It seems like people are forever misusing the “Curse” word. They say “Curse”, but what they are describing is not in fact a curse. It’s a word which gets throw around a lot, and it seems like one of the more common tropes in literature, to have a character who has been cursed and must struggle to free themselves from their bonds. Probably every witch will hear of someone (or be someone) who was asked, “Am I cursed?” “No, you are not”, is the most common answer. Because it takes a lot to put a curse on someone. And people tend to associtate their own mishaps, born of their own actions, as some huge run of bad luck put on them by someone else. Seems it is human nature to try and find a scape-goat. I’ve also seen people post spells in groups and call it a curse, when it is really a hex- and often barely even that. As well as people asking for advice on “cursing someone”, when again, what they are looking for is a hex.
There are different levels of magical effect involved with these names. I don’t know of anyone who is familiar with “baneful” works who would call any old baneful spell a “curse”. The go-to is usually a hex. I’ll give you my opinion of the ordering of these terms based on effort and energetic requirements. As well as intended function.
Firstly, there is the “Evil Eye”. Not because it is considered weak or anything- not by any means! But because it is so easy to use even the adverage Joe sometimes uses it without even knowing. You can put as much energy into it as you feel like. It is the focusing of emotion-pent energy fired at a target almost like fairy shot, for the purpose of afflicting their health, well-being, fortunes, or otherwise causing them difficulties in their life. The adverage person most often seems to direct it with emotions of jealousy, anger, or profoundly offended feelings. Admittedly I used to abuse this power in school, directing it towards people who were rude or abusive toward me. My goal was to make them dizzy, nauseous, or most often, to make them trip. It worked a little to well actually. Depending on the level of force behind it, the affliction can be simple (and rather petty), or very serious. If you’ve ever heard a story about someone pissing off an old woman, and she points at them, giving the evil eye whilst warning them their actions will come back to haunt them- that’s what I’m taking about. It doesn’t have to be so obvious though. You can smack someone with this as they pass you by and they may never know what hit them. Then later they may start asking people if they are “cursed”. Haha!
In the “middle level”, we have Hexes, Jinxes, and Crossings. These are basically all words for the same thing, just from different magical cultures. Some people use the term “jinx” as a sort of “lesser hex”. It depends on the culture around your practice, I think. Probably most witches just use “hex”. This is the real bread and butter of baneful work. This is the category the vast majority of things people are working and talking about falls under. When people say “curse” , the majority of the time they mean hex. They just don’t know enough to realize it, generally. Hexes involve a sort of ritual, rather than just active focus. Think making a poppet of someone to screw with, or laying some hotfoot powder for the target to walk across and be afflicted. (Linked to them before being sprinkled down, of course, so it doesn’t affect just anyone who walks over it.) Whereas the “Evil Eye” tends to be raw energy slung in the heat of the moment, a hex uses a methodical process of tools and techniques to really build up the energy and purpose of the spell before firing it off to do its work. Hexes are meant to be more short-term solutions, spanning from a one-off hit to maybe five years at most.
The “high level”, if you will, are Curses. Curses are designed specifically to afflict a person, place, or thing over a long span of time. In many cases a lifetime. It may even be set to affect multiple generations. It drags the target into a vicious cycle intended to cause destruction in their life (usually in the form of very self-destructive habits or serious long-term illness.) If they are already in a destructive cycle, it can be set to lock them into that cycle for the rest of their days. Curses have a ritual process, as hexes do. Curses take a lot of energy, effort, and forethought. No one just gets angry at someone, goes home, and puts a curse on them. This is the big gun- the “you fucked up big time” spell. It is most often applied in cases which call for serious social justice. Like someone everybody knows is guilty; who may have confessed in private even, that the police just can’t seem to nab. When the practical justice system fails or can’t do anything about it, thats when a witch breaks out the tougher arsenal. The next most common reason for its use is probably the “you seriously hurt my children, now you’re going down!” You know, the Mama Bear reaction. Because of the effort involved, and the fact that people rarely give witches cause for that sort of working, actually being cursed is rather rare. If you really have been cursed- it’s probable someone really felt you deserved it. If it is a generational curse, it’s probable multiple generations of the family were seriously messed up people. It’s unfortunate though, if it gets passed along for too many generations and affects people who may not even know of their family’s past. At any rate, you don’t talk about cursing people for “pettier” things or disagreements. I would say that curses are actually rather impractical to do on a regular basis anyway.
Lastly, there are Death spells. But those are sort of a leauge of their own. Off the scale, if you will. Obviously, as the name implies, a death spell is geared toward snaring someone into impending demise. One doesn’t even attempt this sort of spell unless someone is so vile they really deserve to die. It can be quick, or involve long agony. Either way, they will end up in a grave if you did it right.
I generally don’t agree with morality policing when it comes to witchcraft. I believe there are genuinely times which call for these types of magic, even from a moral standpoint. Some of these get slung about more often than they probably should. But as far as I’m concerned, trying to deny that witches wouldn’t or shouldn’t use such magics is to deny a large part of our heritage and power. Better to emphasize individuals should not abuse their power and act accordingly for a situation, than try to tell them not to use their power at all. That is one of the reasons I wrote this peice. I feel the denial and avoidance of the subject is one reason so many people confuse the terms, what they are, and what they involve. Better to be learned about it. To have it and not need it, than need it and not have it, as the saying goes! Although this was still rather vauge in details, I hope it helps clear things up for someone.