03 December 2012

Book Review: The Little Book of Curses and Maledictions

I was browsing through amazon.com a few days ago and came across   The Little Book of Curses and Maledictions for Everyday Use by Dawn Rae Downton.  The kindle version was only a dollar so I figured I'd check it out. 

Although I rarely work curses, I do find them fascinating.  It's always interesting to see what actions other people think are curse worthy and how they try to go about laying them.  The tricky thing with curses, particularly those you haven't written yourself, is that they have a tendency to rebound back on the caster.  They usually end up just creating a really strong link between the caster and the target, often making both parties truly miserable.

I would never cast a curse because someone was gossiping about me, cut in line for the bus, or generally annoyed me.  I just don't think that sort of behavior rises to the level of curse-worthy.  If I'm going to forge a semi-permanent link between me and someone I detest they would need to have done something really, really bad.  I'm talking physically harming someone I care about, emotionally eviscerating a friend, that sort of thing.  But that's just me.  There are lots of practitioners out there that have no problem hexing someone for whatever reason.  It's up to you to determine your own curse ethics.

In this book there are three kinds of curses: the revenge curse, the warning curse, and the binding curse.

The revenge curses are probably what we all think of when we think of hexes, and curses.  This is the "make my ex miserable," "get my boss fired," "punish that thief," kind of curses that get popular media all hot and bothered.  Most of these are variations on traditional hexes and curses with a few twists to make them appropriate for contemporary casters.  They're all pretty easy to cast and if you know how to focus your energy and put it into a spell they they should work.  Of course, if you don't actually know what you're doing these spells probably won't do more than give you a small sense of satisfaction.

The warning curses are spells designed to prevent or end bad situations.  I wouldn't actually call these curses, since they don't actually visit harm on another.  I think these spells are only called curses in this book because they use the same types of techniques and ingredients as the more traditional revenge curses.  However, this section does have my favorite spell from the book, "The Eastwood."  It's basically a ward against douchbaggery.  You create a special pouch that you can wear when you want to prevent rudeness.  I would think that this sort of spell would loose it's potency rather quickly, so it would have to be done repeatedly.

The binding curses, unsurprisingly, bind the target to do, or refrain from doing, a particular thing.  Honestly, these are the kinds of curses I am least comfortable with.  The idea of infringing on someone else's free will does not sit well with me, but desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.

Overall, this book is decent for what it is.  It gives the curious an interesting overview of what kinds of things curses and maledictions can do and gives inspiration to those actually wanting to cast a curse.  Would I do any of the spells in here as written? No, because a spell is always best when personalized and for something that requires as much commitment as a true curse you should be willing to make it your own.  That being said, if you did the spells as written in the proper frame of mind they'd probably work.  I just wouldn't recommend anyone trying it if they're not already accustomed to magick.

Overall I'd give this a 3 1/2 out of five for content, but for $1 that's just fine.

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