(Sheep heart pierced by nails – Pitt Rivers Museum – source)
A form of dismissal of negative energy and directing negative energy towards a “target“. It is a form of magical manipulation of energies, which is sometimes spread as a simple wish to do harm, either by the agency of a god, spirit of natural forces.
It is known that curses have been used since the dawn of time. It is said that the first curse was pronounced by God when he cursed the snake who cheated Eve into biting the Forbidden Fruit.
Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field.
– Genesis 3:14
Another curse pronounced by God in the same passage of the Bible appears when God tells Adam that because he listened to his wife, the earth shall be cursed and it shall produce thorns and thistles.
Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, ‘Thou shalt not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.
– Genesis 3:17-18
Ancient Egyptians were said to be masters in producing curses. A method used by Egyptians was by creating wax figures of the victim and by the help of Apep/Apophis (Serpent God of Chaos and Evil) or of the dead, they would place curses on anyone. When not using wax figures, they were writing prayers and magic formulas on lead tablets or other materials, that the enemy may be hurt along with the methods used and the reason of the curse. The Romans, Etruscans and Greeks all shared the same method.
The Celts had their own ways of cursing. Two of the most known are the Stone Curses and Egg Curses. The Stone Curses was the easiest way to curse a person, by reversing the stone three times and calling the name of the victim. Egg Curses were fertility curses. If hiding or burying eggs on someones lands it was believed it would steal the fertility of their soil and their luck.
The witches of the medieval times were well-known for their curses. Probably borrowed from the ancients, like the majority of their rites, their curses were creating chaos in the country and terrifying the entire nation. Wax images were, I believe, their most common method of cursing.
Types of curses
There are many types of curses, which are created according to their purpose. Some are simple and slightly harmful, others are complex and deadly. According to the tradition from which they spring, these are created by the practitioners based on their beliefs.
Here are the most common examples of curses:
Curses for bad luck
The most common type of curses are those for bringing misfortune/bad luck. Such is the voodoo cursed called jinx. The African American jinx is directed towards a person for minor misfortunes. They can be put directly over the victims or over an object.
The best example of an illness curse is the evil eye. The evil eye is a gaze or look which is considered to cause prejudice or misfortune to the person to whom it was directed, intentionally or unintentionally. It is usually caused by looking with envy and/or admiration towards a person. Not anyone can deliver the evil eye, yet those who can do it unintentionally.
The most affected by the evil eye is said to be children and babies, because they are frequently praised and commended by strangers and women without children. It is also considered that babies should not be allowed to see themselves in the mirror until the age of 1, because they can deliver the evil eye on themselves, unintentionally, because of admiration. However, any person can be affected and it is said that even plants and animals can falls victims to this type of curse.
The evil eyes usually brings illness, nausea, headaches, continuous yawning, dryness and dehydration.
The ways to protect from the evil eye vary from country to country. In Romania, there is the custom of tying a red thread at the joints of a person or at the neck of an animal. It is considered that the red color attracts the power of the evil eye and drains its power. Another method of protecting and recovering form the evil eyes is the descântec. In Italy, especially in the south and in other countries as well, many sorts of charms and amulets are worn to keep off the evil eye. Such is the Hamsa amulet, which is an amulet in the form of a palm, usually of dark blue color with an eye in the center.
If one is affected by the evil eye, an old remedy is a certain powder that the old women or witches knew how to prepare while using magic words, after which it was spread over the person or the animal and thus broke the spell and enchantment. Like any other curse, it can be treated, usually by calling the help of another witch with equal or higher power in order to release it.
Deadly curses are, obviously, the most dangerous of all. They are usually done over objects (for this, read further at 5. Object curses). Those who can cause the death of a person through curses either have a talent, a special ability or a major experience in cursing.
We’ve all heard of the famous curses of the Egyptian tombs, like that of Tutankhamen. Legends says that in an antechamber there was found a clay tabled inscribed with the message: “Death will slay with his wings whoever disturbs the peace of the pharaoh.” The archeologists who discovered the tomb died a year later in mysterious conditions. There were also numerous other people connected to this curse who have died in odd circumstances.
Location curses are all over the world.
Object curses are those put on objects of the victim or done by the agency of certain objects (such as Wax Images or Dolls).
