published. Maybe just focus on the joy you get from it, not on getting in published.”
So I tried to focus on the joy. I wrote and wrote. But now every word I typed felt heavy with my own judgement. Is this the right word? Is this the right style? I questioned everything I wrote and quietly resented the friends who had suggested such a foolish exercise. Finding joy in your work is easy when the outside world tells you it’s good!
Spiritual Bathing for Envy
Overcome with this dark and heavy misery that had permeated my work, I called upon a healer I had met called Samar Ocean Wolf Ciprian. I had previously seen Samar for physical healing work but this time I knew the help I needed was more spiritual. I explained how I was feeling and Samar revealed, “It sounds like envy”.
At first I was appalled. I didn’t want to be envious of my friends, I wanted to be happy for them! I really was excited for them, but in the way of that excitement was a heavy burden; a large black monolith blocking the light from their good fortune.
She talked me through the practice of spiritual bathing, a Mayan healing technique that uses plants, water and prayer to remove negative energies from the body and soul. In my case the negative energy was envy.
I was instructed to first go for a walk to collect beautiful (non-toxic plants), then place them into a large bowl with water. Whilst breaking the plants up with my hands, infusing them into the water, I repeated a prayer or mantra, nine times. The prayer calls forth the goddess of water and the spirit of the plants to cleanse you of envy, then asks for any negative energies to be sent straight to the light where they can be of no harm to any living being.
The prayer can be to whomever you like, whether it be to a god, goddess or personal divinity is completely up to you. Simply ask them, along with the goddess of water and the spirits of the plants you have collected, to help cleanse you of this envy.
Once you have blessed the waters with the prayer it is time to start the bathing. If it is warm enough you could do this outside, if not, the shower is also a great place.
Remove your clothing and begin to rub the blessed potion all over yourself: Arms, legs, body, and face. If you like you can repeat the prayer again as you do this, or you can say it silently to yourself. Once you have rubbed it all over your body, tip the remaining potion over your head. Stand in silence for a few moments before taking a shower and washing yourself clean of envy.
Sage and Palo Santo Cleansing
An alternative to full spiritual bathing is to simply use either sage or Palo Santo smoke to smudge yourself. I personally prefer Palo Santo for its woody delicious aroma. All you need to do is undress and wave the smoke all around your body whilst repeating the prayer nine times.
I tend to use this method more frequently to remove envy, unless of course I am completely overcome with envy, then I will practice spiritual bathing and smudge my whole house!
Letting Go of Envy
Once I had rid myself of envy I felt so much lighter. I hadn’t realised just how much energy I had been using up on that awful snarled emotion. It was as if light were now able to shine on me and that big black monolith, that had been blocking my ability to feel truly happy for others, had shattered. Now not only could I share in celebrating the successes of my friends and focus fearless energy into my creative work, I could also attract abundance into my life.
Nothing Blocks the Flow of Abundance like Envy
When we allow ourselves to be overcome with envy we are not choosing gratitude for what we have. We are instead choosing to focus on lack and rue those around us who appear to have more. The best tools for attracting abundance are love and gratitude and envy promotes the exact opposite!
Next time when you are scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and you start to feel the heavy twinge of envy forming in your gut, take a moment. Put down your phone and take some deep breaths. Look around you and find three things in your vicinity that you are grateful for and tell yourself why. This can help you to see quite quickly that you too have abundance all around you. And remember, the next time feel yourself directing envy toward someone else, do you really want to inflict that on them? Do you really want to curse them with the Evil Eye?