Ancient Inscription with magic and spells

The Ancient Art of Magic, Curses and Supernatural Spells

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Cursing Tablets were one way the people of the ancient Greco-Roman society attempted to harness malevolent spirits and the wrath of powerful gods to damn their foes. Binding spells would be scratched into the surface of thin, lead tablets. The tablets would then be rolled up, nails were driven into them, and they were placed underground. They ended up at the bottom of wells, nailed to temple walls, or buried with the dead. Sometimes tablets appealed to underworld gods, Pluto, Hekate, or Persephone, while other times the text simply named the victim and the misfortune or death that was to befall them. One tablet found in London reads: “I curse Tretia Maria and her life and mind and memory and liver and lungs mixed up together, and her words, thoughts and memory; thus may she be unable to speak what things are concealed, nor be able.”

Cursed tablet found in London with inscription

Cursed tablet found in London with inscription. (Wikipedia)

1600 year old tablet curses were found in Italy and recently translated. LiveScience reports that the malevolent words and frightening images were meant to spell the end for both a Roman senator and a veterinarian named Porcello. A drawing of the Greek goddess Hekate was scratched into the lead plate, with snakes writhing on her head. The curse read: "Destroy, crush, kill, strangle Porcello and wife Maurilla. Their soul, heart, buttocks, liver ..."

Tablet depicting deity with snakes coming out of its head

Tablet depicting deity with snakes coming out of its head (via LiveScience)

The practice of magic, or witchcraft is often associated with cursing and evil hexes. Historically in Europe it was assumed that if crops suffered blight, or food spoiled unexpectedly, that a curse was behind it. Other ‘evidence’ of cursing were horses going lame, or milk cows going dry. Accusations of witchcraft were a product of the tension created by such occurrences, and innocent people were frequently killed as a result of witch trials. With the death of the accused ‘witch’, it was believed the curse was broken.

The Evil Eye

The Evil Eye is a very ancient curse known around the world. It dates back to the upper Palaeolithic period, and it is still warded against today in many cultures, especially the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, Central America, Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean. This malevolent glare, or evil look, is the cause of back luck or injury, and is a curse sometimes believed to be caused by feeling jealousy, possessing certain eye colors, or being over-complimentary or covetous.

Because belief in the power of the evil eye is so pervasive around the world, in many countries talismans or amulets designed to ward off the curse can be found readily.

This Ruby Eye Pendant

This Ruby Eye Pendant from an ancient Mesopotamia was used as a warding amulet to protect against the evil eye curse (Danieliness, Creative Commons )

While curses and magic might seem to be the superstition of the ancients, there are many today who still arm themselves with amulets or wards of protection against the affects of curses. Our rational, scientific world now scoffs at the idea of curses being a danger to anyone, and yet medical science can show that the Nocebo Effect – an adverse psychogenic reaction to a perception or expectation - remains a powerful psychological and physiological phenomenon. If you truly believe you’re cursed, and that belief is powerful enough, you may succumb to the curse whether it exists in reality or not.

In this way, perhaps curses from ancient times remain powerful to this very day.

Featured image: Ancient Egyptian Curse Inscription ( Image Source )

By Liz Leafloor     


Black Magic Revealed in Two Ancient Curses– LiveScience

Curse – Wikipedia

Curse Tablet – Wikipedia

Book Curse - Wikipedia

What does the Bible Say – Got Questions?

Evil Eye - Wikipedia


There seems to be a focus on the negative side of magic everywhere you look. We need articles about the positive side. Magic takes so many forms and is also a misnomer. All "magic" comes from within, from the spirit, such as healing, the power of prayer, the ability to change, creating merkabas, and oh so much more.

lizleafloor's picture

Hi Antientarcana, thanks for the comment. I hear where you're coming from, and I agree. The thrust of this article was ancient curses, but I hope to examine the light/healing/blessing side of magical tradition in cultures as well in future articles.


You said: "...but I hope to examine the light/healing/blessing side of magical tradition in cultures as well in future articles.

Please do.

I've been a student and practitioner of spirituality, metaphysics, religion, philosophy, etc., since 1958. I've been a practicing witch for over twenty years and a priest, for at least en of them. Magic has been a HUGE part of my practice. However, never have I uttered, read, or written any spell or curse that would harm another person. We're very aware of our Krma and the ripple effect of spells. There is a dictum throughout most of the Pagan population that states: "An Ye (or it) Harm None, Do What Ye Will". Most Pagans use the creative force of the Universe to heal, or otherwise help people.

u are on to something


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