Certain curses need a link to the victim in order to work. This link can be done through an object of the victim (i.e. clothes) or even body parts (hair, nails, teeth).
An example of a curse object is that of the Hope Diamond. The diamond, bought by king Louis XIV supposedly from Jean-Baptiste Tavernier in 1668, is considered to be curses because all its owners suffered disease, misfortune and death.
An universal method of placing a curse over someone is by using an image or representation of the victim. Wax images and dolls were used since antiquity. These were common in ancient India, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Egypt, Africa and Europe and is not an exaggeration to say they were everywhere. These images or dolls were made of clay, wood or filled material. They have to be done in such a way that they resemble the victim as much as possible. It is believed that the closer the image is to its victim’s looks, the more the victim will suffer when the image is hit or destroyed.
The method of placing a curse on an image and connecting it to the victim is by applying parts coming from the victim, such as clothing or body parts and pronouncing the victim’s name each time the Image/doll is hit. When the image is hit so is the victim. Thus, if the image is destroyed, the victim dies.
Traditionally, wax images were put into fire or pierced with nails and thorns. This was done to torture the victim.
The wax images were mostly used in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance by witches. The famous witch, Mother Demdike declared that wax images are “the speediest way to take a man’s life away by witchcraft.”
In Italy this curse was a little different, being know as the “Spell of the Black Hen.” The figure of a hen painted black and decorated with hair, if possible the hair of the victim, or parts of nails together with hair, was thrown in water to rot. Black needles were stuck into the image as well.
There is also The Wiches’ Ladder. A cord is knotted at regular intervals and in each knot is tied the feather of a black hen. A curse is said upon it, and it is considered a fatal talisman of death. (see Witchcraft and Black Magic by Montague Summers, page 192). Something similar is used in Demonolatry. It is called The Cord of Nine. This is a cord of leather that is pricked nine times saying: “Fair is foul, foul is fair, I throw this curse into the air, dark be black as darkness be, around this wretch so it shall be.” (see Complete Book of Demonolatry by S. Connolly, page 272)
The outcomes of a curse vary, depending on the type and intention of the curse. Some curses can cause simple misfortunes, others cause illness and injury and others can cause death. So basically, they all do harm.
From my own experience with curses I’ve learned that if they are done with strong intentions and desire their effects can be devastating, even if there’s no effort put into their creation. Theoretically, anyone can place a curse, though some people have a “gift” in provoking harm through curses more than others. If one can deliver the evil eye, then he can place any curse successfully.
The effects of a curse can begin and stop when intended. They can have immediate effect or at a certain date. Some curses are known to be directed even after hundreds of years, and can last for centuries. It is also said that if the victim knows/finds out about the curse laid upon him, it will only make the curse more potent, practically making the victim cause his own death.
The proper using and reasons for placing a curse
I believe that any curse needs a strongly motivated reason. It is known that curses are not a safe magical action, because many of them can simply come back at the one who places them in the same manner as if one would spit against the wind (forgive me comparison!). This means that if one doesn’t have the skill, the power of intention and the proper reason for doing it, the curse can turn its negative effects back to the petitioner.
If we take into consideration the Book of Proverbs, we find that an undeserved curse can have no effect (Proverbs 26:2) and that it can fall back upon the one who pronounces it (Genesis 12:3; Sirach 21:27). This theory has been accepted by many who are familiarized with curses and hexing. It is also known that if guilt or remorse is felt before, during or after a curse, it will make the negative energy and the curse get back to the source. Essentially, you are cursing yourself. S. Connolly suggests that before placing a curse, you should take three days to think about it before actually performing it (S. Connolly, Complete Book of Demonolatry, page 268).
In closing, I’d like to offer some examples of proper and improper reasons for cursing.
- Someone has raped, molested or killed a friend
- Someone has raped, molested or humiliated you
- Someone lied about you, or plotted against you that ended up making your life miserable (losing your job, your friends, your family, your home, etc..)
- Someone has mentally abused you or a friend and you cannot recover.
- You don’t like the person
- The person said something bad about you and made you angry
- Your partner cheated on you or simply left you
- Someone criticized or insulted you
- You were fired for a legitimate reason
- You want to prove your powers, or you want to prove that curses work