FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: Do You Believe In Curses Because I Sure Do

feature image via Vice

Hello my adorable opossums, it is that time again: Friday. Remember that Rebecca Black song that cursed us all for a time? Friday, Friday, etc. As usual, Friday is the day that we queers a-gather on the internet and talk to one another in this, the comment section of Autostraddle dot com. Hi hello welcome, it is I, today’s host, A.E. Osworth. I technically do not work here anymore! But they still let me hang out sometimes.

Today, I want to talk about curses. I want to talk about whether or not you believe in them, the last time you experienced a Cursed Time in your life. And I want to talk about that because I am experiencing what I think is a curse right the fuck now. For, like, the last year all the things have gone inexplicably wrong (except for career stuff, for some reason I’m killing it at work, KNOCK ON ALL THE WOOD). There’s been autoimmune disorders, there’s been friend break-ups, there’s been other health scares—and every single time I think okay, that has to be the last of it, we come to something else. This July and August, the curse came for my home and my cat and I’ve had it up to here with whatever is lurking in the corners of my life.

Cast of The Craft because Vanessa texted me and said "can we use something from The Craft for the feature image" and I said "sure can."

In July my cat’s kidney’s stopped working, which is apparently a thing that happens to cats for no reason at all because they are poorly designed. Turns out the right one was less a kidney and more a gravel machine, and the left one had a blockage in the ureter, which is the wee tube that connects the kidney to the bladder (you learn something new every day). Thank Goodness for pet insurance, because she is four and a half and we are not giving up our bb so easily, so we built her a new ureter. She is happy as a clam rn, but I have a new job: I am a full-time cat kidney. On top of all the other things that I do.

Then, literally right after this happened in the middle of our vacation on the fourth of July, we discovered we had a moth problem. We discovered this because our air conditioner stopped working (thank you, curse), and we were all of a sudden covered in moths. Where could they be coming from, we wondered? They weren’t in our closets, there weren’t in the giant wool stash. Where were the fecking moths mothing? Under our bed in our rug, turns out. We didn’t see the damage until we moved the bed out of the way on our moth quest—the moths had been eating a beautiful antique rug for months. We threw it out. We wept.

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About this time we ordered some burnables and shitton of spell candles because hot damn, we were cursed. A writhing pile of larvae under our bed felt pointed and personal. Even people in our lives who do not care one wit for magic advised us to sage tf out of our apartment. When the spell candles arrived, the one labeled “Protection” arrived broken, glass and all.

Cursed.

We’ve since got it sorted—the moths have been unmothed, I’m getting the hang of giving my cat a lot of needles, and a new Protection candle arrived intact (thank you, Seagrape Soap). I hope it’s gone. I went from zero to sixty on this one; from not believing in curses to definitely believing in curses.

So now I come to you, queerest of community, and I ask you:

Do you believe in curses, too?

Tell me about your week, sure. But also tell me about that run of time where you were SURE that someone put an ill-wish in your coffee. And tell me what you did about it. How did you break your curse?


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A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

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37 Comments

  1. Happy Friday! I don’t know if I believe in curses per say but my mother (thanks mom!) did raise me with the idea of ‘Murphy’s Law’, so ‘what can go wrong will go wrong.’ You know that day where your illness is flaring but you can’t call out and your car is slowly breaking and your boss snipped at you and your coffee split on your white pants and it all just adds up. But I also think that with time it eases. So I also believe strongly in ‘this too shall pass.’ Hasn’t been easiest sailing here, either. Here’s to those autoimmune diseases and life’s unpredictable moments! I’m on the up and up from a flare but had to cancel a trip with my mom and she feels I’m choosing my gf’s family over her because I’m still visiting them for things, and she just refuses to get it (the ‘it’ being what this illness means for me and what it does to me and how I have to readjust my whole life). And that sucks, ya know? Wrack on the guilt mom, go ahead. Work is keeping me super busy and grad school starts soon which I’m so excited for (on the way to being a librarian)! But also for the first time ever I need to apply for disability services through school and my boss brought up maybe discussing accommodations with HR and I’m hitting an ‘OMG I’m 24 what’s my life’ crisis. But this weekend my gf and I are driving west to see her dad and some people and we’re gonna play minigolf and go to an 11 year old’s bday party and eat chicken wings and just breathe rural mountain air. I’m feeling a little stuck in life currently and a lot of guilt over not pleasing all the people, and I’m overwhelmed with illness and school and work and adulting. Send me some candles?? And hope your kitty is doing okay!
    Happy weekend, ya’ll. <3

