Recently, I had the experience of stumbling across a blog written by someone who wrote a curse of sorts. For those who are not familiar with this concept, a curse is perhaps most easily explained as a very intense wish for misfortune to be visited upon an object. It is certainly not something that is limited to Pagans or practitioners of magical systems – a curse can easily manifest in the form of a prayer to a god (or other being), to bring harm or misfortune to an object. Even the common, “I hope so-and-so gets what’s coming to him,” can be considered a mild sort of curse. While I’m not one to tell others that their beliefs are wrong, I have little difficulty with stating that I’ve found cursing to be an unwise way to expend energy, no matter how unpopular this might cause me to be in certain circles of people, and here’s why ….For starters, a curse is something that signals defeat. That may sound sort of strange, as lowering a curse on someone might provide a feeling of empowerment (especially if the object of the curse cowers and shivers in dread of the mighty and unholy powers the curse weaver has just unleashed). But that’s the rub: by resorting to a curse, one seeks a feeling of empowerment they are already missing in a situation. They cannot solve or influence the problem at hand in any other way; so they use a curse. It also signals weakness in another way: life shows us that the creative path often requires much more work and effort than the destructive path; in resorting to a curse, the curse weaver caves under the pressure of not being able to think of a more creative / productive way through the problem … the vehemence of a curse is often related to the pressure the curse weaver has just caved under. I do not much enjoy admitting defeat and general helplessness; so I have learned to direct my energy toward more creative solutions to problems.
A second point is that curses often call on or invoke the names of gods and other beings. This is another signal for defeat, in the form of an admission that the curse weaver requires a god or some other being to do their work for them. While I do believe that the gods and wights of this world take an interest in us and our lives, and I do believe that they intervene at times, I tend to think that they tire of people who think they exist to do our bidding. If we, for example, had woven a curse way back when, calling on the gods to drive the Nazis to a painful and bloody end, we would have been making a couple of dangerous assumptions in the process. One of these assumptions would have been that the gods were blind to what was going on. Second, we would have assumed that the gods needed our power to direct theirs. The first assumption I find insulting, and the second assumption is simply arrogant. As it turns out, I’m sure there were lots and lots of people cursing the Nazis back then, and they did get put down painfully and with the loss of much blood (and not just their own, I’d like to point out). History shows that this tends to happen: all things must end at some point, and that which begins in bloodiness tends to end the same way. Does this happen because someone sits around and channels the wrath of the gods; or does this happen because it is simply the way of things? I tend to think the latter is more likely than the former and, as such, I think it’s simply more productive to let Nature and the gods work in their own way while we work in ours.
I do not believe curse weavers are bad people. I would like to state that clearly and openly. I do, however, believe that curses open the doors to hatred in our hearts. We might be misguided enough to believe that this process unleashes hatred in an outward direction from our hearts, and that this process lends us (or demonstrates) power; but these doors invariably swing both ways, and exercising our hatred (as with anything else) only makes it stronger. As I wrote some time ago, in a post about the hatred in the Middle East, when we fill ourselves with hate, we give up our own humanity in the exchange. Cursing is seductive, hatred is seductive, and the empowerment felt by unleashing a hate-filled curse is seductive. We can use fancy Latin words for our curses, like execration; but seduction (another word based in Latin) by hatred is where our curses come from, and this word simply means ‘to lead astray.’
So, an action that signals defeat and an utter lack of personal empowerment, an action that demonstrates to myself and everyone else that I have caved under the pressure of not being able to use my energy in a way that supports the creative side of life, an action that risks insulting gods and other magical beings while taking on an incredible amount of arrogance unto my own self, an action that fuels hatred and makes it stronger, an action that leads me astray – all for the misfortune of an object that is itself impermanent – is simply unwise in my experience. There are better, more creative ways in which I can use my energy to solve my problems; and it is to this path that I have dedicated myself for a very long time. For those who disagree with this interpretation, I can respect that you might see things very differently and still wish you the inspiration and strength you might need to allow your more creative energies to grow and make less room for hatred in your hearts. When you match hatred with hatred, it is only hatred that wins.