What are jinxes, hexes, and curses? How can you tell if you’ve been jinxed, hexed, or cursed? And if you have been, what can you do about it?
Occult author and paranormal investigator J. Allen Cross provides clarity on all these questions below.
J. Allen Cross is the author of American Brujeria: Modern Mexican American Folk Magic and The Witch’s Guide to the Paranormal.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about jinxes, hexes, and curses.
In today’s world, we hear a lot of things about malefic witchcraft, from “You’re not a real witch unless you’re hexing people” to “A real witch would never do anything of the sort.” Regardless of your moral or traditional stance on malefic work, we can all agree that cursing, hexing, and jinxing are a part of our world and something we need to be able to talk about.
In this article, we’ll discuss the main differences between jinxes, hexes, and curses, as well as how to identify them and what to do about them. We’ll also discuss the cultural significance of malefic magic and why it has been a historically important part of magic across the globe.
What are jinxes, hexes, and curses?
All of these are terms for spells that are intended to damage, harm, or inconvenience a specific target.
Some of them are more powerful than others. Some are cast with full intention, and others are sometimes cast accidentally.
Jinxes, for instance, are commonly cast by accident, without a conscious decision to work magic or a spell. Jinxes are the least serious form of malefic work and are often seen as more of a nuisance than a real threat to our wellbeing. This type of magic is considered to be a small blast of negative energy sent toward a target in a fit of anger or jealousy. A jinx may cause a short spurt of bad luck, may cause you to trip over your shoelace or get a flat tire, or cause you to suffer a minor illness such as a headache or a fainting spell. Things such as the “evil eye” are often seen as a jinx.
Hexes on the other hand are a step up from a jinx. Usually, these are defined as a larger blast of negative energy, intentionally sent to a target in order to harm them. Hexes are usually more than a minor inconvenience and may damage your physical or mental health. They can also damage your love life and personal relationships, financial stability, luck, or your personal belongings (such as your car, computer, or phone). Hexes can be concerning but they are rarely life threatening or a cause for major concern.
A curse, however, is something to be concerned about. A curse is a heavy blast of negative energy intended to not only harm but also destroy an enemy. A curse may cause bad luck so intense that it puts your life in jeopardy, or causes a sickness that threatens your livelihood, as well as destabilizing your personal relationships, job, or housing to the point of leaving you completely destitute. Curses are no joke and should be taken seriously. The good news is that curses of that magnitude tend to be rather difficult to pull off and are therefore fairly uncommon. They can also have repercussions for the caster, and no, I’m not talking about the “rule of three.” All magic has consequences, as well as a cost – that is simply how magic works. Casting something so big, that is intended to create such a drastic downfall of another person, also comes with a cost, and a consequence.
How do I know if I’ve been hexed or cursed?
While every case is different, there are some common signs that may indicate you are on the receiving end of some nasty magic. Please remember that everyone has a bad day, week, month, or even year on occasion, and not all bad luck or bad situations are caused by malefic spells. Similarly, no one of these signs alone is an indication that you are hexed or cursed: you may very well have one or two of these and be totally fine. The intensity of these signs is also something to take into consideration, as that will clue you in on which you are dealing with. Curses will come on stronger, be more dramatic, and last longer than a hex.
- Bad Luck: When it comes to bad luck, I’m not talking about you missed your bus, or you got a flat tire, or your Nana who is in her late hundreds dies “suddenly.” I’m talking unusual things, things that seem to come out of nowhere, especially multiple unusual things all at once. It will also seem like more than just a rough patch – it may feel like the world is suddenly out to get you.
- Nightmares: Folks who are suffering from malefic magical or psychic attack often report having nightmares. This could be for a couple of reasons. First, the nightmares may be an intended effect of the spell to disturb your sleep. Second, the nightmare may be your subconscious attempting to alert you that something is wrong. Often our subconscious mind picks up on subtle shifts in energy before our conscious mind does, so it may try to warn you through your dreams. Pay special attention to dreams where you are being attacked, or harmed, or your space is being invaded. A common sign that signals an attack is a dream that someone has broken into your home and is harming you. Similarly, a dream that someone is unsuccessfully attempting to break into your home may signal that someone is trying to get passed your magical defenses but hasn’t managed to do so successfully. Also pay attention to who is harming you or trying to break in in your dream, as well as any identifying symbols around them. For instance, the person attacking you may be a grizzly beast of some sort, but it may be wearing the jacket of someone you know who has it out for you. Pay attention to these dreams: they may just reveal the identity of your attacker.
