Cursed again… a few notes

Well, I guess technically not a curse – really an affirmation of being already cursed (sorry did not notice) and an order to ‘go away’ (how does one do that in cyberspace?) or be smitten – by the Goddess Hecate no less. I guess She picked this up from hanging out too much with Yahweh? 🙂 

I am referring to a very interesting little comment by ‘Morgan’ on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn blog in response to my views on the revival of modern paganism. Scoot on over if you can be bothered. I am not sure if it makes interesting reading but does show two things. Firstly, how emotive some pagans can get over this issue and secondly how readily a few pagans resort to the concepts of cursing and retribution. Now of course the pagan traditions are not alone in having a few nutters in its midst who do curse; all religions and spiritual traditions do. Paganism, Wicca and the magical traditions however are unique in providing the concepts and in some cases the means by which to curse as part of their outer tradition and practices.

Now, to paraphrase the great Adrian Mole, I’m no stranger to curses. I was first cursed years back after writing an article for a local Perth Wiccan newsletter on, yes, the pagan revival. Nothing much changes. Of course I felt nothing and went along my merry way, writing more articles. This of course led to more curses, a few nasty phone calls and much venting. And I still felt nothing. Over the years as I pissed off a few more nut-case Wiccans and magicians I supposedly received more curses and yes, felt no ill effects.

I could go into the whole inner dynamics of cursing and why of course I would not be affected, pointing out the various subtle levels, openness, integral protection, magical links, blah blah blah. Of more interest however is the concept of cursing itself and how it sits or does not within magical and pagan traditions.

I am aware that a few pagan traditions curse rapists, even suggesting they are good to practice on (practice for cursing whom, I wonder). Most traditions however do not practice or teach curses for anyone and I have yet to see any Golden Dawn group legitimise the practice. This is one of the reasons I like the Golden Dawn and love the ethic ascribed to Christ of turning the other cheek rather than  fighting back. And this of course is the ultimate “protection” against any curse.

From my understanding cursing, and even preparing for a curse, damages the curse placer far more than the person who is being attacked. It certainly did in my case since I felt nothing. One of the most accurate descriptions of the effect of a curse is described by Evan John Jones in his ‘Witchcraft: a tradition renewed’. Here Jones describes how even though his group felt the curse was needed and justified it led to the break-up of the group and took years to shake off its damaging effects. This is what happens when we consciously fill our sphere with damaging energy.

OK…mini sermon ended, thanks 🙂

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14 comments

  1. David · November 9, 2010

    This might not be entirely related, I read the link and didn’t really see how you were cursed. A good read though about how much magical attacks do damage the person doing so is the book “The Black Lodge of Santa Cruz” its available in free pdf as the author released it amongst some OTO related stuff.

    I forget the name of the author of the aforementioned book off the top of my head. Though supposedly the books is a true story about a Crowley based magician’s encounters with the Caliphate of the OTO. If I read the book correctly both parties attacks left both parties suffering more so than the intended attack.

    I find the use of magic to manipulate another to be utterly stupid, if we are all a part of the one, then harming a person outside of ourselves harms us individually also.

  2. JR · November 9, 2010

    Interesting.
    As you touch upon, a curse only has power if you believe in that paradigm; or perhaps more aptly put ‘if one commits their will’ to such practices. I suggest the latter, because I have known of people who profess not to believe in any of it yet have still experienced the power of the curse however on later reflection have actually come to realise they commited their will to such beliefs and practices in the past- opening a ‘gateway’ if you like for what has occured in the present. I also use the word ‘will’ because all too often I see the Western scientific world reduce curses and magical practices in general down to purely mental process/ pop-psychology. eg- “If you believe in the boogie man you’ll start to see it”… suggesting it isn’t ‘real’ outside one’s own ‘reality’. From experience I am not sure this is so easy an assumption to make.

