Think You’ve Been Cursed?

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This is another one of the topics that gets posted pretty regularly on occult and magickal discussion boards: “I think I’ve been cursed!” or “Don’t post pictures online or you’ll be cursed!” or some variation of those. Here’s the simple response: magick isn’t like Hollywood depicts — curses are actually very rare and it’s extremely unlikely you’ll ever encounter a real curse let alone be subjected to one.

People often have an almost pathological need to avoid taking responsibility for their own screw-ups and don’t want to admit that negative consequences they are experiencing might be the result of something they did. We all know people like that — they’re the ones who have such poor decision-making skills that everyone around them can see their mistakes a mile away. We’re all susceptible to ignoring the facts at times and make poor choices. It’s not always about our own bad decisions, though. Yes, bad things can happen to people that come out of the blue, not due to our own decisions; these can be random chance, or the result of things we really couldn’t have anticipated, and 99% of the time have absolutely nothing to do with curses or hexes or bad mojo.

Doing magick, and doing BIG magick, is actually really difficult. It takes a lot of effort, knowledge, and skill. If someone really wanted to put a curse on you they’d have to go to a lot of effort to do so and even then it might not work at all. Why would a magickal practitioner waste energy on cursing others when they could be using that energy to make lives better for their loved ones or for themselves? And if you don’t have any actual enemies who are invested in cursing you, why on earth would a stranger out there bother putting energy into cursing someone they’ve spotted on the internet?

The idea that posting pictures on the internet, particularly of one’s altar or of one’s magickal working tools (tarot deck, athame, wand, etc.) could make you a target for curses is particularly ridiculous. It’s based on the idea that those photos could be used as a magickal link to you, and evil magickal practitioners out there on the internet are eager to toss hexes at people foolish enough to post pictures like that. Except history and basic logic shows that fear is pretty much without merit.

If this were truly a problem, you’d never be able to find photos of altars or magickal working tools anywhere, especially from experienced magickal practitioners. Except we can — all over the place! Lots of famous authors who wrote about magick felt no fear posing for photos in full ritual gear, performing actual rituals, for their own books and in lots of instances for the mainstream media as well. Alex and Maxine Sanders, just as two examples, became world famous for their media appearances. They did numerous rituals for the cameras, and frequently posed in ritual dress (or undress) along with their ritual tools. Gerald Gardner (who founded Wicca) is another who was an early “media Witch.” He even ran a Witchcraft museum which included his own ritual tools, and ritual tools borrowed from other witches, on display for anyone who wanted to see or photograph them. (You can still see lots of authentic working tools, including tools of living and practicing witches, on display at places such as the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle UK, or the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Cleveland OH USA.)

Other modern Witches who had no difficulties being photographed for books and for the media, and having their altars and working tools photographed, include such luminaries as Doreen Valiente, Sybil Leek, Patricia Crowther, Janet & Stewart Farrar, Laurie Cabot, and more. None of them ever complained about being cursed or having to deal with negative influences as a result of any of their appearances or photos.

There are scammers out there, particularly on the internet, who thrive on encouraging people to fear. It’s a standard “magick scam” to encourage a victim to believe that they’ve been cursed, and then to claim to have effective rituals they can perform to remove the curse from the client. And of course it will only cost the victim five easy payments of $69.95 (or whatever). And after the ritual is performed, and the payment is complete, guess what? Oops — that darn evil cursing magician cursed you again, and this time the ritual to fix things will cost more because it’s a more involved spell! And this will go on and on and on so long as the victim is willing to pay more and more to the scammer who convinced the victim that they were cursed in the first place.

Everyone has something “wrong” in their lives, and it’s very easy to be convinced that it’s the result of bad luck, or being cursed, if you are open to the idea. We are all potential victims for scammers. But knowing that it’s a common scam and based on unfounded fears is an excellent inoculation against becoming a victim.