Fire Lyte has a great article examining the application of magical force using the force continuum employed by many police departments as a guideline:
I suppose my answer to folks that are curious about when it is time to take magical recourse for a situation is to examine their own Force Continuum. Let’s use a situation a lot of people face: a crappy boss. Your boss treats you poorly, verging on abusive. They devalue your contributions, they make crass statements you find offensive, and generally fly off the handle when things don’t go his way. Before you decide to hex him 7 ways from Sunday, examine the Force Continuum. (Don’t you just love saying that phrase?)
- Presence – Have you been present at your job? Not just showing up for work. A police officer stands with authority, makes a Presence (not presence), and generally gives off an air of responsibility and action. Have you been making sure your presence is positive and that your own actions reflect the desire to resolve conflict?
- Verbal – Have you spoken to your boss? Have you talked to someone in HR or written a letter stating how you feel the work environment has changed for the negative? Did you use calming, supportive, positive language to attempt a resolution? Or, rather, did you make snide comments behind your boss’ back, gripe about how much you hate this job, and all around stoop to their level. (Literally, in this case, stooping to their level of action on the continuum.)
- Non-Lethal Magic – Have you done the equivalent of the Chemical or Electric methods? Have you attempted to magically keep him away from you? Did you attempt to resolve the situation with keeping him at bay so you could work in peace and continue getting your steady paycheck?
- Restraint – Here is where the mundane and magical worlds begin to differ. You can choose to bind someone after attempting to keep him or her at bay. But, I have to wonder what is tying you to a job with someone making you want to bind him, or worse. Mundanely, one could transfer departments or simply – though simply is not an adequate term in this economy – quit the job. Your mental health and happiness is far more important than a job.
- “Lethal” Magic – If all else fails, and this isn’t a situation that can possibly be resolved with a mundane method, and you have honestly tried to calm the situation down, THEN, and only then, should you head for the back of your Book of Shadows and open the “7 Ways from Sunday” Hex.
My biggest issue here is that in terms of force and consequences, I don’t see an effective difference between a binding and a full-fledged curse. Other than that, I’m rather impressed with this concept, and it fits very nicely in line with my own idea of magical ethics: don’t use magic to do anything you wouldn’t do through other means.