    • Omg what if this comment section just turns into us all lighting candles for each other. I wouldn’t be mad.

      Librarians are heroes, so when you’re like, I’m 24 what is my life, remember that librarians have always been heroes. But like especially now? In this era of eroding truth and fact and curiosity, librarians can and do play a big part in saving us in so many small ways.

      Rock on in discussing accommodations! As a professor, I always really encourage my students to tell me what they need because that way I can figure out how to best teach them. I want them to learn the thing; I don’t particularly care how. I’m always happy to know how to work with them. Hopefully that makes it easier? Any professor (and boss) worth their salt is going to be grateful for the info and happy to work with you.

  2. I don’t believe in curses right now cos I just drove my stepkids for the first time in our brand new (to us) car, and there were NO snarky comments about the car or my driving, and that is a massive win for a Friday and I feel like queer super step mum.

    A.E. keep up the good work, I’m sending you all the blessings to counteract this curse. I’m looking at you with a genuine wish and a kindly eye.

  3. I definitely believe in curses, even though I can’t think of anytime I’ve been sure that I was under one. I was in a weird disassociative anxiety funk for most of this summer, because I was in a job that was not good for me and waiting to hear about scheduling top surgery has been THE WORST (kinda still is since I still am waiting). Last monday, still feeling very in that funk despite no longer working the bad job, I knocked my coffee mug off the kitchen counter. As a person who loves routine and constants, I was worried that not having the coffee mug I’ve used basically everyday for four years would be terrible. But since breaking it, I’ve felt better? I feel more at ease and took a great trip to see some friends which helped me get back into my body/mind. It’s like I needed some little but meaningful thing to snap and literally break and change in order to shake off the weirdness I was feeling.

  4. Some people see curses everywhere to avoid taking responsibility for their own experience of life. I don’t think curses are nearly as common as some would have us believe. I do think they exist, though.

    I was having a dreadful time this past autumn and winter. I chronicled some of it here. The real breaking point was when I just barely missed getting struck by lonesome and sudden bolt of lightning that destroyed my bicycle and took out our only means to make money, after our only other means of transport had already been taken from us under similarly sudden and difficult circumstances (I live super rurally with no family or friends around so that’s kind of a big “how do I even feed myself now” kind of deal). I’d never even considered before then that curses or the evil eye could ever affect me, because who’d even care about me like that, but divination indicated that it was, and who the ill will was coming from, and after taking pains to break the curse and consecrate amulets to wear against it… everything resolved pretty much immediately.

      • Oh! No! My bicycle was electric and was charging at the time. I’m not even sure where the lightning struck precisely, because it apparently created a supercharge in the electricity, despite protective measures, frying the bicycle, and it also fried the phone company’s wiring (our livelihood), two different systems of wires from two different sources, with no apparent connection (one airborne, one underground, they even enter the house on different sides of the door)! I was outside bringing in firewood, and just as I had passed both sets of wires and stepped into a protective stone doorway the whole courtyard I was out working in turned white and there was a deafening bang. Not quite as dramatic as my bicycle getting hit while I’m on it, or anything, but given the severe burns people can get from being near strikes, and the complete lack of warning, it was still pretty dramatic.

        Me, I wear a gold bracelet with an engraved plate naming emanations of the One that are closely associated with physical manefestations and I had an ouroboros pendant consecrated for my partner using spells adapted from the Greek Magical Papyri. Nothing very fancy or conspicuous. I stopped trying to look like I’m auditioning for The Craft some years ago. ? Well, mostly. ?

