Cursing 101: Is Cursing Wrong Or Is There More To The Story?
In any discussion about baneful magic there will be talk of the moral implications behind throwing this kind of magic around. Some people prefer to approach it with a “magic shouldn’t be used for harm” mindset and others view magic as a means for reaching your own ends and taking control of your life, thus justifying the use of curses, hexes and so on.
I’m going to be breaking down some of these arguments but let me be clear: my thoughts and feelings on the matter are by no means the only valid way to approach this subject. As always, in your personal craft your thoughts and feelings are what takes precedent. I make no judgements on whether or not a witch should or should not curse, I’m simply here to give you a more rounded view of the issue so that you can begin your own exploration of this subject.
Isn’t it wrong to hurt someone?
The obvious place to start with this subject is the idea that hurting someone else is bad. Often those who are against cursing call upon the rule of “harm none” as the guiding moral code in this situation. On the surface this code seems fairly straightforward but things get a bit more complicated when you try to actually apply it to the real world.
The first stumbling block with this is that the world simply isn’t that black and white. “Good” and “bad” are perspective based judgements, what is good for one person may be very bad for another. Take a job spell for example, what may seem like an entirely harmless little spell to get you that job you wanted could be far more insidious than you intend. If you get that job that means that many other applicants will not and for some of them this could be a devastating and very harmful blow.
Is the spell good or bad? Is it permissible because you didn’t intend the harm? Is it permissible because you never witness the harm that comes from it? The simple fact is, there’s no way to anticipate the ripple effect that your spells might cause. Every spell you ever cast has the potential to cause a very negative reaction somewhere in the world. Likewise a curse has the potential to create very positive effects in the world.
These actions are not cosmically “good” or “bad” because such a thing doesn’t exist! There’s a bit of both in every action and in every spell.
What about the Threefold Law & Karma?
The next argument I generally see for not cursing is usually something about the Threefold Law and/or karma. In order to cover this subject properly we're going to have to start by clearing up some common misconceptions.
Karma is not what you think it is. Most westerners view karma as some sort of grand cosmic scale weighing their good deeds against their bad and this is not an accurate view of the concept. Karma is simply cause and effect, unlike many western religions this concept places the nexus of judgement not in the hands of a deity but into the circumstances of life itself . Instead of your bad deeds being punished by a grand judge your deeds are the cause of either your happiness or your unhappiness through the reactions that they cause in the world .
Misconceptions aside, karma probably does not apply to you. If you are not Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, or belonging to another religion that incorporates these concepts then it simply is not a spiritual view that applies to you. I know many people will balk at this idea. It is true that these ARE open religions and you can convert to them no matter your heritage or ethnicity  but that does not mean that you can cherry pick beliefs from them, remove them from the intended context, change the meaning entirely and pretend you’re still respecting the original culture in any way. The prevalence of this particular form of appropriation does not make it any less insidious than other, more obviously harmful kinds of appropriation.
Not ready to give up on the idea of karma? Then go research it! Learn about Hinduism or Buddhism as a whole and how karma fits into those belief systems. If these concepts truly resonate with you then perhaps even consider converting! But please, treat these cultures with respect and do not steal and mangle their spiritual teachings.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way we can move on to the Threefold Rule. This is a moral guideline that states that whatever you put out into the world will come back to you threefold. If you put out good things then three times as much good will come into your life and vice versa. Obviously, considering our earlier look at how NOT black and white the world is this rule gets a little fuzzy right at the start. How are you supposed to know what you’re putting out into the world if you can’t predict or control the effects of your actions? Even before we get back to that line of reasoning though, there’s a small problem with the concept of the Threefold Rule.
There’s no real world support for it!
Good things happen to terrible people and bad things happen to wonderful people all the time. Just because you’re nice doesn’t mean the world stops being what it is, good and bad things just happen and with the exception of things that happen as a direct result of your actions they’re largely unrelated to your moral approach to life.
If you find that the Threefold Rule DOES hold true in your life then I can’t argue with you for following it. From my perspective, with my life experiences, this rule does not hold true but that does not invalidate your own experiences! What I’m trying to convey here is not that you should drop these moral codes but rather that you shouldn’t accept these moral codes without careful consideration. If, after careful research and consideration, you find that it resonates with you then that’s wonderful! If you reach that point you should absolutely continue using it in your life and practice. The important thing is that it has to be right for YOU.
Ok, but should I curse or not?
We’ve gone through the moral ambiguity of the universe, why karma probably doesn’t apply to you and what the threefold rule is. At this point you may have had a lot of your previously held beliefs shaken up and you might be thinking, “So what’s right? Is cursing ok or not?”.
As frustrating as you will all find this answer, I truly cannot tell you whether or not cursing is right. Morality simply isn’t universal! What’s right for me may not be right for you. My worldview will not be the same as my neighbors worldview. Your experiences may lead you to entirely different conclusions than my experiences would. This subject has many facets and I cannot cover them all with a blanket yes or no answer.
Is it right or wrong to curse someone who has killed or hurt many people? Is it right or wrong to curse an abuser in order to protect yourself? Is it right or wrong to curse someone to prevent them from going on to hurt others?
These are big questions and not easily answered for many of us! If you don’t love the idea of doing the deep thinking necessary to determine your own thoughts and feelings on the matter you can simply avoid cursing for the sake of simplicity, there’s nothing wrong with that. If, on the other hand, you find that you’re up for the task of drawing your own lines and grasping your moral code by the horns then I suggest you pursue this subject deeper.
How DO you feel about cursing in all of these scenarios? Talk to others about how they might view these situations, consider alternative viewpoints and research as much as you can!
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 Olivelle, Patrick. “Karma.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 21 Feb. 2014, www.britannica.com/topic/karma. Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.
 Brodd, Jeffrey, and Gregory Sobolewski. World religions: a voyage of discovery. Winona, MN, Saint Marys Press, 2009.
 Coward, Harold G. Modern Indian Responses to Religious Pluralism. State University of New York Press, 1987.
 Shah, Pravin K. “Five Great Vows (Maha-Vratas) of Jainism.” Jainism Literature Center - Jain Education, www.fas.harvard.edu/~pluralsm/affiliates/jainism/jainedu/5greatvows.htm. Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.
 Shults, Brett. “On the Buddha's Use of Some Brahmanical Motifs in Pali Texts.” Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/article/view/76/96. Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.