No Curses

Lots of people associate paganism, especially witchcraft, with curses. One of the most commonly asked questions I get from non-pagans is ‘do you do curses?’ (It comes along with queries about dancing naked and sacrificing virgins.) Traditionally, curses have been a part of paganism – cunning folk did it and so did our ancient ancestors. However, in today’s ethical climate, it’s not a comfortable issue.

Wishing ill on people, no matter what they’ve done to you, is unethical. It’s not something I have ever done, nor would I consider doing it. There’s a secondary issue that it’s not good to be filled up with hatred and a hunger for revenge. Thirdly, many pagan folk believe in ideas like karma, and the wiccan notion of threefold return- what we do comes back to us. So in thought as well as deed, it’s not ok to send malevolence to another.

So what do you do, when conventional justice does not seem available? I think we all have moments when someone drives us to despair or rage, and we have no viable scope for responding. What do you wish for, or pray for? So below, partly for my own amusement, partly for yours, are some entirely ethical, but not remotely nice responses for when you don’t have any other options.

Wish them self knowledge and the chance to fully understand who they are and how others perceive them.

Wish them learning opportunities, and the chance to understand the impact of their actions.

Wish them the opportunity to share in what they have given you.

Wish them a conscience.

If you can’t tackle a person directly about wrongs committed, sometimes it helps to imagine them in front of you (when no one else is around to think you are crazy) and say aloud all the things you wish them to hear and understand. It’s a good way of venting and getting it out of your head and heart.

Above all else, wish for poetic justice, and imagine what form that would take. I’m going to come back on the poetic justice issue because it’s such an interesting one, both from a writing and a druidic perspective.

2 thoughts on “No Curses”

  1. Above all else, wish for poetic justice….

    On 30 December 1994, the following notice was posted on alt.pagan:

    Something evil walks in Massachusetts. At ten-fifteen this morning, the thirtieth of December, two abortion clinics in Brookline were attacked by one or possibly two gunmen, presumably of the Fundie variety…. Two are dead, seven are wounded.

    My immediate response:

       The awen is upon me.  Hear:

          I speak no spell offending   the Rede of “harm ye none”,
          But chant this charm intending   that justice will be done:
          Let truth be found for mending   the wrong these killers brought,
          To infamy unending   for all the goals they sought.

          Let truth be told in every word,   the killers’ hiding places;
          Let truth be seen and truth be heard,   the killers’ names and faces.

          That none need longer wonder   who drove them to this deed,
          Provoked this fatal blunder,   inspired them with a creed,
          Let lies be torn asunder   to show their hidden guide;
          Let this be published under   the tale of those who died.

          Let truth be told for all to know,   the guilty ones be named;
          May killers and their leaders show   their face and be ashamed.

          Three times this charm recited,  the Furies to invoke;
          Thricefold these Three invited   to judge the words I spoke.
          “Return threefold” incited   against abusive spells;
          May I thus be indicted   if truth against me tells.

          Let truth be told, I say again,   no matter where it’s hidden;
          And be they women, be they men,   their full exposure bidden.


  2. Someone in a crowd of President Harry Truman’s cheering supporters shouted, “Give ’em hell, Harry!” (referring to his Republican opposition in Congress).

    Harry shouted back: “I don’t give them hell, I give them the truth and they think it’s hell!”

    Well, there’s the hope of my “Cantrip to Catch Killers” above… which I did have the misfortune to require dusting off on several later occasions.


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