Illustrated by Jihyang Lim


Ask A Witch: How To Bind A Toxic Ex

Tie up all that bad energy

In ”Ask a Witch,” Gabriela Herstik answers your questions about channeling ancient wisdom in the modern age. From spellcraft to finding your path, explore what it means to be a millennial witch. If you have a question about all things magickal, contact Herstik on Twitter via @gabyherstik or Instagram @gabyherstik 

Question: Do you have a spell or ritual to help me move on from a terrible ex?!

Answer: February 10 was the Leo full moon, and it’s also the beginning of eclipse season. Full moons are the ripest energetic time of the month, and with the sun in humanitarian and trailblazing Aquarius, and the moon in dramatic and regal Leo, things can feel intense. Eclipses are portals of intense change, and if you factor in Valentine’s Day and the current political climate, it’s the perfect storm to cut ties from toxic people, create art, and embrace the new energy with eager arms and a solid foundation. 

I got this same question regarding cutting out old exes from someone else, and, frankly, I had personally been planning a ritual for the same thing for this full moon. A theme that has consistently shown up this past month is the reminder that no one has the right to your energy except you.

There are some witches who cast curses and hex people. I’m not one of them. If that’s in your practice, go for it. But personally, I'd rather do everything I can to stop someone’s bad energy without adding my own malicious energy into the mix. That's why I work with binding spells, which prevent someone’s energy from getting to you at all.

Below, I wrote a simple binding spell you can do to stop someone from harming you. The goal of the spell is to make sure no energy reaches you unless it’s working from a place of love and for your highest purpose. 

For example, I am using Donald Trump and his administration to demonstrate what to say in a binding spell; to repurpose for personal use, replace anything in italics with whoever it is you’re binding. 

What you’ll need:

Paper and a pen

Red string or cord

A lighter and somewhere to potentially burn paper

Sage, Mugwort, Pine, whatever you use to smudge

Obsidian, onyx, labradorite

Step 1: Ground and center. Set up a sacred space, take deep breaths, cleanse your space. Do whatever you need to do to be calm, present, and powerful. If casting a circle is in your practice, go for it. Take a second to drop into your pelvis. Feel grounded in your energy there, like there’s a rope of light connecting you to the core of the earth. 

Step 2: Take a piece of paper and write the name of whoever you’re binding with your intention. For example, “I bind Trump from harming anyone.” If you work with sigils, you can do it out of the same phrase. Imagine your energy being projected into this paper. Believe what you are doing is making a difference. You have to plant the seeds of your intention in the spell.

Step 3: Asking your guides or the universe or God or whatever deities or beings you work with to stop, “Trump and his cabinet from harming anyone”, start folding up your piece of paper. Keep stating that you’re stopping him from working out of anything but the highest favor and good of all involved. Say what you need but be firm and intentional—you have to stand up for yourself when you work magick. Fold the paper as small as you can. 

Step 4: Once your paper is folded, get your red string and start wrapping it around the paper. As you do so, imagine your energy is like a lasso, holding Trump and his cabinet hostage, so they're unable to move. Keep wrapping, and say “I bind Trump, I bind Trump, I bind Trump from harming anyone.” As you wrap the string, keep imagining this energetic cord rendering Trump and all his cabinet useless. Ask the universe and all the cosmic, divine, godly bodies to physically stand in the way of the administration from harming you or anyone else. Wrap the thread until you feel finished or run out.

Step 5: Once you’re done, close your eyes and imagine a cone of light radiating from the crown of your head, projecting all your energy into the cosmos to absorb and use. Once you feel ready, drop back into the energy of your pelvis, feeling grounded. Open your eyes.  Optional: Press your forehead to the earth. 

Step 6: Bury your paper in the ground somewhere, infusing the earth with your intention. You can also burn the paper if you want or even flush it down the toilet.

It can be really tough to do magick right now, especially if you have mental health issues and live in this scary, uneasy, and vaguely dystopian political climate. You do not have to perform magick to be a witch. Drink water, eat food, take five deep breaths a day, take a bath with Epsom salt if you can. It is okay to not be casting a spell every Full Moon and reading your tarot every day. My friend Miranda loves clearing off her altar and very intentionally setting what she loves and wants to focus on back on. Be compassionate toward your progress. This spell is here if you need it, though; cutting toxic people out of your life isn’t lazy or selfish. No one has the right to your energy except you. 

Here’s to overthrowing the patriarchy together.