I’m not writing this to give anyone some sort of moral code or to impose any ethics. I think that any sort of spell-work is up to the spellcaster’s discernment, but that doesn’t mean everyone has good discernment. I don’t necessarily believe in the three-fold law, and as quoted in Fluffy Bunny Witches, neither did Doreen Valiente. I do believe that there are times to defend oneself and times when we must do magick for social justice and I had asked several different leaders in the magical community what their thoughts were on the subject of cursing and social justice in The Hex Appeal of Activism. However, there seems to be this growing idea that one can curse as much as they want without any consequence. I think this is absolutely foolish. Every type of magick that we do has a consequence – not necessarily a good or a bad one, but as such every form of magick that we perform should be meditated upon and another reason why we seek divination before performing any spellwork.
“As a Hermetic-Qabalistic Witch, everything that moves from source seeks to return to source eventually. All our creations energetically return to us, as their source, on some level. When they are what we want, we call that return a successful manifestation. Even in non-Wiccan or non-Hermetic traditions, there is the concept of “paying the coin” or having to take some level of responsibility for what you have created, and what you have cursed. So do any magick consciously, and be prepared for the consequences of your actions.”
– Christopher Penczak
The Hex Appeal of Activism
I have performed curses in the past and they’ve worked effectively, sometimes frighteningly so. I have never cast a curse over feeling like someone has wronged me, it’s hard to get me to that place of anger over myself. The few curses that I have cast have been over feeling protective of those that I love and feeling like they’ve been threatened. Sometimes the repercussion is unnoticeable, sometimes however, the curse working is my payment. It’s easy to curse out of anger at someone who seems to be threatening, but with most of my own previous curses, watching the target fall to their knees and become intensely vulnerable and suffering was enough to make me regret ever casting the curse. This point is perfectly illustrated in the Craft, where Rochelle curses the racist bully and then feels horrible when she’s watching the bully crying in the shower helpless as all her hair falls from her head. In retrospect there’s probably better ways I could have handled the situation and these days I’m not quick at all to curse and will go through every other channel possible until it gets to that point, and almost every time some other form of magick will resolve the issue in a more peaceful manner.
I know a lot of magickal practitioners of all types of traditions and experience levels. I’m always observing others and myself when it comes to magick, because I believe a good occultist has a somewhat ‘scientific’ mind of observation and recording thing instead of believing anything blindly. One thing that I’ve noticed about those who curse casually is that they become addicted to cursing. Suddenly they constantly draw dramatic situations and threats towards them on some weird energetic level that gives them reasons or excuses to “need to curse”. Slowly their lives turn into this constant struggle. They become blocked in other areas of their lives. They begin battling deep depression when they had none previously. People begin distancing themselves from the person. Life starts showering them with what can only be called ‘bad luck’.
It’s hard not to believe through observation that they’ve somehow cursed themselves. Often though, I watch as these people don’t make the connection between the type of magick that they’re continually casting and what is occurring within their lives. Just because it’s not a tit for tat consequence, they don’t see how their curses and what is occurring in their lives are connected. Now I’m not saying anyone who casts a curse will ruin their lives. I am specifically talking about those who thoughtlessly feel that they can cast as many curses as they want without any consequence. I think Robin Artisson sums it up perfectly. In an article entitled ‘Hex the Other, Hex the Self” in Letters from the Devil’s Forest, Robin discusses how every spell that we cast, we cast on ourselves first since the spell comes from the depths within ourselves.
“You probably aren’t suffering from any “return” bad luck on that curse you sent out – you’re suffering from a successful curse because in a world of wholeness, if you succeed at cursing another person, you’ve done that to yourself, too. The perceptually tangible manifestation of that curse need not be the same on you, as your target; they may lose their job, but you may discover feelings of fear, frustration or dissatisfaction invading you about many things that you can’t explain.
It may be a new range of nightmares, or just the unexplained unease that follows so many people. It may be the decline of your luck-force in subtle ways that don’t impact you until much later. It may be the unexplainable loss of something you cherished, perhaps not even a tangible something- but a psychological something or emotional something.”
– Robin Artisson
Letters from the Devil’s Forest: An Anthology of Writings on Traditional Witchcraft, Spiritual Ecology and Provenance Traditionalism
Once again, I am not here to police your magick. Do as thou wilt. I just wanted to share my own personal observation as a warning. Your own observations and experiences may differ. However, almost every magical tradition that I know of has a similar caution. That caution is to realize that there’s always a price to pay for any sort of magick. The question is, is it worth the payment? Sometimes the answer is no, sometimes the answer is yes. This is a personal matter that only the witch themselves can decide upon.