WASHINGTON — When the March for Our Lives fills cities around the country this weekend, keep your eyes peeled for, well, eyes.
“Evil eyes” are set to be a big symbol of the march, similar to the way pink pussy hats represented the Women’s March last year. They’re mostly expected to turn up on gloves, but watch for them on signs, t-shirts and in other forms.
There’s a seriously strong connection between “evil eye” gloves and pussy hats, and there’s plenty of history and tradition behind the symbolism of the evil eye that can give some context to its newest role.
They were started by the same woman who helped create ‘Pussy Hats’
Krista Suh is a feminist, crafter and activist who was one of the women behind the pussy hats that bedecked thousands of heads and became a cozy, yet powerful, symbol of resistance.
The evil eye gloves are her idea, too.
“It came to me in a dream, just minutes before waking up – I had a dream of a protest, a huge peaceful crowd with their hands outstretched toward the sky — each palm had a huge EYE drawn on it,” she wrote on her blog. “It was a Sea of Eyes.”
Suh explains that the vision stuck with her, and when the March For Our Lives began to take root, she knew her vision had a purpose. She asked fellow crafters and #NeverAgain activists to participate by knitting or making eye gloves, or donating towards the march’s cause.
“Congress needs to know that the people are watching,” Suh wrote.
People have donated hundreds of pairs to the cause
Suh and others who knit, sew, crochet or otherwise use their skills to produce things for causes call it “craftivism,” and it’s not just about making cozy hats or gloves.
When the pussy hat idea was being shared around social media before the Women’s March, Suh’s friend and fellow pussy hat creator Jayna Zweiman told CNN people used the concept to share their stories of sexual assault, to encourage survivors and activists, and to generally foster an idea of community and solidarity.
So, to those who practice craftivism, making evil eye gloves is partially about the vision, but it’s also about connecting with others who feel similarly moved and want to make a difference.
To that end, Suh asked people on her website to make a pledge — either to knit a pair to donate or wear, or donate to the March for Our Lives cause.
On Suh’s website, her original request for 438 pairs of gloves (to represent a statistic that claims 438 people killed or injured in school shootings since 2014) has been greatly exceeded. The pledge count now stands at more than 1,000 pairs, coming from all over the world.
Patterns for the evil eye gloves are going around the internet, and some organizations have offered workshops and events for people to get together and create their own.
Inevitably, the highly recognizable and replicable symbol has inspired some more consumerist urges, too. Suggestions for other evil eye paraphernalia abound on lifestyle sites and Pinterest boards, and evil eye gloves are currently a hot item on Etsy, sometimes selling for $30 or more.
The ‘evil eye’ isn’t necessarily evil
Obviously, the evil eye has been around way longer — millennia longer — than the March For Our Lives. And while it may make an impact as a piece of modern activism, it’s important to be aware of the ancient meanings and spiritual significance it holds.
In Mediterranean and Western Asian cultures, the evil eye can be a source of malice and malady, maybe even a curse of sorts. It’s sometimes religious, since the lore of the evil eye has threads in Christian, Jewish and Islamic literature, but it can also have more secular and generally spiritual connotations.
So if the eye is evil, why do people wear it?
Generally, actually wearing the evil eye as a talisman is thought to bring protection against its dangers. So when it is applied to something like the March For Our Lives, it is more than simply a symbol that someone is being watched. When worn, it can be protection for the wearer. When deployed as a symbol of change, resistance or dissatisfaction, it can be seen as a warning.
An evil eye on a hand is already a very specific symbol
Interestingly enough, an evil eye on a hand, like the evil eye gloves appear when worn, is its own ancient symbol. Often called the Hamsa hand or the Hand of the Goddess, it is a symbol of protection against the evil eye. It’s a fairly trendy icon, so you’ve probably seen this symbol on jewelry or clothing.
Since it represents a female entity protecting people from harm, many Women’s March and March For Our Lives Activists may find the way it is represented on evil eye gloves to be particularly poetic.