Superstitiously Cursed

Do you believe in curses, dear reader? Do you believe that curses are grounded in superstition or in reality? Can a person truly be cursed; to wander the earth searching for a cure? Or are curses really just a figment of folklore and used by storytellers throughout time to give their characters something to fight for, or fight against, as the case may be?

I suppose, as with anything, it depends on what your belief system is based on and, for some of you, what you can be persuaded to base your belief system on. For, if I can create a believable world for you; a world where curses are real and freedom is sought, would you be prepared to believe then?

In BONDS, I seek to do just this, for Antony Cardover, my flawed antagonist is cursed. In his wrath at his wife’s adultery, he trades his soul for the chance of vengeance. His price? An eternity as a monster – a man bearing a vampire curse.  To stop him, the curse must be broken. To break the curse, his wife, Isabella, and all her descendants must be destroyed. The catch? Only Antony can break the curse.

But are curses a bad thing or could/should they be seen as blessings in disguise? I suppose it depends on how you view your situation.

A curse, also known as a jinx or a hex, is defined as any express wish that some form of adversity or misfortune befall or attach itself to a person, place or thing. Such a curse is usually inflicted by supernatural powers and, to reverse it, usually requires supernatural rituals.

A jinx, specifically, is often associated with people who suffer a string of bad luck; regardless of what it is they have done. Rather than a person being seen as ‘jinxed’, it is also common to refer to a person as a ‘jinx’ because they are seen to bring bad luck to others. Tempting fate by uttering statements like ‘we’re sure to win the competition’, is seen as a jinx, because tempting fate is seen as an almost certain harbinger of doom. Hands up who remembers saying jinx as a child, when you and your friend said the same thing at the same time. Mine is in the air, I can assure you.

A hex is something that is mostly linked to witchcraft, due to the hexmark displayed on a person, place or object, being that of a pentagram.

Although all three words mean largely the same thing, what is it about the word ‘curse’ that seems to imply an altogether more sinister outcome?

There are many famous curses that have been immortalised over the years and handed down through the generations to claim their place in folklore. So, are curses just another form of superstition then? After all, it is a belief system based on stories, folklore and supernatural elements, such as witchcraft; or, are they actually real? As with superstitions, they must have come from somewhere; must be based on something that has happened to someone or something as a result of an action, mustn’t they? Surely, curses are not just completely fabricated to make something more valuable; to make a place more alluring; or as an excuse for a shocking losing streak, as the Boston Red Sox claimed following an eighty six year dry spell?

So, what is it about curses that so enthrals; that so excites; that so terrifies; that so convinces, dear reader? I believe it is because, in most cases, a curse goes hand in hand with death and destruction and there is nothing more addictive than a trail of mysterious deaths linked to one person; one place; one object; or one act.

Take ‘The Curse of the Pharaohs’. Everyone alive has heard of this curse, or should have. The curse refers to the ‘belief’ that ANY person who disturbs the mummy of an Ancient Egyptian person, especially a pharaoh, is placed under a curse. The curse may be bad luck; it may be illness; or it may even be death.

Such curses were thought to have been written somewhere in the tomb. In reality, however, these curses were rare and tended to be linked to the Old Kingdom era. Any curses after this time, were even rarer and far more severe.

Take for example, a curse from the Old Kingdom. On the tomb of Ankhtifi (9-10th dynasty) there is a warning, stating that ‘any ruler who…shall do evil or wickedness to this coffin…may Hemen (a local deity) not accept any goods he offers, and may his heir not inherit’. Fairly mild, really, wouldn’t you agree? Compare this to a later curse that Zahi Hawass, an Egyptian archaeologist, quotes as an example – ‘Cursed be those who disturb the rest of the Pharaoh. They that shall break the seal of this tomb shall meet death by disease that no doctor can diagnose.’ Big difference, isn’t there?

‘The Curse of the Pharaohs’ was made famous following the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen, due to the number of mysterious deaths of people who had visited the newly discovered tomb. In reality, though, no actual written curse was ever found on his tomb. Around twelve deaths have been associated with the curse of King Tut, including that of Howard Carter, who actually died 16 years after he first opened the tomb!

Are these deaths more than just a coincidence, though? Do you favour the mystery and portentousness of a curse; do you believe in the powers of the ancients and in the belief systems that were founded largely on magic and other supernatural powers? Or, do you favour the scientific approach that states that mould and other bacteria, trapped inside the tomb, was responsible? Or, dear reader, do you favour neither?

The Hope Diamond, reputedly the most famous diamond in the world, is a whopping 45.52 carat, deep blue diamond and is reported to carry a curse. This curse is said to bring misfortune and tragedy to persons who own or wear it. The belief is that the curse was invented to enhance the stone’s mystery, as increased publicity usually led to an increase in its value.

Whilst the ownership register for the diamond seems to err on the side of no curse, given that most of the owners lived long, if not prosperous, lives; the list of people who ‘handled’ the diamond tells a different story. For, every single one of these people; some owners, some not; met with a very sinister and gruesome end. Unfortunately, few of these stories have ever been confirmed. Surely, though, dear reader, these stories are based in fact rather than fiction…?

I leave it to you to decide whether you believe in curses, but as you ponder the possibility, do bear in mind the following – how many times you have referred to something or even someone as being jinxed; how many times you have wondered aloud at what you did in a previous life to warrant the string of bad luck you are currently having (I know I am, at the moment); and how many times you have cited ‘Murphy’s Law’ when something has gone awry.

So, are you ready to believe in curses or, at the very least, the possibility of curses? But, are curses such a bad thing? As I alluded to earlier, doesn’t every curse have its blessings?

I take you back to the dungeon, dear reader, and to that last door; your bedroom door. I take you back to the mirror and I ask you to look, to really look, at what you see as you stand there. For, what looks back at you is a werewolf, yes, I agree. What looks back at you is a creature cursed to live out its days at the mercy of the lunar cycle; a creature cursed to crave the blood of others and be powerless to stop it; a creature forever persecuted by those who fear and don’t understand it; a creature that cannot be cured.

Yes, a werewolf you may be, but with the curse of lycanthropy comes a multitude of blessings – super strength and speed; heightened senses and awareness; and above all else, power.

You shouldn’t be afraid of what you see in the mirror, dear reader, you should embrace it; you should welcome it; you should celebrate it; and, above all else, you should take advantage of it.

No, dear reader, it is not you who should be afraid, but everyone else who should be afraid of you or, more specifically, of what you can and, in all honesty, will do. For, dear reader, you will be powerless to stop it once your base instincts kick in. Oh, just think of all the fun you will have….

May fear protect you when the darkness comes.

Til next time.