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Beloved Backs and How to Save Them

Author: Seba O'Kiley
Posted: January 20th. 2013
Times Viewed: 4,865

You're rocking right along, paying the bills and living through a month of Mondays. Everything is fairly mundane, so to speak, in that lovely unobtrusive way. And then, there it is. Black, gooey, nasty astral mongrels snipping at your feet, strange poop piles lined up in your magical yard and one rotten apple after another getting slung over the fence at your finest flower. Yup. I’m gonna say it: someone cast on you.

Now, I hear tell that there are some out there who believe that only positively wondrous things happen when you’ve been cast upon: money falls out of the air, accolades land in your email box and you are lifted above the ground by adoring fans and neighbors like an eighties concert on crack. My response to this is, quite simply: Bullspit.

Reflection spells don’t work like that. Naw, they “reflect” back at the sender–and that’s some rough stuff, some tough love, but it’s damn straight fair. What we are talking about here is not exclusive to Paganism, y’all. Nope. Not even a little. Let’s review curses a bit, shall we?

Curses have a bit of a limp built into them in that they need the receiver to accept them home. Now, this sounds pretty downright simple–except that we are human. Very. (Whether we would like to believe it or not.) We have bad days, anger management problems, a heart, money issues and the like. These things make us vulnerable to curses in ways that most of us do not understand. Rather, we simply burn candles, put up mirrors in our windows, light sage and hope for the best. After all, no harm can befall us if we have been ethical, right?

And that’s real sweet and all. But it’s not practical magic. Let’s get real.

Anyone who tells you that they are being “blessed” when someone curses them is, at best, a liar. Deceiving folks into believing this means that: they are frightened, want to psyche folks into not fighting back and are variously working on a strangely gray plane. Nah. Curses are energy, pure and simple, and they need a host–as long as you lay down and look tasty, you are what’s for dinner, the other white/dark meat. And there’s something even scarier than that at play: You might have played a part in the whole thing.

That’s right. Free will is a mighty fine concept, until we realize that it will land us square in a pile of manure if we aren’t paying attention. Let’s review:

Curses 101

*Negative attitudes. This includes, but is not limited to: backstabbing, racial slurs, malicious gossip, poking fun for spite, lying, posturing for ego and more.

* Verbal abuse: making up cruel nicknames, disparaging someone’s lineage/path, blackmailing, etc.

* Harboring negative thoughts: fantasizing revenge, looking for weaknesses for collateral, plotting someone’s demise in a public forum . . . you get the idea.

* Resentment. That’s right, resentment. Let. That. Poison. Go. And if some soul causes your heart to continually grasp back for resentment, let that human go. Before someone gets hurt . . . like you.

* Sloth. Unkempt, disorganized, dirty or careless treatment of magical space. Seriously. Get the coffee cup and the cigarette butt off of that altar. (Sigh.) Chaotic energy attracts dust and pests like nothing else—and most of us don’t want to be on “Magical Energy Hoarders: The Witch Edition.”

* “Crafted” spells. These dank, dark, murky things done in a fit of anger or spite will, I repeat, will come back home. (Remember: you are its baby momma/daddy.) [1]

And finally, ingredients for curses: jealousy, resentment, feelings of inadequacy, unchecked ego, fear, depression, loneliness and just outright meanness.

Seems to me, that we have forgotten (on both the sending and the receiving end) that curses do not require intention. They are energy-bound entities and need food, a host and room to grow. In actuality, those without intention are ever more dangerous than clear-cut little packages. They simply are hard to locate, rarely carry a return address and will take any form necessary to keep moving. Things without a shelf life are NOT GOOD FOR YOU. (Put down that Twinkie!)

And so, what to do? Well, Batchildren, that totally depends. Have you done your shadow work? Have you investigated your motives/thoughts/actions? Before we go all balls out in defense (yes, that is an option) first we need to ask ourselves: What part of this nasty juju did I incur, my own self? Mayhap we have a bit of a mess in the closet? Let’s rectify that first with a big, black garbage bag and some Clorox bleach.

