Cursed and Enchanted Objects

The Book of Thoth is a name given to a number of books purported to be written by Thoth, the Egyptian God of Knowledge. One version of the book is described in the ancient story Setne I. In the story, the book contained two spells—a spell to speak to animals, and one to perceive the gods. The book was originally hidden at the bottom of the Nile, locked and guarded by serpents, until it was retrieved by Prince Neferkaptah. As punishment, he was driven to suicide and entombed with the book. Years later, Prince Setne Khamwas retrieves the book from Neferkaptah’s tomb. The prince is seduced by the illusion of a beautiful woman who convinces him to kill his children, and make a fool of himself in front of the Pharaoh. Prince Setne returns the book in fear of further punishment. Image: Hunefer’s Book of the Dead, detail with Thoth

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The Black Aggie is the unauthorized—and cursed—copy of the funerary sculpture for Clover Adams (of the presidentially famous Adams family) who died by suicide. Legends say her eyes glow at night and make men go blind, that her shadow causes miscarriages, that sleeping on her lap causes death, and even that she tore her own arm off, giving it to a local metal worker. After enough incidents, the statue was removed from the cemetery and sequestered in the basement of the Smithsonian. She’s currently installed in the courtyard of the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building in Washington D.C. Photo: dbking on Flickr

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A Hand of Glory is a severed, pickled hand of a hanged evildoer, either the left hand or the hand that did the evil dead. When combined with a candle made from the evildoer’s fat, it has the power to unlock doors and freeze people in place. The candle’s flame can only be put out with milk, and only shows to its holder. Photo of a Hand of Glory on display at Whitby Museum by Badobadop

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The Björketorp runestone in Sweden is famous for being among the tallest in the world—and the ancient curse inscribed on it. The monument’s purpose is unknown, but the curse is clear: destroy the stone and be doomed, like the farmer who was burned alive trying to remove it. Image: Sveriges Montelius, 1877

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