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an ecclesiastical censure of excommunication


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Also referred to as a hex, a curse is used in black magic to bring misfortune or even death to the victim. It is a spell that is usually spoken; it may take the form of a simple statement wishing ill on the person, or it may be in the form of an intricate chant or ritual. Since it is negative, it would be done only by a Black Magician and never by a Witch, whose creed does not permit the harming of any person or thing.

As with all magic, the intent is most important. To simply say "I curse you" is seldom effective. There must be absolute hatred to generate sufficient power to make the curse effective. A deathbed curse is supposed to be especially effective since the perpetrator literally puts every last ounce of energy into it.

Many of the witchcraft trials of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries contained evidence that someone believed themselves cursed after the accused was seen to "mutter to herself." At her trial in 1493, Elena Dalok was accused of bringing rain at her command, and it was said, "she has cursed very many who never lived in this world thereafter." Kittredge reports that in 1596, Goody Jones, of Barking, was approached by a neighbor to give her some medicine for the colic. Instead, Goody Jones "fell down upon her knees, and after many curses and evil speeches, prayed that (her neighbor) might never be cured. . . since which time (she) . . . doth lay in great misery, and can find no ease." Francis Moore of Huntingdonshire, England, said in 1646, "if she cursed any cattle, and set her dog upon them, they should presently die." At the same trial Elizabeth Weed of Great Catworth confessed, "whomsoever she cursed and sent her cat unto, they should die shortly after." Historically, there have been "family curses" in which a family has been cursed, perhaps "to the seventh generation."

Old wishing wells are found throughout Britain. Less well known, there are also cursing wells. Such a one is to be found at Llanelian-yn-Rhos, in North Wales,

near Colwyn Bay. At this well, ill-wishers could toss down the well a lead box containing the name of the one they wished harm upon. For a fee, the well keeper would retrieve the box. In similar vein, in Haiti a curse may be placed on a person, for a fee, by a Boko, or black magician. The Boko will then play perpetrator and victim against one another, removing or replacing the curse for the highest bidder.

Although the word hex is most often applied in a negative sense, like "curse,"

positive hexes can be found in the Pennsylvania Dutch form of witchcraft.

(see also Blasting and Poppets)



Ancient Mariner
cursed by the crew because his slaying of the albatross is causing their deaths. [Br. Poetry: Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner]
king of the dwarfs; his malediction spurs many events in the Nibelungenlied. [Norse Myth.: Bulfinch]
Atreus, house of
cursed by Thyestes, whose children Atreus had served to him in a stew. [Gk. Legend: Benét, 61]
cursed by God for murdering Abel. [O. T.: Genesis 4:11]
dying at the hand of her son Alcmaeon, she curses any land that would shelter him. [Gk. Myth.: Benét, 20]
Family Reunion, The
the Eumenides haunt a decaying English family because the head of the house had plotted to kill his pregnant wife. [Br. Drama: Magill II, 321]
Flying Dutchman
sea captain condemned to sail unceasingly because he had invoked the Devil’s aid in a storm. [Maritime legend: Brewer Dictionary]
Harmonia’s necklace
brought disaster to all who possessed it. [Gk. Myth.: Benét, 442]
Maule, Matthew
about to be executed as a wizard, laid a bloody doom on the Pyncheons. [Am. Lit.: Hawthorne The House of the Seven Gables]
Melmoth the Wanderer
doomed by a curse to roam the earth for 150 years after his death. [Br. Lit.: Melmoth the Wanderer]
wrested by an English officer from Buddhist priests, who place a curse on all who possess it. [Br. Lit.: Collins The Moonstone in Benét, 683]
Murgatroyd, Sir Rupert
he and all future lords of Ruddigore are doomed by a witch to commit a crime a day forever. [Br. Opera: Gilbert and Sullivan Ruddigore]
cursed the house of Atreus, who had served him his sons in a stew. [Gk. Myth. & Drama: “Atreus,” Benét, 61]
Tutankhamen’s tomb
its opening supposed to have brought a curse upon its excavators, some of whom died soon after. [Pop. Cult.: Misc.]
References in periodicals archive ?
(10) Ben Jonson, "An Execration Upon Vulcan," in Ian Donaldson, ed., Ben Jonson: A Critical Edition of the Major Works (Oxford U.
He told the House: "I rejoice at what I have heard tonight, by which we find that almost without exception, the African Slave Trade has been held up in this House to the execration of mankind.
It was received with surprisingly widespread acclaim, given the scandal surrounding the author's imprisonment for homosexual offences that formed the subject matter of the ballad and the near--universal execration and banishment from polite society that had accompanied his fall.
Emigration no longer came to be regarded as "social execration" of undesirable people.
The lower Classes, who from the first had espoused the cause of Dorrego, were loud in their Execration against his murderers, and Employed themselves acting and with success in seducing the Soldiers, the women especially have taken a great share in these proceedings.
A man may disbelieve in God, heaven and hell; he may care little for mankind, or society, or for the nation to which he belongs-- let him at least be plainly told what are the acts which will stamp him with infamy, hold him up to public execration, and bring him to the gallows, the gaol or the lash.
Surveying Jonson's work and historical context, Ellinghausen explores the status and practices of brick-layers in early modern London, Jonson's treatment of Vulcan as a character (in "An Execration upon Vulcan"), and his derision of Inigo Jones' labor.
Cependant l'archange Michel, dans la contestation qu'il eut avec le diable touchant le corps de Moise, n'osa le condamner avec execration; mais il se contenta de dire: Que le Seigneur te reprime.
The relation between antisemitic language and antisemitic attitudes can culminate in the execration of Jews and the wish for their extermination because "a Jew is a Jew," as is bluntly expressed in the statement below.
She wrote, "'The execration of the world,' in philosopher G.E.M.
Like the grandson, who anticipates an audience with his grandmother after the sentencing, Meursault wants an audience for his execution: "all that remained was to hope that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration" (ibid.