- Sudden death of houseplants or pets: An early sign of heavy malefic magic being sent your way is the sudden unexplainable death of house plants. Notice I said “unexplainable.” If you forget to water them for six weeks and they die, that’s not a sign. If, however, you are relatively good with plants and they are thriving one day and dead the next without any major changes in their care, you may be facing some nasty spell work. In extreme cases, you may also experience the sudden death of pets. Again, sometimes pets die unexpectedly. This is normal. But if it’s accompanied by other signs, you may want to address the issue sooner rather than later.
- Sudden or unexplained illness: Always see a doctor if you feel like you are having a mental or physical health issue. If, however, you have a sudden onset of illness (either mental or physical), and the associated professionals can’t seem to find a cause, you may have to consider that the issue is magical rather than mundane.
- Being out of step with time: When folks are hexed, they’ll often feel like they are out of step with time. This may manifest as sudden and unusual lateness or obstacles getting in your way, as well as routinely finding yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Protective charms or wards breaking: If your special bracelet that keeps away evil suddenly breaks, or a charm that you hung up in your house for protection falls down, or your novena candle for protection cracks, it could be a sign that something has overpowered or gotten past your protective measures.
This is in no way a complete list; however, these are some of the most common things to look out for.
What should you do if you suspect you’ve been hexed or cursed?
Here’s the first thing you need to do if you suspect you are under magical attack: stay calm. Freaking out or going into a fear spiral will only rob you of your personal power in this situation.
Third, you need to take some responsibility. We as sovereign beings dictate what energy is allowed to enter our lives and what energy is not. If we have fallen victim to a hex or a curse, we have – in one way or another – allowed it. This is good news however, because as easily as we can allow it, we can dismiss it by taking responsibility and control over the energies that we are allowing into our lives. We can exert this control through counter measures and magical cures.
Fourth, work with simple but powerful remedies. Working with plant allies such as rue, agrimony, hyssop, rosemary, and vervain are excellent ways to remove malefic magic. As well as working reversals, uncrossing, cleansing, and healing spells, which are all appropriate depending on what type of magic is being worked against you. Your divination should clue you in on the best route to take.
Fifth, seek out professional help if you feel like you are in over your head. You may hire a spiritual worker to either do a cleansing on you, or to give you advice around your situation. You may also need to see a physical or mental health professional for assistance.
Historical and cultural considerations
While folks these days like to debate the ethics of malefic magic, very few of them take into consideration historical and cultural reasons why sometimes hexing is necessary or justified. Cultures who have suffered oppression, colonization, and genocide often have a more relaxed view of malefic magic, and therefore will more commonly engage in spiritual warfare. This may include hexing and cursing, or domination work, or ethically questionable love spells. While it’s easy to look down on this type of work from the outside, remember that these kinds of spells were/are often a matter of survival for these people, and were often the only form of defense available to them. This is important to understand.
Similarly, it’s common for folks these days to come across some of these heavy hitting malefic spells from oppressed cultures and decide to use them willy-nilly on anyone who dares to aggravate them. Please remember the context for these spells before you choose to use them. Some of these were meant to be used on slave masters and genocidal conquerors, not Becky up the street that flirted with your boyfriend. Historical and cultural context is important when it comes to understanding any and all magic.
J. Allen Cross is a practicing witch whose craft was shaped by his mixed family culture. Living in his home state of Oregon, he works as a psychic medium and occult specialist for a well-known paranormal investigation team out of the Portland metro area. When he’s not investigating, he enjoys providing spells to his local community, exploring haunted and abandoned places, working as a consultant for other workers and investigators, and of course writing about witchcraft. Follow him on Instagram at @oregon_wood_witch.
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