This needs a page break, as it is rather long. I’m discussing experience, my personal thoughts, and a few confusions I have. Again, this is all my personal opinions, not anyone else.
I remember reading online somewhere, it must have been a forum I was a part of, that magic required intent to be performed/enacted. Nothing more, and nothing less. The rest of it was all trappings, sure it helped, but the intent was the part that was important, above all else. So, in the case of curses, curse-jars, physical manifestations, etc…all of that was, well optional to this person’s opinion. Nice to have, and very useful for directing attention/focus, but not necessary in the slightest for practice or craft.
Rather, it was the opinion of the particular forum I found myself on. And I distinctly remember a debate about this idea too on the forum. I didn’t participate. I was allowed on the forum, but I was only around 13 or 14, and the mods had told me that I couldn’t participate, only read/learn, because I wasn’t 18 (their rules were that minors could be observers, but not actively participate on the forums. I could have, I guess – in hindsight – set up a fake profile and lied about my age, but I never did that, so I just observed). So I read the debates and learned a lot, but I was distinctly confused at the steadfast anger a few of the posters had on sticking to the idea that it was intent alone that made magic work. They refused to consider that anything else at all would help/affect magic and its working. They got quite snappy when confronted by other people who said that personal experience differed between board members, and said that anyone who needed anything outside of intent were clearly lacking in talent, and were deluding themselves into thinking they were practicing magic. (Yes, I had some fun observing on these kinds of forums. They weren’t even dedicated “pagan” or “witchcraft” forums either.)
This idea that it was only intent that mattered always struck me as rather funny. I mean….the example that always came to mind for me was the kid who says, “I hope you get hit by a car.” I mean, that’s a curse at its heart. You’re stating the intent that the person suffers ill-will/damage (to me that’s a curse). If intent alone were all that mattered, well then every time someone intensely willed this towards another person, it would happen. Or at least, that’s how I’ve always seen this whole “intent alone” thing as playing out in the real world.
And, in my personal experience, if intent was all I ever needed, well my dad’s ex-wife would be cursed dead a hundred times over by now. The woman made my life hell for 9 years, verbally and emotionally abusing me, constantly causing me trouble. If intent were all I needed to curse her, she would have been suffering and gone long before my dad finally divorced her. So I’ve always believed, from my personal experience, that intent alone is not enough to curse someone. If it were, I could have easily cursed the woman out of my life nearly a decade ago. I would have done it the day she told me that she would do anything to get me out her and my dad’s life because she didn’t want me anywhere near the two of them, because it was “their life together” and I “wasn’t welcome in it”.
On the other hand, I do believe in putting out a call to the gods, spirits, or ancestors to curse people. That is different from the above stuff I explained. Or, it seems that way to me. I think this counts as majorly personal in definition, but in this way, I look at it as asking them to intercede on my behalf. It’s like petitioning, or that’s how I look at it. I’ve always seen this part as being more like the prayers that people send to their gods. I think this part, petitioning to spirits, ancestors or gods, is like asking for help. It’s a kind of “business arrangement” deal. I ask for them to curse someone, and in return I do X-task for them, whether it be offerings, or something in my life as a promise. It isn’t any different to me than regular prayer or petitioning for any other actions in life.
Now, personally, I’ve only ever cursed one person in my life. It wasn’t the traditional, full-blown make an item and focus on it that way. I went about it in the secondary manner that I described, petitioning. I also have a rather peculiar way of looking to curse this particular person. I figure, asking for anything particular is too easy on them. After all that they put me through, I want them to suffer. So I instead went for a bit more unusual wording. I asked that this person suffer “that which they had inflicted on me”. I figure, nearly 10 years of misery and returned suffering ought to be pretty good recompense for what I went through. I’m sure that there is probably the real fact that this person will not realize what is happening to them, because they’re just that dense, and that awful of a person, but that’s okay. I’m at peace with having done that.
I know that quite a few people have moral objections to cursing. They think that it is reprehensible and awful. I’m fully fine with those people having their objections. I don’t think though that I’m morally wrong in my choice to have the option to curse if I need to or feel that I want to do so. Personally, I feel that curses are a valid option at time. However, some people feel that is not an option. Still, to me, the choice should remain personal. People are different, and the morals that they hold are going to be different on a situation like that. For one person, cursing is completely immoral. For another person, a situation like mine means that a curse to that person is perhaps an option to be considered. Not perhaps the best moral option, but one that is not to be condemned in the slightest. After all, there’s never a way to know for sure what is going through a person’s head when they do an action.
I don’t really understand the shame that people place on those who curse others. There’s nothing inherently bad about cursing. It has its place in magical practice, or at least, that’s how I see it. I’m not going to close myself off from a whole avenue of options, just because someone or some group has arbitrarily determined that they are “immoral” and “bad”, and therefore off-limits. What is shameful about cursing? That’s the thing that confuses me the most. I’ve never understood that at all. The shame put on cursing is an attitude that I’ve been unable to fathom, since it seems to me just another type of magical practice, just like spells of any other type.
Now, if a personal believes that it is morally wrong to perform curses, then they shouldn’t perform them. However, I don’t think then that they should condemn others for doing it. I don’t question people on their personal practices anyway, so how it usually comes up is beyond me as well. But, if it does come up, this seems like one of those things that different practitioners, traditions, and even religions will see differently. I mean, what one person/group sees as a curse could be considered neutral or innocuous to another group/person. So even defining curses is problematic for me.
I suppose, I stand that I don’t like performing curses. They bother me personally, because they make me feel as though I’ve set foot into something I don’t want to deal with (very true, no doubt). So I don’t do them, personally. At least, not unless I absolutely must. I’ve done 1, to someone who deeply deserves every rotten thing coming to them. Otherwise, I prefer to not do anything like that. It is something I’ll always keep open as an option, because I refuse to limit myself unnecessarily, but I’m not going to dabble into something that I’m not really that familiar or comfortable with. Curses are definitely something I’ll always keep an eye for, to keep learning about. But they’ll always be my absolute last resort, for use when everything else has failed me.∗