I was first introduced to magic in high school when a friend gifted me the writings of Scott Cunningham. From his books I was taught to stay away from curses, as whatever energy a practitioner puts into the world, whether negative or positive, will return to them threefold. Curses for Cunningham are unequivocally bad[i]. But as I’ve deepened my relationship to my magic, I’ve come to appreciate the necessity of curses within certain contexts.
Cunningham’s approach to magic is a nice warning of accountability to beginning witches, but it assumes we live in a world in which everything is fair, just, and bountiful. While I do maintain that at the core all life on earth is a divine spark, humans frequently do not actively tend to that divine intelligence. Instead the Ego, the personal Demiurge, often runs the show.
And so we live in a world in which the powerful exploit the weak, and violence is inflicted upon the innocent. On some level we all have trauma that needs tending. And resources are available: conflict resolution, therapy, and social and legal services. But at times even those systems fail. And in those moments when all mundane avenues have been exhausted and energetic justice is still required, that is when it is time to enact a curse.
Spells for Justice
Just to clarify, I’m not suggesting people should curse their exes for punishment about petty misunderstandings. Curses require energy and skill. The type of spell I am advocating for is more in line with the spirit of the words of hunger striker Bobby Sands: “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.” This type of curse disrupts corruption, cuts chords, and banishes an adversary away from the victim. It resets the energetic scale and clears enough space for the victim to find rest and hope for the future. When used responsibly, curses are spells for social justice.
The Bronco and the Workhorse
My favorite spirit ally to work with when enacting a curse is the púca, a type of shapeshifter in Irish folklore who can assume a variety of different forms, including human. Púcas are harbingers of both good and bad fortune, and one of the most common forms they take is that of a black colt. When the colt brings bad fortune, it takes an unsuspecting person for a wild ride on its back and returns them safely home (albeit startled) after it’s had its fun. When the colt brings good fortune, it lends its assistance in ensuring efficiency and productivity of workloads increase.
Púcas are also associated with the blackberry bush, a plant that equally carries a balance of magical qualities. The blackberry’s thorns have long associated it with the Devil[ii], while its berries contain healing antioxidants. Púcas are said to urinate on blackberry bushes on Samhain (Oct 31), thus spoiling them for human consumption.
Resetting the Energetic Scale
I like working with púcas for curses because of their balancing energetic properties. When all known avenues have failed in correcting human injustices, púcas can go into our blind spots to disrupt and improve processes.
To establish a working relationship with a púca, begin by honestly considering that with which you need assistance. Púcas are unpredictable and your cause should be worthy enough to risk being on the receiving end of a bronco ride. If you’re not willing, you’re not ready. But if you are willing, enter a meditative state to meet a púca and advocate for your claim. If the púca agrees, note any offerings it wants in favor of the spell and negotiate consent over what you are willing and not willing to do for the spell.
Once the spell is complete don’t worry about the visible outcome. If the problem exists in intangible blind spots (such as thoughtforms or emotions), the solution will likely come in similar modalities. The injustice is out of your hands now and is under the care of the púca. So release your frustrations and do what you can to find emotional balance. Trust that the púca is doing its job in the unseen realms and commit yourself to cutting chords from the issue in order to find peace and healing.
[i] Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1999.
[ii] Boyer, Corinne. Plants of the Devil. Place of publication not identified: Three Hands Press, 2017.