Magic, Mystery, a little Whisky, and a Cat

C is for Curses

Looking for magic words eventually led me to the dark side—curses.  What if some jealous jinn or a wandering malevolent spirit saw fit to send snaking coils of evil magic my way?  It seemed only prudent to be ready to zap enemies into green goo if necessary.

Even Pagans don’t encourage curses though it is often argued some people invite curses. The logic is that a curse has to be pretty strong to go against Karma so if a curse works, it’s “meant” to work and is another thread in the fabric of existence. In other words, the bastards get what they deserve.  Wiccans, and other pagans, generally argue that what you send out into the universe will come back to you times three, or times ten.  This would seem to discourage anybody from sending bad feelings off on the wind. The way around that is rooted in semantics.  I’m pretty sure this is what the Wicked Witch of the West meant when she said, “These things must be done delicately”.  Instead of sending evil intentions toward some unsuspecting, but deserving dolt, you can instead phrase your curse to reflect back to them what they send your way.  That way, they do it to themselves and you are blameless and the Universe won’t be unhappy with you. That’s the theory.

But the origination of the word itself is a bit of a dark mystery which leaves my writer brain a lot of leeway.  Maybe it was a word used by alien overlords to subjugate our ancestors or maybe a Druid made it part of a ritual in an oak grove. Who knows?

The word used as a noun—a prayer for evil to befall someone—may have come from the Old French curuz “anger,” or Latin cursus “course.” That puts its first use somewhere in the 11th century when it might have been used as curs.  No similar words exist in other languages related to English.  It’s possible the word is from a Vulgar Latin derivative of Latin corrumpere which means to destroy.  Corrumpere is the root of English words like corrupt.

For better or worse, many heavy duty curses have made their way into legend.  To see full descriptions, take a look at these links. From Tecumseh’s curse on American presidents to the Curse of Tutankhamen’s tomb to the Curse of The Billy Goat, the popularity of casting curses is still going strong.

The 6 Most Strangely Convincing Real-Life Curses |

HowStuffWorks “10 Famous Curses”.

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