  5. I don’t believe in curses; they don’t pass my criteria for belief. And like the NPCs in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I only feel comfortable discussing that particular subject with people who have enough approval points!

    I’m glad your cat is doing better. When I was in college, we lost a three-year-old cat to a similar issue. My wife and I have two cats (currently 7 and 5) and my job offers pet insurance. I haven’t bought it yet but now I think it’s worth considering, especially as the older one is reaching senior status.

  6. My cat had similar kidney issues earlier this year and it was awful – thankfully no surgery, but thousands of dollars in vet bills and now he’s on some hella expensive renal diet cat food that involves feeding him separately my other cats 2-3 times a day – it’s a pain but he’s so damn cute. On the plus side, he used to be a shy guy but now he’s super cuddly and more assertive since his near-death experiences.

    If anyone can break a curse, it’s pansexual gender-bending babe Héloïse Letissier/Chris/Christine and the Queens and her jaw-dropping, queer-as-fuck new video, 5 Dollars. Her closet full of harnesses/vintage suits (1:47) is everything I want in life.

  7. 100% believe in curses. I am a firm believer in the rule of threes. But then it’s like OH NO there were only 2 horrible awful things that happened, WHAT’S NEXT? Which is super not great for anxious folks such as myself. Waiting for that proverbial shoe to drop.
    Currently sitting with a string of “bad luck” that I refuse to acknowledge as a cursed period, and it doesn’t fall into the rule of threes type unless this is multiple things in threes hahaaaa here’s hoping not. Asked all my friends to talk to whichever deity/spirit/make wishes/whatever they do for me today because there’s a thing happening tonight I want to be a good thing that works, I need some upward moment right now. So if y’all could cross your fingers things work out that would be lovely <3

  8. I kind of do believe in curses as I am told I have some of the best luck when it comes to finding good parking spots. About a year ago I think my room may have been haunted as when I’d go to sleep(sober) and be in light sleep I’d experience some trippy things; like monsters and weird spirits like trying scare me. I can’t tell if it was a dream, but I’d wake up in a sweat or in one case out of breath. I tried to solve it by burning white sage, which may or may not have helped as I haven’t experienced that in a good while.

    How is everyone’s week going? Mines has been very good in many ways. To start with the bad, my main camera(Fuji) has a dirty sensor, and cleaning it did nothing. So, I’m saving up to buy another(Fuji) one off ebay for a fair price(under $330, when new was $900+). I also went to a women and marijuana festival, with a dear friend, that felt a bit too white, cis, butchphobic(one speaker had this tone), & capitalistic. Odd when they kept citing inclusivity. I had on my AS and Cuties they/them pins on and a glittery shade of purple lipstick so I looked fairly queer. I also got to sample a lot of stuff and take some home too.

    This Sunday I may spend time at the beach again, not sure as I have some things to do. This Wednesday coming up I am going with my bff(woman im something with) to see Common and Queen Latifah. I’m pretty sure the singing will be more Chicago like than Black Reign style, which I prefer. But, it should be a great time as it’s the Hollywood Bowl and they let people bring in small picnic basket and wine.

    Spent part of my Sunday at the beach, and on my favorite roads. Took a walk on this small hill in sandals.

    Hopefully I am not cursing myself by talking about the good week I had or the one coming up. Thank you for viewing and reading my post. Have a positive and curse free weekend and upcoming week!

  9. I don’t believe in like, literal curses, but there are times when everything goes wrong and coping is easier if you think about it that way.

    For quite a few years, something bad happened to me every March. Hospitalizations, broken bones, severe concussions, that sort of thing. It got to the point where it felt better to say “Well, it’s March, what else did I expect?” than bemoan my horrible luck. Hasn’t been the case for a few years though, thankfully.

