Lately it seems like binding spells have gotten a bad reputation. Far from being merely used for cursing, binding is an essential part of all witchcraft, beyond restraining undesirables or compelling a lover. We bind the ingredients in our spells to each other, to objects, to ourselves and others. All witchcraft, at least the effective kind, is spellbinding.
I recently wrote about the truth of the statement, “a witch that can’t hex, can’t heal.” In that article I talked about the widespread misrepresentation of hexing, especially that this type of witchery should be avoided. Binding is often viewed as part of hexing or cursing, but it’s so much more than that. Why is it that this type of powerful witchery that’s been around for thousands of years has gotten a bad reputation? Perhaps it’s because binding magick has received so much attention throughout the centuries where it has almost unanimously been seen as evil. If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that the more evil a form of witchcraft is perceived by the power structure, Christian or otherwise, the more powerful it is. Added to this is that the way it’s portrayed by the power structure is usually an attempt to vilify what works by twisting it into so many knots that it’s hardly recognizable by practitioners of the craft. Those knot spells of ours are mighty, indeed. Terrifying to some.
All Witchcraft Requires Binding
All witchcraft requires binding. If we didn’t bind the ingredients of spells together, then they wouldn’t work. They’d just be a bunch of loose ingredients and disinterested spirits. To be spellbound means that one is under the control of witchcraft. This can be voluntary, as with a handfasting, or involuntary, for example when a person has unwittingly been prevented from doing certain things. Involuntary binding has been used for millennia, with popular recent examples of applying the technique to deplorable public figures. Denying that all witchery entails binding gets into the area of practicing socially acceptable magick. So called positive and negative spells. Honestly, magick doesn’t know (or care) about modern ethics. Neither did Hekate’s ancient witches when they cast their binding spells. What is negative to one is positive to another. Focus on witchery that solves your problems. Develop your own code instead of listening to those gatekeepers.
Binding An Individual
Think of binding as wrapping a magickal cord or chain around people or objects. When it comes to restraining an individual, binding is often done to stop them from doing something. Often done without the target’s permission, this can be considered a form of baneful witchery as it interferes with another’s free will. This type of binding can be done as a form of protection, cursing, or a combination. Binding an individual is an ancient form of witchery, with hundreds of known examples dating back over 2,000 years. Binding, traditionally, was done in response to a wrong being committed, whether stealing livestock or romantic betrayals. Those ancient practitioners were more concerned with achieving their goals, often as a form of restorative justice, rather than ethics. Why is it that witchcraft today is obsessed with the appearance of doing the acceptable thing? Perhaps it’s a hangover from the days of persecution or is it that we are still afraid to step into our power?
Types of individual binding include prevention, punishment and control. One method of binding an individual is to take an image of the person, write a specific incantation and then roll it tight and bind it with cord or chain. I usually light the whole thing on fire to set my binding in motion. Binding herbs, such as skullcap, can be added.
When binding a toxic person, the point is to bind their actions to themselves. Weave a magickal shield around them that prevents them from further harming others. That’s pure binding. Adding a bit of a justice curse, such as “may they know and feel all the pain they have caused others” into the binding can also be done.
Often we need to bind an individual because they have betrayed us through word or deed. They have broken an oath, laws or a moral code. Taking an oath doesn’t necessarily involve witchery, but it’s common for traditions and schools to require members to swear to keep quiet about certain things, and to promise to behave in certain ways. Being oathbound becomes magickal when spirits, correspondences, and even blood are added to this commitment. A blood oath, for example, is viewed as being especially strong. Initiation is a type of rebirth binding, to a deity or to a tradition. Remember what is done is very difficult to undo.
While traditions use binding to ensure secrecy and code of conduct, the most important way we can be oathbound is to ourselves. Binding ourselves to our personal policies is about magickally strengthening our abilities to enforce our personal boundaries.
Binding to AnotherThen there are those people whom we want to be attached to. Handfasting is a type of binding magick. Lockets, containing images of loved ones, are one example of a simple binding charm. Using the image of the target of a binding spell is an effective technique, as is using poppets (dolls) of fabric or wax. A historical approach was to use parts of another, human or animal, to represent the target. Using an animal heart in sympathetic magick is one example. The heart was bound, literally, in a container, and magickally. This binding can be apotropaic, used for cursing, or in erotic spells. Hearts have a long history of use in witchcraft that you can read more about here.
Before binding yourself to another, consider the consequences. Do you really want to establish an unbreakable chain around the two (or more) of you? I’ve been through this. Trust me, breaking that chain is an ordeal.
Binding to Spirits
We can also bind ourselves to spirits. This can be a relationship of equals, where the spirits are our allies or one of subservience with the spirits doing our bidding. Creating a fetch to go forth into the world to weave your will requires binding the spirit (entity, animal or otherwise) to us so that we can use their abilities and characteristics when we wish.
Attaching to an object so that we can fully harness it’s powers is another form of binding, one that I often use. The object can be a magickal tool, like a blade or wand, or even a thought form. These purely energetic creations can be tools or vast structures. I am bound to the place created on The Starry Road where I meet with my witch family of friends, students, and others. Fetches and servitors can also be completely energetic creations or be the spirits of creatures from the material world. Objects can be bound to perform in certain ways. Restrictions can be placed on them so that others’ won’t be able to use them effectively. Magickally binding ourselves to our homes helps to ensure that they remain an extension of our energy field. This creates a psychic tether enabling us to be aware of trouble. There are so many ways to use binding with objects. Of course, we often use objects in binding spells, whether it’s a witch ball containing a toxic person or a sigil crafted into the superior binder of birch bark.
There are times when we can become spellbound by others using the methods I’ve described or other means. If you feel that you’ve been wrapped up in witchery, the first step is to thoroughly cleanse your energetic field, then release the remnants into a spell trap or do a boomerang spell to send it all back to the originator.
Claiming the Power of Binding
The very first spell I ever did, over twenty five years ago, was a binding cord. I stood with a friend on a beach and we bound my ex, who was stalking me and causing all manner of trouble. Since then, binding spells have become a staple of my witchery, especially knot spells and binding sigils. Binding is not to be feared, but rather a way for witches to claim their power. After all, isn’t the point of witchery to cast spells that are truly spellbinding?