Okay. Not much in there? Maybe we just have some old records, one or two crappy moments and those purple shoes from 1982. Now we’re cooking with bacon, y’all. Next step, it is...

Are we empaths? Do we naturally feel guilty like someone’s Jewish grandma? (Love them, by the way. They make the best soups and give the best hugs.) Well, then, if so, we may have slung our arms open for some interesting, parasitic crap. Told it to sit down and stay a spell, after all: we deserve it . . . right. Work through this one. If undeserved guilt is the case, cut it out. If not, next step.

Have we turned to our kin? Asked them to check the closet, our motives, our actions and our drink-by-date? Consider this: we can either be too hard on ourselves, or often, too close to the forest to see the trees. If our ego is not in the way, and if we really want to work this through, being vulnerable to trusted companions is critical. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Got it. Next step.

If everything else checks out, and if the bad juju was not something you had a hand in cooking up, then yes. Yes, yes, yes. You may have been shot with the nasty stick. And the next step is the easiest of all: send that mess home. Righteously, justifiably, indignantly send that mess on back home. (You see, if it was yours all along, you can bury it. ”I brought you in this world, I’ll take you out” works well here. You may end up with a bruised arse, but it will heal.)

Put up your “no room in the inn” sign; call out the dogs and chase that bugger all the way to the road. Hell. No. Go vampire on that mess: “I rescind my invitation!” Because, y’all, it has to have one. It must. And whether or not you see it yet, you hymned and hawed around saying no and now it’s chillin’ like a villain and eating up all yor’ pizza bites and picking its toenails on your couch. Get the machete. Don’t think twice. [2]

But, wait. What if, just lately, you’ve been a little worn down, or sick, or just so downright weak that even the idea of railing that mojo creeper is too much to bear? I gotcha. Let me tell you a little story.

Toni Morrison wrote an astounding novel entitled Beloved and (among other things) ended the whole shebang with Miss Sethe’s community breaking a curse. You see, guilt and time and pain had made a nice, fertile bed for a parasitic ghost in Sethe's house and in her soul. As much as it was killing her, she loved that hot mess on account of it represented someone/something she had lost/killed years before. And that ghost/curse made her feel special, laws yes, loved her earrings and before you knew it: Sethe couldn’t fight it anymore. Not by herself, anyhow.

“Why was there nothing it refused? No misery, no regret, no hateful picture too rotten to accept? Like a greedy child it snatched up everything. Just once, could it say, No thank you? I just ate and can’t hold another bite?”

But one day, the townswomen (even those who didn’t abide by her anymore) got wind that their sister was suffering, unduly and without rest, and marched onto her land:

” . . . where the voices of women searched for the right combination, the key, the code, the sound that broke the back of words. Building voice upon voice until they found it, and when they did it was a sound wide enough to sound deep water and knock the gods off chestnut trees. It broke over Sethe and she trembled like the baptized in its wash.” [3]

And y’all know what happened next? That damnable ghost just plain out vanished. Right off that land, right out of Sethe’s broken flesh and soul, right off that porch and stayed good and gone. Yup. Turns out:

Nasty, gooey, black astral mess can’t factor against community. It can’t even keep a fingernail dug in good in the face of well-sounded love, the force of light and the medicine of down-home, righteously indignant thumps. In other words: turn to your sisters. Turn to your brothers. Let us sing that mess out of your sweet yard and dance on the ash of its unholy hunger until all that is left is the sacred circle our feet make in the grass.

Or in other words: screw that noise. Let’s sing. Nothing is as powerful as vibrating energy joined for a cleansing, purifying purpose. We must be pragmatic crafters, rather than hocus pocus players, if we are to be balanced, healthy and happy.

Blessed Be,


1. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but only a generalized representation of possible curses in the average realm.

2. I have literally heard others in the Craft posture that cursing children is acceptable in love and war. Such a concept is not one of balance, or human ethics. Children are never, ever, acceptable “marks.”

3. Toni Morrison, Beloved. Alfred Knopf, 1987.

(This article first appeared at as "Beloved Backs (and How to Save Them) on August 20, 2012.)



Seba O'Kiley

Location: Auburn, Alabama


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