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Left eye

Posted by Smokey Stover on August 26, 2007

In Reply to: Left eye posted by pamela on August 24, 2007

: : : I am looking for understanding to references to the "left eye". I've overhead sayings, such as "I'll shoot him in the left eye", and Norse gods giving their left eye for ravens. Why the left eye? Is there some mystical association with this eye, wisdom perhaps? References on the web seem sketchy at best.

: : There is certainly a connection with wisdom because it was wisdom for which Odin gave up his left eye. The ravens associated with him are Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory) but I don't think they were part of the deal. Why it should have been the left eye I don't know.

: A quick look on Google shows that it isn't just Odin who had something special about his left eye - the left eye seems to play a significant role in mythology from Egypt through to Japan (and there is an old superstition that a witch has two pupils in her left eye as well). Pamela

I found a reference to an article which might be interesting. I don't have the credentials to see the article on the Internet, although obviously I could go look up the Documenta Ophthalmologica. (But I won't.)

You will note, in the abstract, a reference to oculus sinister (OS). This means the left eye, which was, of course, the subject of the search.

George H. Bohigian1. "The history of the evil eye and its influence on ophthalmology, medicine and social customs"
Journal Documenta Ophthalmologica
Publisher Springer Netherlands

Abstract. Belief in the evil eye is one of the oldest and most widespread superstitions in the world. The concept of the evil eye has influenced present day ophthalmology, medicine, and social customs. Oculus sinister (OS), the serpent and the staff of Asclepius, the symbol of RX, and many social customs are historically related to the evil eye.

Presented, in part, at the tenth annual meeting of the David G. Cogan Ophthalmic History Society, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, March 8 and 9, 1997.