Real-Life Curses That Will Make You Think Twice About Making Somebody Angry

People typically think of curses as purely fictional, but there are more than a few that have left a lasting impression on the world. Real life curses are quite different than their fictional counterparts. Their effects, especially on the targets, are enough to make even the most hardened skeptic question their beliefs. These curses from around the world show that making somebody angry can have a serious backlash.

Curses are a strange thing — many times, they work because the victims believe in them. But that's not the only way they can make an impact. Numerous famous curses have shown that belief is only part of the equation, and that a well-placed hex can have a tangible effect even when nobody sees it coming.

While plenty of people have claimed to be the victim of a curse because of a mere string of bad luck, there are in fact historical and modern records of curses that work. It's not all eye of newt and tongue of frog. From simple ill wishes to magic rituals, these curses prove that you shouldn't underestimate the power of things you don't understand.

Photo: flickr / CC0

  • Australian Hospitals Sometimes Have Staff To Deal With This Curse

    Bone pointing is a practice of aboriginal Australians, in which a kurdaitcha (an executioner), points a bone or other object at a victim. The victim is then said to become listless and ill, typically refusing to eat or drink until they succumb to the illness and die.

    While it's hypothesized that the response from victims is mostly psychosomatic, that doesn't mean it's treated any less seriously. Belief in the curse is strong enough to have a tangible effect, and doctors and nurses in Australia are sometimes trained to handle cases where these curses have induced symptoms in their patients. The practice has lost popularity in modern times, but there are several documented cases of victims of bone pointing dying because of their belief in the curse. They believe themselves doomed and, resigned to their fate, die of self-inflicted starvation or dehydration. That's reason enough to consider it a real curse.

  • The August Curse Causes Misfortune In Russia

    The August Curse, a belief that bad things are more likely to happen in August, carries a pretty significant weight in Russia. Since 1991, numerous tragic events have happened during August, including plane crashes, bombings, and wildfires. Russia has had some rough Augusts prior to 1991 as well, of course, including the battle of Stalingrad, the siege of Leningrad, and the opening of the Eastern Front during World War I.

    There are various theories as to why the August Curse might exist. Some believe it's not a curse at all, but rather coincidence or a deliberate exploitation of the fact that important people tend to take vacations during August, leading to higher potential for terrorism. Others propose that the alignment of planets is to blame. Whatever the reason, many Russians believe firmly there's something especially dangerous about the month of August.

  • The Tichborne Dole Curse Punishes The Miserly

    The Tichborne Dole is an old English tradition that required the Tichborne family to donate a large amount of food to the poor every year. Lady Mabella Tichborne, who started the tradition, laid a curse on whoever should break the tradition. If the food was not donated, the Tichborne family would have a generation of seven sons, then seven daughters, and then family name would die out.

    In 1796, the family stopped the dole, reportedly due to claims that poor people and vagabonds were "abusing the privilege." By 1803, part of the family home had collapsed. One branch of the family tree had indeed produced seven brothers, and Sir Henry Tichborne – one of those brothers – had seven daughters of his own. Several of those brothers died, and the dole was reinstated. The last remaining brother, Sir Alfred, managed to carry on the family name.

  • Timur's Curse May Have Escalated World War II

    Tutankhamen might have the most famous tomb curse, but Timur might have the pharaoh beat in terms of efficacy. Timur was a Turco-Mongol conqueror in the 1300s. His remains were entombed in the Gur-e Amir in Uzbekistan, and his body was exhumed in 1941. Reportedly, his tomb contained two engravings — one that read, "When I rise from the dead, the world shall tremble," and another inside the casket that read, "Whomsoever opens my tomb shall unleash an invader more terrible than I."

    Curses on tombs are not uncommon, but what happened after Timur's tomb was opened changed the course of history. A mere two days after Timur was exhumed, Adolf Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. Barbarossa remains the largest military invasion in history. Timur was reburied over a year later under Islamic rites, and the tide of the fight in the Soviet Union – specifically the Battle of Stalingrad – began to change shortly after. 

  • Australia's Socceroos Get Cursed After Cursing Someone Else

    Australia's Socceroos Get Cursed After Cursing Someone Else
    Photo: Pexels / Pixabay / CC-0

    Any string of bad luck will have fans claiming their favorite sports team is cursed, but that really seems to be the case with the Australia national soccer team, AKA the Socceroos.. Reportedly, the team asked a witch doctor to curse their opponents, Rhodesia, in 1969. The witch doctor did so, but when he asked for a $1,000 payment, the team claimed to not have enough money.

    Years of bad luck followed, to such a degree that some people believed the whole of Australian soccer was cursed. Fed up with years of losing, comic John Safran investigated. As it turned out, the original witch doctor had died. Instead, Safran asked another witch doctor to enter the original stadium and channel his spirit. After a ceremony (which included animal sacrifice), the team qualified and advanced to the second round of the World Cup in 2006. They have since qualified for two more.

  • Carlisle Resurrects A 500-Year-Old Curse

    In 1525, the Archbishop of Glasgow cursed the Reiver people, who were alternately English and Scottish as the countries' borders shifted. This curse, which is over 1000 words long, was revenge for the Reivers' theft of sheep and cattle. It included cursing the people's heads, teeth, hair, and mouths, as well as calling for thunder and lightning to rain down upon them. The Reiver eventually passed from the annals of history, and some of their descendants settled in the city of Carlisle. 

    In 2001, Carlisle decided to engrave 383 words of that curse on a stone. Complete chaos followed. Carlisle experienced an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, floods, fires, and job losses. Some in town called for the stone's destruction, while others warned that breaking it might give it more power. It's unclear what has happened to Carlisle and the stone in recent years. Maybe ignoring it made the curse lose its power, or maybe the town has simply accepted their bad luck.