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.


Basics: the Clarene (Relationships)
Basics: the Clarene (Mundane)
Moving Forward
Happy 5th Anniversary
About Aine

Aine Llewellyn is a 20 year old girl creature currently mucking about in southern Arizona. She enjoys the winters and rain but can’t stand the heat. She is a difficult polytheist that natters on and on about her faith.

  • http://www.12stepwitch.com 12stepWitch

    Just wanted to say I enjoy your posts. And happy birthday–I see your bio changed =)

  • http://daoineile.com Aine

    Thank you!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

    Like guns, some people are morally opposed to curses no matter what the circumstances. I respect that opinion. I’ve never shot anyone. I’ve never cursed anyone. But I reserve the right to do either – or both – if that’s what it takes to protect myself or those close to me.

  • http://daoineile.com Aine

    Good comparison!

  • http://aediculaantinoi.wordpress.com P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    The fili in Irish medieval folk etymologies was someone who was “splendrous” (li) in their praise and “poisonous” (fi) in their satires. A satire is not just “making fun of” someone; it’s asking the Otherworld to curse them and for the cosmos to withdraw its support for their existence, their actions being so reprehensible as to demand such a response. It’s a serious business, and as a practicing fili, one I have to be ready and willing to wield when necessary. And, I have.

  • http://daoineile.com Aine


  • http://www.thedomesticwitch.net/ Julie

    You get irate with people that “bless you?” Damn you for wanting to send me positive energy! Lighten up. Don’t get irate. Just say thank you an move on. As for cursing, I think it is justifiable in some circumstances such as rape, abuse, and murder. But cursing someone because you are jealous or want revenge is just childish. What’d most important is the motivation behind it. Yes it’s reasonable to say cursing someone who raped you is acceptable. However it’s ridiculous to curse someone because they got a promotion and you didn’t.

  • http://daoineile.com Aine

    I think it’s ridiculous for you to assume I’m going to have the same ethics as you – I can guarantee, we don’t.

    I ask people not to bless me, usually, when I don’t know them – people I know are an entirely different matter, and I’m usually pretty kind about asking for blessings to be omitted for me. I get far more irate with people who tell me to lighten up. I don’t want your energy in my life unless we’re already friends or good acquaintances, and it’s far more rude to push your ‘blessings’ onto me. I’ll take my Christian relatives praying to their god for me over a random pagan ‘blessing’ me any day. Blessings are serious to me, partially because of my religious views of them that are informed by my ethics and by the spirits I work with (or is that not a ‘good enough’ reason for you?) and maybe you shouldn’t be so rude to assume I’m going to treat them the same way you do.

    I also don’t care if you think someone is cursing someone else for a petty reason – their practice, not yours. Don’t like it, don’t associate with them – that approach works wonders for me.

  • http://heksebua.com/linda Linda Ursin

    Very well said. I’m glad I’m not the only one grabbing this by the tail.

  • http://beingpagan.blogspot.com/ Fridr

    I find this interesting. I’ve often figured that if you protect yourself well enough curses are just fine and dandy. I personally don’t do them (Not that I won’t, I just haven’t had a cause to do that). I have however cast heavy duty protection around certain people that may seem like curses against those that have been harming them. Majorly. One person ended up in the hospital after trying to harm my nephew. Another found themselves being deployed to Iraq after beating my friend. I take those things seriously. I guess I identify with Bast for that reason, when I place protection on someone you bet your ass I mean business.

  • DeAnna

    I like your common-sense no-nonsense approach, Aine.