Four Tales of Curses That May (or May Not) Be True

Can a curse cause real misfortune?

Voodoo display
Curses: Real or all in the mind? Does it matter?.   Richard Cummins / Getty Images

A curse is an expression of or wish for misfortune, harm, evil, or doom by a person for another. Curses are not taken seriously by most educated people in the western world, yet they might retain their power and influence over those who believe in them. Belief could be the key to a curse's power. If a person believes—even on a subconscious or psychological level—that he or she has been cursed, then its effects can be powerful.

Consider the following reports of curses and their sometimes devastating effects, and judge for yourself whether they are produced by dark, sinister, external forces, or are brought about from the minds of those who have been cursed.

The Old Housemaid's Curse

This first report comes from O. F. about a strange incident that happened to her grandparents who, in their retirement, enjoyed traveling around the world. One trip took them to New Orleans, a city with a long tradition of witchcraft, voodoo, and other assorted dark arts.

On this occasion, her grandparents were staying at a bed and breakfast that was once an old plantation. After a restful night, they awoke and were ready for an enjoyable breakfast. "The housemaid and server who waited on them was an elderly Black woman with a thick southern accent," says O.F. "She graciously served my grandfather his juice, coffee, and toast, but when it came to my grandmother, she threw the juice in her lap and broke the tea kettle on the floor next to her."

Furious over this inexplicable behavior, the grandfather stood and demanded to know what the outburst was all about. The housemaid ignored him and glared at the perplexed grandmother, and screamed a curse: "God is going to get you!" she shrieked, then threw down her apron and ran from the building.

O.F.'s grandparents complained to the management. The management promised to fire the woman, but claimed she could not be found. "My grandparents got their entire stay there for free," she says. The owners were even called in, who apologized exceedingly for their recent employee's horrible behavior.

Over the next few days, however, the old woman's curse seemed to have its effect on O.F.'s poor, innocent grandmother:

  • She tripped on the sidewalk and dislocated her shoulder
  • She lost her purse along with $300 cash, credit cards and I.D.
  • Their rental car stopped working for no apparent reason
  • The lights refused to stay lit in their bedroom and bathroom, while the rest of the hotel lights worked fine
  • She was haunted by horrible, demonic nightmares the entire time she was there, and swore up and down that she had awoken several times during the night to find the maid standing over her, watching her.

Finally, having enough, they cut the trip short and returned home, but many incidents of misfortune seemed to follow the old couple for an entire year after their New Orleans trip and the old housemaid's curse.

The Gypsy's Curse

Candice also suspects that her great-grandmother was the victim of a curse—this one proclaimed by an angry Gypsy woman. Candice's great-grandparents were migrant workers who traveled from place to place seeking employment wherever they could find it. Much of their time, however, was spent in Southern Texas, close to the Mexican border, where it was common to see gypsies traveling through, selling various items.

One day, a gypsy woman came to their house trying to sell some things, none of which Candice's great-grandmother needed. The gypsy woman was not so easily dismissed, however. She was very insistent and refused to even let the door to be closed on her. She said she knew there was money hidden in a jar in the house and that she wanted it. Her great-grandmother did indeed have such a jar, but did not know how the Gypsy woman would know that.

"My great-grandmother wasn't intimidated and basically pushed her out of the way and yelled some various offenses to run her off," Candice says. But the gypsy woman was not so easily intimidated either. They exchanged words and the gypsy woman cursed her, saying that she was going to die soon by choking on her tongue!

Less than a year later, Candice's great-grandmother had a heart attack and had, in fact, choked on her tongue.

Curse of the Witch of the Woods

Justin believes he has been haunted by the curse of a witch, yet he isn't sure how much of his encounter is real and how much is a product of his young imagination. At about nine years old, when his all began, he was the member of a Cub Scout troop that was winter camping in the woods of northern Massachusetts. Naturally, the older Boy Scouts enjoyed scaring the younger scouts with spooky tales, one of which was about an old witch who lived and died in those very woods—in fact, her cabin still stood nearby.

They even set off into the snow-covered woods to find the cabin. "Of course, imaginations running wild, we were all both excited and filled with fear," remembers Justin. "The woods can make for a lot of strange noises that could have been just a small animal, fallen trees, and branches settling or breaking in the wind."

Then Justin says he saw something unusual. "I looked outward through the gnarled branches in the distance and had to squint my eyes and try and focus, because I kept thinking I was seeing something," he says. "Then I realized what I was looking at, and could feel it watching me, as if its stare pierced me with knives. It was horrible. What I saw looked to be an old woman, but she looked like she was part of the woodlands, like part tree. Her face was a tannish brown and her hair was mixed with silver, gray, and white, looking more like twigs, like those small birch twigs wrapped in white bark. The eyes, I could never see well, they were always dark, maybe hollow. Her mouth was unnoticeable, and as I stared, frozen, I kept seeing it move, fast, like some mad beast romping through the woods around its prey."

The "witch" that Justin saw was surely just an illusion. Yet he soon began to experience her curse for the intrusion on her property. Justin turned and fell face first onto the ice, severely cutting his bottom lip with his teeth, requiring stitches at the nearest hospital.

The curse did not end there, however, and returned in full force when Justin was 19 years old. The Witch of the Woods haunted Justin's dreams—dreams that were startlingly vivid and terrifying. And in each successive dream, she appeared ever closer to him. "When I felt her presence, it felt like so much hate and rage," Justin says. "I don't know if just toward me or simply in general, but I have never felt such hate in my life, and such fear and dread of something as I did her."

The dreams or visions of her continued off and on, vexing Justin for nearly two years before they finally subsided... for awhile. When Justin turned 23, they returned. "Everything about her was the same," he says. "I was at a point in my life of being retrospective and observant of things around me and my past, so I began to realize last time I saw her, a string of bad luck ensued on me.

"In these past few years, since the last dream where she is even closer than in all the others, my wife and I have been in constant misery, economically, mentally, physically—as if our physical and mental beings are deteriorating, and it hits us one thing after another or on top of the other. Inside it has become like despair, like something inside of me, eating away at me, trying to break my will and my spirit. The witch constantly haunts me in my mind now. Whether it is my imagination putting a face on something I'm unaware of or it truly is some sort of curse, I do not know."

A Black Magic Curse Backfires

This final tale of a curse happened to a family in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1929. The baby of the family was mysteriously afflicted with a dangerously high fever, and no matter what they did, nobody could bring it down.

One night, there was a knock on the door, and in stepped a stranger who told the family that there had been a curse placed on the baby by someone else in the family who was very jealous of the child. He said he could bring the fever down and break the curse, but if he did so, the witch who cast the curse would die.

The family hardly believed his story and didn't know anyone who was a practicing witch, but they were desperate, so they let the man in to try. The strange man prayed over the baby all night and seemed to go into some sort of trance at stages.

The next morning, the baby was healthy and the curse had been broken. The overjoyed family thanked the man and he departed, leaving them with the chilling words, "Now someone else in your family is dead."

The family had no idea who this man was and never saw him again, but they were so relieved that the baby wasn't sick anymore that the aunt went around to all the family's relatives to relay the good news. To her horror, however, when she entered her mother and father's home, the stepsister (of the baby with the fever) was hanging by a rope from the chandelier.

She was the only one in the family that died, so the family assumed that she was the witch who cast the spell. It was then learned that this step-sister was very jealous of the new baby. She had been used to being an only child for years and years as the older ones had grown and moved away. When the baby arrived and she began to seclude herself in her room. Her mother came forward and revealed that she thought her daughter was practicing dark magic.