Have you been hexed or cursed? Should you worry about being hexed or cursed?
I’ve always said such things are real but fairly rare. In her very useful book Hex Twisting: Countermagick Spells for the Irritated Witch Diana Rajchel says “cursing is becoming increasingly common.”
There’s somewhat of a debate around this on Twitter. I’ve mostly stayed out of it – the participants are talking past each other, and that rarely makes for productive dialogue. Some have raised the point that there are places where low-intensity hexing and cursing are common, such as the Evil Eye in Mediterranean cultures. I have little first-hand knowledge of this and so can’t speak about it in detail. I can say that where this is common, there are usually corresponding protective charms and countercurses, and that’s something we can learn from.
The question “is hexing common?” makes for an interesting exercise in magical anthropology, but for me, the more relevant question is “have you been hexed?” How can you know? And if a malevolent magician isn’t the cause of your troubles, what is?
Let’s start with why I believe low-level hexing isn’t much of a problem – or at least, why it shouldn’t be.
Idle words have little power
I explored this idea in more depth a couple years ago in A Ritual to Remove Curses We Place On Ourselves. Negative self-talk isn’t good, but it’s not a curse. Other people talking bad about you is also not good, but it’s not a curse either.
Neither are loud and bombastic proclamations. I’ve yet to see a bad driver spontaneously burst into flames on the expressway.
Magic works best when it’s specific, focused, and powerful. Idle words are weak and scattered. If one if them happens to hit you just right it may hurt, but it’s unlikely to cause any serious or long-term damage.
Skilled witches have better things to do
Our mainstream cultures understands the idea of “magic words” – words of power that carry magic in them.
I’m fascinated with words of power, from the barbarous words of the PGM and similar sources to ritual phrases that have built up power through usage in recent years. There are curse words (not profanity, although the two are related) that when uttered by the right person under the right circumstances can have a significant impact.
The key is “by the right person under the right circumstances.” Words plus desire plus will is strong magic. If the village witch speaks certain words in a certain manner, that means a lot more than if someone whose witchcraft consists of wearing black and collecting crystals says the same thing.
And the village witch usually has more important things to do than curse random people on the internet.
Basic spiritual hygiene takes care of most of this
If you’re worried about being hexed, the most effective thing you can do is something you should be doing anyway: basic spiritual practice and hygiene.
An umbrella does a great job of keeping the rain off of you. Likewise, basic grounding, centering, and shielding does a great job of deflecting idle words and low-level hexes. Regular cleansing – of your house and of yourself – will wash off what the shielding doesn’t stop.
Maintaining spiritual alliances with your Gods and ancestors is a great help. Not in a “guardian angel pushing you out of the way of an oncoming car” sense (although that can happen, especially with ancestors) so much as putting you under an even bigger and stronger umbrella.
An umbrella won’t protect you from a hurricane and basic spiritual hygiene won’t protect you from a focused attack from a skilled magician. But the number of witches with hurricane-level skills is small, and if you run afoul of them you usually know it.
“An inexplicable run of bad luck”
In her book, Diana Rajchel says hexes usually manifest as “an inexplicable run of bad luck.” Then you have to begin a process of elimination – there is no PCR test for hexes and curses. First look for ordinary causes. Remember that sometimes random chance produces a series of bad results – it’s still random.
When you can’t find ordinary explanations and blaming it on random chance defies the odds, it’s time to start looking for extraordinary explanations.
Sometimes you find evidence of malefic magic. Sometimes you work defensive magic and the problems stop. Magic is a tool and sometimes it’s used for ill and not for good.
But I want to propose that if you feel like you’re being hexed – particularly if it happens with any frequency – there’s an ordinary explanation you may be overlooking.
You’re living in a worldwide pandemic and few countries are handling it well
A 2015 study says the five most stressful life events are:
- Death of a loved one
- Major illness or injury
- Job loss
What do all of these have in common – especially moving at #3? They’re all major disruptions to our lives.
I don’t know anyone whose life hasn’t been disrupted over the past two years. Five and a half million people are dead, over 800,000 in this country. Mitigation strategies have added more disruption, and our polarized society can’t agree on what’s necessary and effective. Not because the science is shifting – which is unavoidable with a new disease – but because too many decisions are driven by political ideology and not by data. Conspiracy theories abound with little done to suppress them, which are then used as justification by the “you can’t tell me what to do!” crowd. Too many people are demanding black and white answers and then responding violently when they get the million shades of gray that is reality.
Right, wrong, or somewhere in between, all this is incredibly disruptive and stressful. It can look and feel like an inexplicable run of bad luck – like you’ve been hexed. And it can wreck your health, either with Covid or with stress or with both.
Have you been hexed, or are you feeling the effects of a pandemic in a dysfunctional society?
Find the right approach for the situation
If you know you’ve been hexed, you can take appropriate countermeasures. But if you’re not hexed, countercurses will be of little value.
I’ve adjusted my approach to the pandemic several times over the past two years. Here are a few relevant posts and the dates I posted them:
A Pagan Response to the Coronavirus (March 2020)
Finding Happiness and Joy During the Pandemic (June 2020)
Vaccines and Seat Belts: Playing the Odds (April 2021)
There Are Four Lights (October 2021)
A Guide to Living in Interesting Times (January 2022)
How am I doing? I’m getting by – that’s about all I can say. I try to be encouraging, but I don’t want put on a false front. I don’t want anyone thinking “John is doing fine, so I should be doing fine.” John is not doing fine. John is functioning, with good days and bad days. That’s about as well as can be expected under the circumstances.
Functioning on the bad days is one of the keys to creating better days.
So is knowing what you want and making a plan to get there despite the obstacles.
And so is not wasting time looking for hexes when you haven’t been hexed.
Is it a hex or is it the pandemic and a dysfunctional society?
I find curses fascinating. I rarely use them – they’re the “big hammer” of magic, and if you use a big hammer when you need a screwdriver you’re just going to make things worse. I’m more interested in deconstructing them to learn more about the operative nature of magic. And of course, learning what I need to know to be able to deflect, counter, and break them.
But in practice, I don’t come across them all that often. Basic spiritual hygiene takes care of the low-level stuff. On the rare occasion I come across something more intense, I have more intense methods to handle it. And I have friends who are willing and able to help.
Using the right tool for the job means understanding what the job is, and what it isn’t.
And tools to fix hexes aren’t much help in dealing with a pandemic and a dysfunctional society.