Tying the knot is a traditional binding for marriage.
Tying the knot is a traditional binding for marriage.

Binding rituals are an essential part of the many traditions found within paganism. Pagans believe these rituals tie practitioners to ritual tools, to each other, to the gods and to the groups to which they belong. In addition, pagans believe that performing these rituals enables people to take genuine responsibility for whoever or whatever they are binding themselves to and creates an official promise to take the relationship seriously.

Binding of Objects

The binding of objects for personal use is the simplest of the binding rituals. Practitioners take an object and present it to the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) and to one or several deities and asks this power to "accept" the binding. This type of binding ritual is used for altar tools such as the athame (a ceremonial dagger) or broom, and for personal jewelry worn in ritual. Pagans believe the ritual creates a relationship between the tool and the practitioner that enhances the practitioner's abilities when using the tool.

Binding of People

Another binding ritual practiced by many pagans is the binding of people -- usually in marriage or a similarly committed relationship. Traditionally, the binding of two people together is symbolized by tying a couple's hands together during a ceremony officiated by a priest or priestess. These bindings can be permanent, or only for specific time periods.

Binding to Deity

Some pagans perform binding rituals to promise themselves to a particular god or goddess. These sorts of bindings can be done singularly or in the group. In a sacred circle a promise can be made to a deity to work in their name. Pagans consider this to be a very serious type of binding and believe, epending on the deity involved, that this type of binding can have significant and long-lasting repercussions in a person's life.

Binding To a Group

When joining a coven or taking an initiation, some pagans require the novice to become bound to the group or to a specific tradition of witchcraft. The person joining is asked to make promises about keeping secrecy concerning what is taught to within the group or coven. During these bindings, a person is considered to have died and then been reborn as a initiate of the group, allowing the person to open him or herself to the mysteries of the particular group. The ritual also requires the group to promise in turn to teach and nurture that particular individual, giving aid whenever it is needed.