Binding a spirit can be rather different from binding a person. When binding a person, you are typically binding a representation of that person and you are generally binding them from a specific action.
With spirits, you may not be binding a substitute. Instead, it may be more effective to bind the spirit itself. You’re also not binding them from an action, you’re essentially binding them to an object to contain them so that the spirit can be dealt with safely. This is best for use with spirits that are causing trouble but are not actively malicious. Confused spirits can be quite damaging but you don’t necessarily want to hurt them, you just want to get them somewhere safe until you can properly help them or get them to someone who can.
Spirit binding is a way of achieving this without harming the spirit (if the binding is done properly). The spirit will not be happy about being bound but it should not be hurt by this action.
It’s important to note, malicious spirits that are bound are a ticking time bomb. You cannot let them go because they will wreak havoc but if you keep them indefinitely they will eventually get out, either by your hand or another’s. Because of this, I do NOT suggest binding such spirits unless you know exactly how you want to handle them after they’re bound.
For all other spirits, you must choose an appropriate vessel. Specially made containers with sigils or spells worked on them can function nicely, as can some crystals. Using crystals is tricky though! Trapping a spirit within the wrong kind of crystal can be excruciating for the spirit so you MUST use the correct kind. The best crystal to use is Vogel cut quartz, the quartz must be clear and it should be as free of internal impurities and disturbances as possible. If such a crystal is not available, opt for the clearest and most imperfection free quartz you can. Do not use anything other than clear quartz! The more imperfections there are in the crystal, the less time you will have to help the spirit as it will become agitated and angry and attempt to escape. Boxes, jars, and figurines that have been prepared to house spirits are preferable when no suitable crystal is available.
Spirit containers take a lot of time and effort to make. To begin I’ll just say that while you can make generic vessels to contain any spirit you throw in it, they work much better when they’re specifically made for the spirit intended to be kept in them. So while it is possible to have a vessel ready to go just in case I wouldn’t use that long term.
Also, how you adjust the vessel for the specific needs related to the spirit will vary hugely. This can be highly complex and individualized spellwork. If you feel out of your depth, find someone more experienced to help. Spirit binding is quite tricky and I wouldn’t recommend toying with it if you’re unsure that you can handle it alone.
All of that aside, the first step in actually creating your vessel is choosing a container. Personally, I prefer nice, sturdy wooden boxes. You could use anything though, I know jars are popular among witchy people, you could use a cloth bag or a vacuumed canister or even small figurines if that’s what’s available to you. The important thing about picking your container is that it has to be enclosed. Boxes need tops, bowls don’t work, and drawstring bags won’t do it either. The second consideration is that it needs to be opaque. If you can see inside the vessel then it isn’t going to work as well at keeping the curse in. If you use something like a jar that is made of glass you’ll need to paint it. After this, all you really need to worry about is the size of the container.
Start by physically cleaning your box followed by spiritually cleansing it. For more information on that refer to the Defensive Magic level 1 course. After it’s nice and neutral and ready to work on, you can make it look how you would like.
Personally, I like my spirit boxes to be black and I like the insides to be padded (I don’t like a rattling reminder of the spirit inside if the box gets jostled, I find that dwelling overly on the spirit in the box can weaken the box and cause “leaks” that could let the spirit out, this is also the reason for using opaque containers). Paint your box however you would like. I generally try to keep the initial painting and other appearance-related things pretty simple, we’ll be using sigils on the box and cluttering the box right at the start can make further work difficult.
Now it’s time to create your sigils, I use sigils in my binding magic because they’re effective, they last ages without wavering and symbols have always felt powerful for me. You do not have to use this method! Your box could have an incantation or a picture of a lock painted on it and if that’s what resonates with you then that’s what will work. You can use one, as on the above box or two or more if they’re all designed to work together. It’s a good idea to get a bit of practice making and activating sigils before you actually make a vessel.
You’ll need your box, all prepped and ready to go, some paint (I like white), your sigil design, and your desired altar/workspace trappings (candles, incense, figures, elements, etc).
I like to sit and meditate and build up some energy first, fill in whatever works for you as prep here; breathing exercises, meditations, calling your guides or the deities you work with and grounding are all good ideas. Next paint on your sigil(s) and any other markings. I often use white stripes on the front of my boxes to act as a seal, a sort of figurative lock for my box.
Now it’s time to activate your sigil, this is the time to invoke your gods, chant your power words or phrases and generally throw your mojo into it. More info about activating sigils can be found at the previous link about making sigils.
After activating these particular types of sigils you may notice that the box feels odd energetically. Mine take on a bit of a “negative space” feeling, instead of the normal give and take energy flow of typical objects, my boxes do not give off energy, it’s like an energetic blind spot. That is exactly what you want! That means that the box is shielding the energy inside of it. The “negative space” feeling is likely to intensify when the spirit is inside the vessel.
After activation, you can follow with any blessings, prayers or incantations that feel appropriate to you and then close your circle. Viola! You have a spirit box. I like to let my paint dry and then I charge the sigils by leaving them out under a dark moon before actually using the box to contain a spirit.
In order to bind the spirit, I would recommend opening a circle intended to allow the spirit in but not let it back out. You can call or summon the spirit with a spell or you can go to the spirits usual haunt to deal with it there. If it’s attached to a person they will need to be present for the spell.
Once you have the spirit in attendance, open your spirit container in the direction of the spirit and feel it energetically “pull” the spirit into the container. You MUST be careful to direct your intention correctly with this method as errant spirits (guides, spirits friends, etc) can also become trapped in the box. When you feel the spirit has been fully sucked into the box, close it and if you wish, lock it.
This is a temporary solution! A spirit left in this state indefinitely will become horribly angry and will eventually find a way out. I would suggest using this method only if you have a plan for how to rehabilitate or help the spirit after you have bound it.