on Cursing

I’m hoping this will be my only magically-focused post. I just am not focused on it and hope to move away from the magic-heavy (to the point of bowed knees) Paganism. But, something Drew Jacob wrote caught my attention.

I want to say I like his project and think it is awesome, and you should go donate. I think people deserve to be paid if they do magic (and want to be paid), and most arguments about how it’s ‘immoral’ to charge or demeans the ‘sacredness’ of magic don’t hold water. And I think making magic available to people who can’t pay is pretty awesome and, in our magic-heavy communities, fantastic.

But, unlike Drew, I don’t have a problem with curses.

Maybe it’s because I don’t do magic. It’s probably more that I don’t go with the idea that there are inherent laws or ethics to magic, or that a curse will turn back on its caster. From my perspective, if a spell goes foul – and a cursing coming back to bite you would definitely be going foul – you did the spell wrong. A curse isn’t any different from another spell, to me.

I treat spells, magic, and those that perform it – if I’m approaching them for that work – like, to borrow Drew’s example, an ad firm or lawyer. I don’t go in expecting a morality lesson. I expect a spell. Except, being in the US and being in the Pagan community, I don’t think I ever actually would approach someone for a curse unless I knew beforehand, from their own mouth, that they were okay with them. Because, boy oh boy, do the tongues start lashing when you mention the ‘c’ word. (So I have to give props to Drew for also being awesome in how he handles being approached for curses – being firm in his stance but not shaming the client.)

Sorceress by Sanchinko

I think, if you don’t like curses, don’t curse, and don’t associate with those that curse if every time they mention that work you start chastising them. They don’t share your ethics, and all that’s probably going to come from that interaction is a lot of frustration. We have to recognize when we just aren’t going to see eye to eye on something, and cursing is usually one of those things. When I so much as mention that I’m not against curses, people recoil as if I’ve said that I kill children. Without knowing anything else about me – oh, I support curses, I must be an awful, awful person.

I didn’t used to think neutral-to-positively about curses, thanks to the neoWiccish influence of the books I was reading when I first learned about Paganism in my teens. I thought curses were awful, and anyone that performed them was going to get theirs, and they were undeniably in the wrong. Then…I started opening up to different ideas. Some people refused to curse because they felt it was morally wrong but were otherwise unconcerned with the issue. Some people cursed viciously and without remorse. Some specialized in curse-clean up, taking off curses and tossing off their effects. It wasn’t a black and white issue.

What makes people comfortable to hear is that of course I would never curse anyone, I don’t think anyone deserves that – but I do. And that definitely makes people uncomfortable, that I believe people deserve to be cursed sometimes. I’m not going to jump on someone because they’ve cursed someone or want to. I’m going to talk about it with them, not to convince them one way or another, but to just listen. (And yeah, tumblr, I think there are bad reasons for cursing someone, like, say, being mad they didn’t kiss up to you enough.) I’m not going to sneer if you don’t curse. It’s your magic, not mine. But I am going to hold my hand out and ask what you think you’re doing if you start snapping at another practitioner that isn’t you that they shouldn’t curse, what are they doing, the law of three is coming to get them – you get the idea. (And, yes, I have seen that happen.)

So I can’t really get behind the ‘anti-cursing’ being a good trait to have or cursing not being on the table – why shouldn’t it be, for some people? Some of you may say that it’s because it affects another person, but let me tell you right now that I get much more irate with people who bless me than with people who threaten to curse me. Magic is a big mess, and the most coherent arguments I’ve heard for people not cursing is that ‘it’s bad’. Apart from that, if I’m lucky, someone will point out that it’s hurting another person. Which, yes, that is undeniably true.

So does that employment spell you did that got you a job at the expense of someone else.

There’s also that ever-tired argument that ‘magic doesn’t really work like that!’, which, gods, I’m not quite sure how magic works because every single person has a different understanding of it. So, maybe rather than hearing the ‘c’ word and exclaiming ‘bad bad bad’ as our communities are wont to do, we should actually sit down and think about the issue and come to our own conclusions about it, and then stick to our choices without ramming our fingers down each others throats.


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