  10. Cats are not built poorly, they are just built to be an Obligate carnivore (more on the links below)
    About curses though, I have seen it happened. It’s pretty common for home construction workers to curse houses here, well at least in these parts of the world it is. From what I’m told people who “disturb ground” often (such as builders, construction workers…) will have very bad luck, to get rid of that they will curse 1 house after building 5 or 6 houses. It’s your downfall if you happen to buy the one that’s cursed. In Thailand, instead of cursing houses, they’ll build small shrines in front of the house/hotels. You actually see mini shrines like that if you visit Thai.
    The property that is cursed will either give you poor health or will be bad for businesses, or attract lots of “ghost” (an Atheist boss of mine said you could explain ghosts using quantum physic, so it’s completely scientific. But for the sake of the story let’s call them ghosts). I went to one cursed property and there were 3 ghosts living in there, the owner was unable to turn a profit until she left to do business in another property. Once that property was renovated, they found some hair inside the wall.
    Another friend of mine bought a cursed house and afterwards she tried to kill herself a few times (before that she was perfectly happy). She took a trip to China and once there (in some rural village), and old guy pulled her aside and said her house was cursed. She went back to my country and smashed her house into rubble, and there she also found human bones and some hair tucked away inside the wall.
    However it’s very very easy to mistake something else for curses so one should not go around assuming the worse to be honest.
    And about cat, feeding them kibble will almost always result in kidney failure, low quality canned wet foods are even better than kibble (I make my own cat food, however for busy folks qood quality wet foods will work fine). Cates are carnivore and are designed by nature to eat raw meat or at least meat. Human if we eat the wrong diet we will be sick, so will cat.
    You can check out some links (one from a seasoned vet, one from a lay person):
    https://catinfo.org/
    http://www.catnutrition.org/

  11. I’m a Southerner so not believing in curses is unwise, it’s better to just err of the side of caution, and caution costs nothing. Like being respectful to the dead, not trying to force contact with anything. Costs nothing.

    Now do I believe what I was told about a strong curse being laid on me, keeping me safe from any little penny ante curses that might be sent my way that to lay anything else on me would take some powerful doing and probably just kill me outright? Naaaaah.

    Oh man tho moth infestations are the worst. Dealt with meal month infestation once, it was like a horror movie or biblical plague. Took years to be sure the infestation was over.

    Don’t know 100% about your moths, but for meal moths I know there’s traps. These hanging lil paper “houses” with a sticky strip and pheromones to attract and trap the mature males so they don’t go fertilizing.

    Worth a try and you could draw sigils or something in line with your spiritual practices on the outside of the paper.

  12. I don’t believe in curses, but I’m starting to believe in karma. There’s a very small group of people in my city who actively dislike me for no real reason (jealousy, I think) and try to turn others against me (we’re involved in a shared activity, so I have to see them semi-regularly), and every time they’ve said or done something overtly assholeish to me, something bad has almost immediately happened to them. I like to think it’s karma, anyway.

  13. Pet insurance is a life-saver, that’s for sure.

    Boy oh boy lemme tell you about my cursed year: it started when I was fired from the job I’d held for six years. I was already miserable there because it wasn’t the most supportive work environment to start with, but then they totally botched their handling of my transition at work. It took months to bounce back from how useless that job made me feel. But then I got a new job! Everything was right in the world… until I was fired, 3 months later, right after Thanksgiving, right in the holiday stretch where no one is hiring.

    Being fired twice within 6 months still haunts me. My repetitive stress dreams have changed from “oh no I’m enrolled in a college course I haven’t attended all semester” to “oh no, I’ve been fired, I have to figure out my finances.” But! There’s still another 6 months left in my cursed year.

    To start that new year off right, I get divorced. Then my dog gets diagnosed with cancer. Then I get diagnosed with cancer. I continue living with my ex and support our ailing pup for 6 months of treatment (again, yay pet insurance), but we lose him a couple weeks before I have my surgery to have my cancer removed.

    At this point, I’m not sure what ended my cursed year: if whatever terrible Fate decided I’d suffered enough, or the fact that I up and moved out, uprooting everything I had with no particular plan. Either way, it’s been smooth sailing since.

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