Душа is the Russian word for soul. This is how it declines:
|У меня есть душа.||I have a soul.|
Very often Russians will use the word душа where Americans would use the word ‘heart.’
|Он красил с душой.||He painted with heart.|
|Я благодарю вас от всей души.||I thank you with all my heart.|
The phrase «по душе» means ‘pleasant’ or ‘pleasing.’
|Эта книга была мне не по душе.||I didn't care for the book.|
What is a soul exactly? A soul is the non-physical essence of a person. Across the globe the meaning and existence of the soul varies. For the Christians the soul is the spiritual side of a person that must be saved by Christ in order to go to heaven. The Egyptians believed that a person had three souls, each of which went separate ways after the person died. Many believe that the soul can be contacted through the help of mediums or other spiritual forms of contact. According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rusalka and the book Russian Folk Belief By Linda J. Ivanits there is a creature called the Rusalka it is the Russian version of a mermaid. It is believed that when a young woman dies of violent circumstances or commits suicide their soul turns into one of these creatures. Around the soul are terms and phrases: soul mate, window to the soul, lover of the soul, soul music, to sell one’s soul to the devil, etc., that show the soul affects many aspects of life even if the major folklore around the soul has become irrelevant. One must be careful that they do not confuse the word душа the word for soul with the word душ the word for shower!
I find my relationship with Luludya goes much more smoothly if I give her grandmother a certain sum of money every Friday. Last week I was a bit late with her gift. Honestly, I wasn't skipping it on purpose — I know better than to try anything like that — but I was in fact a few hours late with the payment, an honest mistake, and as I entered the harridan's room, she gave me a certain look. When I returned home, I sensed a certain rumbling in my bowels, and then I spent the next ten hours in the smallest room of the house, and I knew:
|Старуха меня сглазила.||The old woman had hexed me.|
The phrase for ‘the evil eye’ in Russian is ‘дурной глаз’ or sometimes ‘лихой глаз’ or ‘худой глаз.’ When someone is affected by the evil eye, the Russians often use the word сглазить ‘to hex, jinx, curse’ to describe it. This verb only occurs in the perfective:
|Present||No such thing as
You can find the verb in phrases such as:
|Не обижай её, а то она сглазит.||Don't offend her or she'll put the evil eye on you.|
|Ребёнку плохо спится. Должно быть, кто-то его сглазил.||My child is sleeping poorly. Someone must have hexed him.|
|— У меня сегодня ничего не получается.
— Кто-то тебя сглазил.
|“Nothing is working out right for me today.”
“Someone jinxed you.”
Some years ago I came across a book called “Murphy’s Law and Other Reasons Why Things Go Wrong” by Arthur Bloch which contained a definition that went something like this:
The Unspeakable Law: The moment you mention something, if it's bad, it happens; if it's good, it goes away.
Many Russians have an inner feeling that the second bit is true. You musn't praise or compliment someone or express good expectations, otherwise you'll jinx yourself. So if you say something good, you need some magical little phrase to counteract the potential jinx. In AmE we say "knock on wood" in that context, and Russians may ceremonially spit over their left shoulder, which is represented in written form as «тьфу, тьфу», and then they add something like «чтобы не сглазить» “so that we don't jinx overselves”:
|Наш новый клиент завтра подпишет контракт, который принесёт в нашу фирму огромные деньги, тьфу, тьфу, чтобы не сглазить.||Our new client is signing a contract tomorrow that will bring our company a huge amount of money, knock on wood.|
Certain recent events have brought me to the conclusion that I may sometime need stronger counteragents to the evil eye. Fortunately a quick web search has revealed a most amazing website in Russia where for a mere $500 one can obtain such help. Here's a description of their remarkable wares:
|В центре «Линия жизни» можно будет приобрести ТАЛИСМАНЫ и АМУЛЕТЫ, «заряженные» нашими ведущими специалистами, победителями и финалистами телепередачи «Битва экстрасенсов». Это изделия из серебра с инкрустацией, каждое – прекрасное украшение, обладающее магической силой. (source)||At “Life Line” you can obtain TALISMANS and AMULETS ‘charged’ by our leading specialists, winners and finalists of the “Battle of the Psychics” TV show. These items are inlaid silver, each one a beautiful decoration with magical power.|
Yes, indeed. Three or four of those and I think I won't be having problems with the evil eye anymore. I'll place my order today.