The acupuncturist couldn’t figure it out. “You definitely have the will – really strong will. But something’s blocking it.” He didn’t want to admit he couldn’t figure it out. He asked, mumbling at high speed, “Do you believe in curses?”
His eyes widen, his neck and chest stop moving as he holds his breath. He really wants to slide past this conversation but he’s obligated to ask according to his tradition of practice. I laugh it off to make him more comfortable. “I have pissed a few people off over the years.” Actually, I know I’ve been jinxed, hexed and at least twice outright cursed. I don’t tell him this – first of all, no one has killed me. Second of all, my more serious problems – the allergies, the PTSD, the constant sense of obligation – those have nothing to do with passing through a cloud of someone’s petty magical temper tantrum.
We move on, the treatment is fine, but he just can’t let go of the idea that weight loss will fix my allergy problems. He just won’t run the blood test I know I need, and he doesn’t really do any diagnostics to see what it is that blocks the flow of chi representing my will. I think he’s afraid of what he’ll find – if we found what I know is there he would have to rethink both his physical and his metaphysical assumptions.
I stop seeing him because my allergies are getting worse instead of better, not because of the cursing question.
Three weeks later I finally find an allergist that actually runs tests and updates them. I have the diagnostics I need, and it’s a surprise to me, but not to the doctor, who immediately recognizes me as a person that has his own disease – I have chronic hives because my asthma is so severe that it affects that respiratory organ we call the skin.
But the cursing question forces me to think about my history with the questions of curses, hauntings, and obnoxious entities living, dead and mechanic.
He’s not the first person to ask me that.
The people that do ask me that all come from outside of Wiccan culture, outside of white culture. The acupuncturist was the first Caucasian to seriously consider the possibility and I watched the conflict in his face. His training told him to consider the possibility: his whiteness to reject it.
While I do my damnedest to take life’s hurdles in stride, every step made forward always has come with some sort of pull back. The pullback happens so predictably that sometimes I even plan for it, bank on it, work it into the big picture and try to strategize around it just because sometimes the place where things go awry is so obvious. Someday I might even leverage that bad-luck puppy. It’s just periodic misfortune – for me, at regular intervals. I accept it, ride it, move forward anyway. Just because something goes wrong doesn’t mean I need to give up every change I make. If I still feel good about the changes then the stuff outside my control doesn’t matter.
To people outside my immediate paradigm this looks like something other than periodic bad luck because it’s too periodic.
Among the white Pagan population we like to say that curses are very, very bad, and that curses are very, very rare. When someone thinks they’ve been cursed most effort goes into emphasizing the relative rarity of such phenomena and most of the time such concerns are dismissed without any investigation at all into the possibility. It parallels my experience with allergy treatment – experts just didn’t want to run the diagnostic tests. The medical aspects are expensive, complicated, and as a woman without children my life is marked as one of lesser value to the medical profession. I also encounter people who act as though allergies are nothing, just a runny nose or a minor inconvenience. Even after I explain what it’s like for me, they either counter with their own experiences or try to reframe it in their minds so that my experience is just like theirs (when it’s not even remotely similar – most allergies do not prevent people from walking like mine can.)
Similar things happen when someone thinks they’re experiencing a curse or aggressive haunting. But unlike the medical field, diagnosing such a possibility is usually easily affordable and does not take much time. Clearing a curse may take work – and I’m at a point where I quite willingly pay a more experienced professional to help me with these things because some magic you just can’t do alone. Identifying a curse or haunting – or ruling out it out – doesn’t take nearly as much time.
There are good reasons for denying curses and minimizing hauntings mostly in the name of avoiding charlatanism, but I think those traditions of thought need discarding.
I propose a new tradition: investigation.
Investigating the possibility that someone is cursed respects that person’s experience while encouraging that person to accept that experience might have a different cause than thought. Treating experiences as valid curries mutual respect.
Most magic workers I know encourage ruling out logical explanations first. It’s an admonishment to keep to the scientific reasoning method and to continue to look for a logical explanation so you do not sweep off into being a whacky hippie.
I actually like to rule out the metaphysical first. It’s cheaper. It’s also faster. Since most of the time there really is no curse, ruling it out first allows a healing relief.
- Paul Huson was right. The longer you practice magic, the more likely it is you’re going to conflict with someone else who practices magic. Witch wars aren’t just cold wars and I live in a zone that is only now settling down after some crap that happened in the 70s when those witches were young and full of themselves. I don’t know what happened, and I really don’t care. I’ve been busy being a witch from the 90s that was young and full of herself. I’ve been practicing long enough that I just have to consider the possibility that my ego conflicting with another’s ego led to some kind of magical fallout. In my twenties I literally watched one woman convince herself I was cursing her when I’d done absolutely nothing of the kind – she did it because she wanted to justify her own choices. Pagans are far, far from immune to projection and denial.
- Let’s say you have a draft, or you have a spirit playing with your candle. Ghosts are cheap. Home repairs are not.
- Having a curse lifted by someone else can cost anywhere from a bottle of mead to thousands of dollars (the ones in the thousands are usually of the charlatan variety, but not always. References and basic logic are good.) Medical treatments can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and if you get cancer right into six and even seven figures. If you read this carefully, you know I write this with full understanding of the importance and value of BOTH the traditional (allopathic) and holistic medical fields. Now if only we could get both sides to stop dick sizing and start talking to each other – or at least running studies together.
So, that established, here are ways to diagnose a curse.
Diagnosing a Curse
Your best bet is to tag team this – find someone who you trust who has no opinion either way about what’s happening to you. It should be someone who respects that you are experiencing what you say you are experiencing but who is not so resonant that they start to experience it the way you do, too.
- The easy way is to use a pendulum. Have your friend wait outside of a room where the pendulum is. Go in, pick up the pendulum. Assign it one direction for yes, the other for no, and ask if you’re experiencing a curse. Ask three times. See what it says. Leave the room, have your friend go on the room and pick up the pendulum and do the same thing. When finished, compare results. If it says yes, on to uncrossing and cleansing you go.
- You can also go to a tarot card reader, or throw cards for yourself. You might (or might not) get more specifics that way. Look especially for swords, the Tower, and for significator cards. If you see a professional don’t tell that person what you’re asking about – if the reader is any good, it will come up on the spread.
- If you really need to cut through the crap right now, use runes. There is no divination more direct on the yes and no answers than runes.
Personally, I use the Wheel of Wisdom tool – there’s one setting on there that goes great to “you need to do uncrossings and protections” if something is up.
If these methods aren’t great for you, there is one other way that is much less reliable: glass candle burning. If you burn a seven day glass candle and soot gathers on the glass you either have a bad candle or you have negativity energy to clean up. It’s best to test this two or three times with different candles obtained from different makers. You need not use the same candle every time or even let it burn all the way down – if there’s really something going on, the soot gathers fast.
If it comes up you’re not cursed – the more likely option – then you need to evaluate your behavior, your medical needs and even the people around you.