Throughout history, people have placed evil curses on their enemies. These curses were believed to bring adversity to those cursed. It may result from prayer, magic, or witchcraft. Many believe that all gifts and curses come from the gods.
To the Greeks and Romans, curses could only be placed on a person by following an official protocol. The curse was written, often on a lead tablet, to invoke the aid of the spirit world. These tablets were then placed in a sacred location – a tomb, sacred spring, or cemetery. The text included a prayer that the enemy would be harmed, along with the reasons for the curse.
Throughout the Bible, curses are common. In Genesis, the serpent is cursed by God, as are Adam and Eve. While other people may be cursed, it is forbidden to curse God, parents, the authorities, and others.
The Celtic world also made use of curses. Curse stones, eggs, and more were used to bring misfortune to enemies. Of course, there are also recorded methods to break a curse.
Certain areas have been considered to be cursed, like the Sargasso Sea or Bermuda triangle. In Queensland, Australia, a group of waterholes has claimed the lives of numerous young men traveling through the area. Interestingly, neither females nor locals are at risk. Although some believe that the curse here is misplaced, aboriginal legend records this area was historically believed to be cursed.
A commonly-known curse is believed to have caused the deaths of US presidents elected in a year which is divisible by 20. This curse was levied against the American government by Native leader Tecumseh beginning in 1840. The most recent victim, Ronald Reagan, was elected in 1980. However, he survived the assassination attempt. Some believe that this curse has run its course.
Some believe in the Curse of 27. A number of famous musicians and entertainers died at age 27, including Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, and more.
It is not only people who can be cursed –objects can also carry a curse, especially if stolen. The Hope Diamond is said to bring misfortune to any who own it. In a modern twist, a cassette tape or recordable CD can record the spoken curse, which can later attach a curse to an object.
Perhaps the most famous curse is the apparent curse of the pharaohs, unleashed once the tomb of Tutankhamen was open and violated. British journalists in the 19th century sensationalized Egyptian curses. However, ancient Egyptians did inscribe curses onto markers, intending to protect the goods and property of temple or tomb.