Wolf Files: Contemporary Curses

Ancient Tradition of Wishing Harm Lives On

By Buck Wolf

Australia's prime minister became the victim of a curse last week, when an Aboriginal woman in possum skins pointed a kangaroo bone at him. But these days, putting a curse on someone is as easy as shopping on the Internet.

Modern-day shamans and voodoo doctors are online, alongside psychics and faith healers. But instead of giving you visions of wealth and fame, they promise to inflict sickness and misery on those you hate.

In the contemporary curse market, hexes come with return and exchange policies. Many sites take credit cards, and if you send a lock of hair, they'll build you the perfect voodoo doll.

And if you fear you're the victim of a curse, they'll lift that naughty hex just as fast as you can whip out a credit card.

Of course, if you're rich and famous, you can pay six-figure retainers to your personal shaman, like Michael Jackson reportedly did.

You'd think that having a brother in the White House would be a source of security, but first brother Neil Bush complained through a lawyer last year that his estranged wife, Sharon, was pulling out his hair as part of a plot to cast an evil spell.

I'm not saying there aren't people who deserve to be cursed. It's just that most curses fail to perform as promised in the advertising. Just ask King Tut.

"Death shall come on swift wings to him who disturbs the peace of the king," was supposedly etched on the king's tomb.

Indeed, Lord Carnarvon, who financed the excavation that uncovered Tutankhamen's tomb, died in 1922, just days after he entered the crypt. Thus a legend was born, even though the 56-year-old British earl had been a sickly man.

The gods apparently decided not to punish Howard Carter, Carnarvon's chief archaeologist, who lived another 17 years, passing away at age 65.

In fact, the 26 people directly responsible for the King Tut excavation lived, on average, more than 73 years, according to paranormal investigator James Randi. "Far from being a curse, it might be lucky to disturb a pharaoh's tomb," Randi says. "These people beat the life span expectation for those days by about a year."