    You mention the Christian perspective of ‘turning the other cheek’ etc. The principle lying behind this I believe is the same lesson being echoed in any of the 10 commandments… essentially warning not to step out of God’s will/ order and take one’s life (or anothers) into one’s own hands.
    In this way, for me, curses are no different. They are centered around the self-centered idea of aspiring to have power and to weild it for one’s own gain and/ or detriment to another. When one does not choose to turn the other cheek, we are really observing then two people ‘fighting fire with fire’. There is then little wonder as to why it ends in tears…

  3. Peregrin · November 9, 2010

    Great comments, ‘JR’ – thanks. Good linking to the Commandments and living with God as our centre … thanks! 🙂

  4. Peregrin · November 9, 2010

    Thanks, David…can’t say I’ll look it up unless bored…but interesting 🙂

  5. Arcad · November 9, 2010

    I am not sure that I understand Morgan´s comment since I only followed the discussion in parts. I will catch up but without that, in a way I am not sure if he isn´t just being ironic. Apart from that I agree with you about the cursing thing. I do believe that a curse harms the curder more than the cursee and this mainly because he gets his mind and heart busy with negative thinking and energies, with all the well known effects. Of course there are a lot of people who say they do not believe in curses but most of them have some kind of an affinity to superstition of some kind and that may already be enough.

    in L.V.X.
    Arcad

  6. Peregrin · November 9, 2010

    Care Fr Arcad,

    yes well, I did initially think he was joking or iIronic, but on second reading thought he wasn’t. Other people’s reading of the comments, including David as Blog master, show they thought he was talking straight. Anyway…c’est la vie 🙂

    Yes, I agree a lot of people who say they don’t believe are open to these things. We are are very good at denial… I’ve even helped one Reiki master who came to me for help, sit there saying both that she was cursed and her Reiki symbols protect her from all harm. Back and forth she went between these two propositions – I did not have the heart to cause her further cognitive dissonance by pointing out the contradictions and went ahead with the healing being very quiet 🙂

    Thanks for the comments 🙂

  7. Nick Farrell · November 14, 2010

    Morgan is certainly being ironic… the fact that others didn’t get it is not their fault, in that they are American.
    Frankly I find the current attacks on Hutton a bit amusing. The assumption is that because he is an academic he cant be a pagan. In fact, Hutton is one of the leaders of the UK pagan community. He has done more than any one to popularise paganism in the UK. But I guess those wading into him did not know that.
    He is a brilliant speaker and knows his subject very well. His comments have also been backed up by other people’s researches.
    However most undergraduates would know that so called Pagan religion is nothing like the neo-pagan revival. The idea of a personal relationship with God was extremely rare. You cut the throat of an animal to stop the god wrecking your life and that was it. No emotional attachment. I tend to think modern neo-pagans have just repackaged Christianity and changed the names to protect the innocent.
    Hutton once said in one lecture “I know all these facts about the history paganism and what it did and mean…. but I don’t care… I know that modern paganism is not historically based… but I am still a pagan.”
    So much for David’s theory that Hutton is engaged in a Freudian attack on his mum for being a pagan. I
    Do I think that paganism survived? Not in the way that some would have it. Its role in ancient society was replaced by the church. The odd tradition may have slipped through but nothing coherent.

  8. Peregrin · November 14, 2010

    Ah, Nick… thanks…I was waiting for a third party to point out Huttons pagan connections and how he is obviously not a Christian apologist (OBOD isn’t it?) – and how he has many pagan friends and is respected.

    Good summation of difference between classic and neo-paganism too… thanks. Love your straight talking…

  9. Tony_Theprof · November 17, 2010

    On the ancient pagan culture, curses were very much part of a way of life, from Babylon and Egypt (curses on pottery then smashed) to the many curse tablets of the Greek and Roman worlds, where you could, it appears, even buy ready prepared ones with a blank for putting in the name.

    It’s a mindset that doesn’t really fit into modern paganism, but certainly fits with the traditions of cunning folk, who sometimes would curse people.

    In Guernsey, when I was researching Channel Island witchcraft, I came across the account reported from 1914 of Mrs Lake who was charged by the Connetable [in Guernsey, a Parish Chief of Police] with fortune telling, interpreting dreams. A Mrs Outen had asked for police protection after a spell had been cast on her by Mrs Lake condemning her to die unless she paid a specified sum (presumably a fee) to Mrs Lake. A police search by PC Lihou revealed buried six packers of powders composed of flour, brown starch, salt and baking powder. It transpired that the previous October, Mrs Outen’s cattle had died and gone to Mrs Lake who revealed (by divining tea leaves in a tea cup) that her cattle and her husband had died from witchcraft, and she was in fact under a spell. Powders were given to her to take as a counter-spell. Mrs Lake was charged not with witchcraft, but with “disorderly conduct”.

