One of my readers asked me to clarify the ideas behind binding spells. And it's a great topic to look at! Whole movies and books have revolved around it, so there's a lot of interest out there.
At some point in every Witch's development, the question of performing a binding spell occurs. When should you do one? What's a good enough reason? And what are the karmic implications?
Let's start with what a binding is: A spell to keep someone--the caster or someone else--from doing a specific action or actions. And yes, it does involve hindering someone's free will; consequently, I take binding as a practice very seriously indeed.
Before we start down this path, I want to remind everyone that my stance on "harm none" is pretty simple: It's not possible. You are harming things every day, from the grass you walk on to the environment you live in. That's not to say that you shouldn't go out of your way to avoid harming people, but let's be realistic. Any spell you perform to enhance something in your life is going to "harm" directly or indirectly someone or something else. Fluffy-bunny Wiccans might say otherwise, but as a practicing Witch, that's where I stand.
With that said, on the surface, taking away someone's free will is most definitely not "white magick"; you're definitely harming someone. But there is one question that should be central to your understanding of binding, or of any magickal working for that matter: What is your intent? To be clear, it's not what you SAY your intent is, but it's what you INTEND to do with your spell. This will also determine the karmic backlash you receive if any.
For example, did you know that love spells are actually binding spells in disguise? That's one of the reasons I never recommend using them. When you bind someone to love only you, you're taking away their free will to love or be with someone else. At that point, it's pure selfishness and ego driving you, and you can expect a pretty severe karmic bitch-slap for that.
But let's use another scenario. Let's say that you are concerned that a co-worker is gossiping about you or causing trouble for you deliberately at work. Before I even considered binding that person or "freezing" them in water--another great variant on the binding with the same impact!--I'd recommend protection spells. You can perform spells to protect "you and yours"--significant other, friends, pets, etc.--from harm with no concern about karmic repercussions. So I usually recommend starting there unless the danger is imminent.
If there's no change in the situation in 3-4 weeks--and YES, you do have to wait that long--then a binding is something you could consider.
Once again, let's go back to INTENT. If you intend to keep this person from gossiping about you and causing trouble at work, then that's essentially protecting "you and yours" and karmically you should be OK.
My concern is bindings that also cause harm to the target. If you want the person to stop causing trouble and gossiping and you also want them to perform poorly at the office, then you've crossed a line. Your INTENT must be crystal clear and not intend to cause any harm to your target.
This last point is exceptionally important, folks. I'm a Scorpio, and we could practically write the "Don't get mad...get even!" book. If your spell involves the target receiving worse than they've given you, then once again you've crossed a line. With "I hope his dick falls off!" you risk having problems with your own genitalia, for example, when the target was unfaithful to you.
To be clear, revenge and justice are two different things. You don't bind someone as a punishment or to mete out justice in your own way; you bind them to protect yourself and those you hold dear. If you want the Universe to deal out something worse for your target than you yourself received, you're asking for trouble. But you don't bind someone for justice, either.
Before I forget, you can also bind yourself, and this is a great way of helping yourself spiritually if you're trying to keep from doing something that harms you--smoking, overeating, etc. Of course, you won't get any bad karma from using it this way.
Finally, a binding to me is a serious spell done in serious circumstances. In other words, once you have tried to accomplish your goals on the mundane level without success, and you've worked some protection magick, then you can start to consider working a binding. But not before. I take a more conservative approach than others and I'll freely admit that point.
If we go back to our earlier gossipy co-worker, you should start by addressing the problem. You gather your evidence and you talk to this person, your supervisor, or their supervisor, or a neutral third party, like a human resources person or peer counselor. These are mundane--earthly, material--ways of dealing with this problem, and they should not be ignored.
In other words, your first thought should not be to go home, make a poppet to look like your colleague, and bind them from ever receiving a promotion. Start in the mundane world, and work toward magickal solutions as necessary. If you don't need to use magick to solve this problem, then great! You can use the energy to fuel that prosperity spell with tax season upon us, right?
Bottom line: Binding is serious business, and it's a great tool to have in your Witch's toolbox. But Abraham Maslow once said, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you'll see every problem as a nail." Simply put, binding--and magick as a whole-- is NOT the answer to all of life's problems. It's used to help things along when necessary. And the Universe will often handle the problem for you; granted you might not be around to see a person receive their karmic just desserts, but that's just your ego talking. With a little time and some effort, you can swallow your pride. And sometimes, that's the best course of action.
I'll just end by re-stating what I hope you take away from this blog. Binding someone else requires a thorough, honest look at your true intent. If the need is clear, and your intent is pure, then have at it! If you realize that you may be risking some karmic repercussions, back off and make sure you've done everything else you can in the mundane world before making a mistake that could lead to disastrous consquences.