A “curse” (Tagalog kulam) is an illness obtained through the power of the evil one. It is often sent by someone to a victim by reason of hatred, envy, or jealousy through a spell conjured by an occult practitioner.
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The Exorcism Prayer of St. Cyprian Bishop-Martyr of Nicomedia (A c. 304 AD) to break Curses and Magic lists things that a conjurer does to send maledictions. And renowned Exorcist Rev. Fr. Gabriel Amorth gives the following distinctions of curses:
As to purpose
1. Amorous – to obtain the love of a person or to destroy the object of amorous feeling’s relationship with others so as to free that person in order to obtain his/her love. In Pilipino this is gayuma.
2. Poisonous - to cause physical, psychological, familial, or economic ruin on the victim.
3. Binding – to block action, movement, relationships.
4. Transference – to transfer to the victim the hideous things usually in the form of torments performed on a doll or photo of the person targeted.
5. Putrefaction – to procure a sickness leading to death, usually there is a rotting of an internal organ involved.
6. Possession – to conjure a demon and command it to possess the victim.
As to method
1. Direct – where the curse is introduced to the intended victim through an object which would touch the body of the person such as by way cursed food or drink.
2. Indirect – where the curse is performed in an object that represents the victim such as a voodoo doll.
As to operation
1. By puncture and torture – using pins, nails, hammer, blade, fire, ice, bugs.
2. By tying or binding – with laces, knots, bridles, ribbons, bands, hoops, chains.
3. By putrefaction – burying the object, throwing it to the sea where it cannot be found. The cursed object is symbolic of the victim. At times the cursed object is an animal sacrificed to the demon that would deliver the curse.
4. By malediction (Tagalog sumpa) – wishing ill directly upon the person, or on a photo, or a symbol.
5. By Satanic rite – using a Satanic cult or black mass perfomed with the purpose of inflicting mortal harm on the intended victim.
As to means
1. With hexes and spells – puppets or meat with pins, bones of the dead, blood, toads, chickens, insects.
2. With cursed objects – gifts, plants, pillows, dolls, ribbons, talismans
3. With an evil eye, a touch of the hand, an embrace, a breath
4. With a telephone – whether in silence, a word, a breath, or something else.
(Reference: Gabriel Amorth, “The ways and the means of Evil”, Memoirs of an Exorcist: My Life Fighting Satan. Trans. Marco Tosatti. Kindle Edition. Piemme. September 16, 2014)
How is one a victim of a curse?
Real conjurers of curses are intrinsically of a diabolic source. Hence the power is from the Devil. A curse’s power over a human being (the victim/s) is dependent on the openings present in them. The more openings the victim has the deeper the effect of the curse. Hence, it can be safely inferred that if a person is affected by a curse the person is already pre-disposed to it.
Protection from Curses
The protection from a real curse can only be something that is supernatural or divine in nature. Therefore, the first protection is protection on the level of the soul, in this case, habitual sanctifying grace. The person should therefore not be in a state of sin, specifically mortal sin. Now grace is restored in the soul through repentance and the sacrament of reconciliation. The second protection is protection on the level of mind and will, and here the practice and life of virtue –prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice strengthened by the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity play a crucial role. The virtues of faith, hope, and charity are fortified by actual grace received through regular reverent reception of the sacraments and development of a regular prayer life. The devout use of the sacramentals of the Church, greatly aid in protection of mind, body, and spirit. Therefore, habitual sanctifying grace in the soul, actual graces, virtues life, sacramentals are to be present as one in the person if they are to prevent curses from affecting them. If the curses are sent to a properly protected person, the curse will bounce back to the conjurer.
The story of the conversion of St. Cyprian of Nicomedia to Christianity from being a very powerful sorcerer gives us insights on how curses work and how prayer and fasting are able to twart them.