    That area of folk magic / cunning folk seems to be where a tradition of cursing was kept alive, and as I say, it seems a very different world (and mindset) from – for example – modern Wicca.

  10. Peregrin · November 17, 2010

    Thanks Tony for this interesting information. I have come across similar accounts from the late 19th century. Owen Davies to my mind remains one of the best authors on this subject. As you say cunning craft is very different from modern Wicca, a fact clearly pointed out by Prof Hutton too 🙂 I must wander off and look at your blog soon…too late now 🙂

  11. Nick Farrell · November 17, 2010

    I was told a few years ago that Jersey still had not repealed its witchcraft laws and occasionally rounded up fortune tellers

  12. Tony · November 17, 2010

    Jersey had not repealed its witchcraft laws (found in the Mirror of Justice), but they have been deemed to have fallen into disuse – I researched it extensively and spoke to one of the senior States Law Officers when I was writing my book “Channel Island Witchcraft: A Critical Survey”. In other words, the Attorney-General would not prosecute any such case today, because it would fail what is called “the evidential rule”. This was also confirmed to me uin writing by the law officer.

    Back in the early 1980s, a well known clairvoyant was told to stop practicing for money, as there was customary laws against the practice of astrology or clairvoyance for gain, and the fundamentalist Christian lobby badgered the Attorney-General (with a mass letter writing campaign) to force her to stop; the police actually had a policewomen pose as a client in a “sting” operation. The ruling was that gain was the factor, and astrology or clairvoyance could be practiced quite happily otherwise.

    However, times have changed significantly, and there have been numerous events at public places such as the Jersey Opera House in the period 2000-2010 for which tickets are sold, and the advertisement is for “An Evening of Clairvoyance”, the most recent being Derek Acorah. As any public entertainment has to be given the approval of Jersey’s Bailiff (the President of the Jersey Parliament and Senior Judge – not to be confused with ‘the bailiffs’!), it is extremely unlikely that any prosecution would now take place as the Senior Judge is effectively permitting clairvoyance for gain, and has done for some time.

    Local fortune tells whom I know personally (one is a Wiccan) have a licence to operate as an “astrologer” which in practice covers anything from astrology to tarot readings.

    Some local Wiccans like to say that the witchcraft laws haven’t been repealed and what they are doing is illegal (with the suggestion that they could be persecuted tomorrow) purely to add a frisson to their practice!

    Incidentally, there is definitely no historical connection whatsoever between those accused (and burnt in Jersey and Guernsey) for witchcraft and modern Wicca. There is no indication that any of the locals accused were practicing any kind of pagan rituals, but there are clear indications that accusations functioned as a scapegoating mechanism.

    The pre-war (1900-1940) period had some local cunning folk, wart charmers, healers on the “low magic” side, and theosophists and egyptian magic folk on the other, but they never really got mixed, being different social classes. Moreoever, a lot of the charms involved items like a piece of paper folded over with a verse of scripture on it.

    There was also (naturally in a mostly illiterate society) great stock given to the “black books”, Le Grand Albert and Le Petit Albert, but in fact these were mass produced grimoires by French publishers, drawing on lore from the Middle ages (and hence in the public domain and cheap) and not handwritten tomes.

  13. Peregrin · November 17, 2010

    Thanks once more for this interesting information Tony. It all ties in with what I have read. When I was active in the Pagan community in the 80s and 90s I researched the Law here. Because when the Australian States were founded the English 1951 Fraudulent Mediums Act (I think) did not exist, we incorporated large areas of English law into our Criminal Code. Therefore it was still illegal in some States to ‘pretend to tell fortunes’. There were the occasional ‘sting’ operations as you describe in the 80s and some fines, but this seems to have stopped now. There were moves from the Pagan community to try and get these clauses removed from the Criminal Code, but I am not sure how successful that has been.

    I think the point you make about the effect of the British class system had on practitioners is very interesting. It is something I tend to forget. Thanks 🙂

  14. Pingback: Neopaganism and Academia | Abhainn - the blog

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