Blog Post 116 – Cursing Psalms (part II)
Staying on the dark side of things today, I’m going to continue the theme I started in my previous blog post on the biblical Psalms which have been used to curse. In this post, I’ll be looking at several of the most commonly used Psalms, as well as some of the spells which are built around them.
To begin, let’s look at the spell that prompted this whole topic. From Judika Illes’ Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells:
“The Cursing Psalm
The power to heal can be the power to harm. Even something as intrinsically good and sacred as a psalm may be used malevolently. Psalm 109 has been called ‘the cursing psalm.’ It may be chanted to harm an enemy.
The psalm itself is inherently benevolent. It’s your emotion and intention that transforms it. Therefore the fist step is to be in the right mood. Then start chanting and visualizing.” (p. 575)
This is certainly the most intensive of the cursing Psalms, including the admonitions:
9Let his [one’s enemy] children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
10Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
13Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
Not pleasant stuff, certainly. This one is powerful enough that merely chanting it while focusing on an enemy should cause him or her some distress. However, before simply writing this particular Psalm off as evil, I should point out that it also gets interpreted in more positive ways. Ray T. Marlbrough says it is used “To protect from an enemy, persisting in bothering you” (Magic Power of the Saints). In this light, it is not so much of a curse as a barrier against harm. Braucher Chris Bilardi recognizes its power to be used “against a tenacious enemy,” but also says it is useful “for acquiring friends” (The Red Church). So even the “cursing Psalm” has its upside.
CUT LIMB FROM A TREE THAT IS WITHERING
WHILE MENTIONING WHICH LIMB OF YOUR ENEMY YOU WISH TO BE AFFECTED, OR WHILE MENTIONING OVERALL WITHERING AS YOUR INTENT;
READ THE 70TH PSALM ON YOUR ENEMY;
BURY WITHERED LIMB WITH YOUR ENEMY’S UNDERWEAR –
– TO HURT BY DRYING THEM UP
When ah want someone tuh dry up, or tuh hurt them, yo’ go to a tree an’ git a tree that’s withered all up, dryin’ up. Yo’ don’t know the cause of the tree dryin’ up but chure not supposed tuh know how come the tree is witherin’ up yo’self tuh do this. Yo’ jes’ git the witherin’ tree that’s dyin’, an’ yo’ cut a branch offa that tree, see. An’ yo’ want that person – whatevah limb yo’ want that person tuh lose when yo’ cut this branch offa this tree, yo’ mention de limb that chew want ’em tuh lose, if it’s the right laig or the right arm. It won’t work on they haid; it’ll work on a limb, yore arm or yore laig. An’ then yo’ bury this withered tree wit some of this person’s underwear. Until it’s found, why they’ll wither away or lose dere laig or lose they arm, whichevah yo’ say, an’ they’ll be lingerin’ from it. Co’se if yo’ don’t want ’em tuh die like that or lose their laig or arm, yo’ would say, “Let ’em wither as dis tree withers.” But chew would have tuh read de 70th Psalms tuh do that work. De 70th Psalms will dry that person up, jes’ wither him up. De 70th Psalms will dry yo’ up jes’ like a herrin’ – yo’ see, a dry herrin’. Yo’ read de 70th Psalms on anyone an’ it will dry ’em up.
[Memphis, TN. Informant #926 and #1538 (this is one informant, two different interview dates); B45:19-B51:1 = 1503-1509 and D96:1-D110:2 = 2779-2793.]
This is definitely a severe curse, in that it aims to cause at least semi-permanent damage to a person’s body. Both Bilardi and the Curious Curandera also list this Psalm as one to be used for overcoming evil, particularly bad habits—the withering of a limb in this case being the withering of the wicked part of oneself that must be removed.
Some of the other Psalms that may be used in a cursing capacity include:
Psalm 7 – Used to overcome enemies, especially those who plot against one secretly
Psalm 48 – To undo envious enemies; according to Malbrough, it can also be used to “strike fear into your enemies”
Psalm 52 – Used to punish one’s enemies, especially those who use magic against one
Psalm 53 – Which can be used to curse someone who is being stubborn, or to inflict blindness (mental or physical)
Psalm 93 – Used in legal cases where one has been unjustly accused in order to cross the one who brought the charges
Psalm 100 – According to Bilardi, this Psalm is for “overcoming enemies and obstacles” (TRC)
Psalm 120 – To stop gossip against one or to cross one’s enemies in court cases
Psalm 140 – Against anyone “evil,” though I think that is a fairly subjective idea. It is also used like Psalm 52 against anyone who has worked harmful magic against one
In all of these cases, the Psalms themselves are sometimes all you need, though the more one wants to add to the process, the more potent the curse will be. Muttering the curse over a candle with an enemy’s name carved into it would be a simple and not-terribly-visceral way to do it. Sewing up one of these Psalms into a doll-baby containing an enemy’s hair or foot track and tossing it into a fire, burying it in the earth, or dropping it into a jar full of baneful herbs and oils would be a pretty big curse. The mechanics of the curse really would depend upon the practitioner.
Before I finish up today, I thought I’d also look at a few of the other curse verses employed from the Bible. Just as non-Psalmic verses (like the Blood Verse in Ezekiel 16) and extra-biblical prayers can be employed to do good works, there are a few passages which have some crossing power in them. These are taken from a very fine book on Old Testament magic called Jewish Magic & Supersition, by Joshua Trachtenberg:
To cause an enemy to die: Nu. 14:37
To cause an enemy to drown: Ex. 15:10
Against slander: Ex. 15:7
To cause a man who has sworn falsely to die within a year: Ex. 15:12
To cause a curse to take effect: Lev. 27:29” (p. 110)
Pretty rough stuff! All of these curses make me want to up my protection factor quite a bit. You can’t be too careful out there, where magic is concerned.
I hope this has been useful to someone. If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me. For now, blessings upon you for reading this (after all these curses, you might need them!).
And, of course, thanks for reading!