Last week we looked at an introduction to Hoodoo. One of the forms of magic in the practice involves using dolls. Popular misconception instead calls these figures ‘Voodoo dolls’, which is why I’m calling them that in this post.
But Voodoo dolls aren’t the only type of doll magic. Throughout history in Europe, practitioners have favoured the use of poppets. Put simply, a poppet is a doll-like figure. Used as a form of sympathetic magic, whatever happens to the doll, happens to the person.
Clearly, that doesn’t sound pleasant. People confused such a practice with black magic. The below image from the Wellcome Collection shows women giving wax dolls to the Devil himself.
During European harvest festivals, villagers created a corn doll, or Corn King, to represent the harvest bounty. The doll was slain. It represented the Corn King’s sacrifice to ensure a good harvest the following year.
Evidence exists that use of such figures dates back even further, to the reign of Ramses III. Some believe his enemies used wax images to speed his death.
In many ways, the creation of a doll links to the creation of a double. Do things to the double, instead of the person. But here’s the thing.
Voodoo dolls aren’t just used to hurt people.
According to the movies, people only make Voodoo dolls to harm others. Stick a pin in the doll’s hand, and the person feels the pain. Stardust (2007) featured the memorable scene in which Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) manipulated the dead body of Septimus (Mark Strong) using a clay figure of him.
But Voodoo dolls can be used for other reasons. You might wish to send a person good will, better health, or financial gains.
There are different ways to make the dolls. You might picture the person while you make a figure. Add something symbolic to make the connection more obvious. And tell the doll who it is that they represent.
You could always cheat and have the person’s image printed onto fabric. Use that as the start of your doll.
The more famous method involves using a piece of their clothing, a lock of hair, or even fingernail clippings within the doll.
Cleanse the doll before you use it. That might sound strange if you’ve made it from scratch. But the materials might retain previous energies or impressions. You can wash it in salt water or leave it out in sunlight/moonlight.
The easiest way to use Voodoo dolls is to hold the figure while focusing on your desired effect.
As we’re all nice people here (I hope), we’ll imagine you want to help someone get a job.
Focus on that person feeling confident, going to an interview, and shaking hands with their new employer. Really visualise it as you hold the doll. Put the doll away once you’re sure you’ve charged it with sufficient ‘good job luck’.
Then convince the person to apply for as many jobs as possible. No magical working can possibly do anything without actual action to back it up. Some believe this kind of magic only works in a psychosomatic way. Say your friend ends up getting a new job after you helped them with their application. There’s no way to know if it was your help or the doll that did it. But does it really matter?
What about the pins?
Some practitioners caution against using pins, even for positive workings. It makes sense. Love spells and sticking pins into dolls doesn’t seem like a logical connection.
But if you do want to use pins, they can be used for good as well as harm. Different parts of the body represent different areas of life. Likewise, different coloured pins symbolise different things. So you might put a yellow pin for success in the head to represent exam success.
According to Chance Mora, the colours are as follows;
Black: repelling negative energies
Original Botanica also cite the colours as being useful for the colour of the doll itself. Obviously, these can also be used to harm. But you shouldn’t do that. If you dislike someone that much, just cut them out of your life. I’m not saying that through a belief in Karma or anything like that. It’s just not worth your time to keep someone around who drains you.
But using Voodoo dolls doesn’t just end there.
You need to petition the loa, or Voodoo spirits, for their help.
Do your research to find the right one. There’s no point asking a loa who presides over romance for financial gains. You’ll also need to know what they’d like as a sacrifice.
Don’t worry. If you chose to petition Papa Legba, he’s fond of candy, cigars, and rum. His favourite number is 3, so you’d work in multiples of that number. If you don’t like the word ‘sacrifice’, consider it as a payment instead.
It goes without saying that you should only use one doll per person. Keep them stored safely – your intentions might be good but who knows what might happen if your claw-happy cat found one?
As with anything magical or occult-related, do your research beforehand. This post is simply an overview of the use of Voodoo dolls. Those in the Wiccan tradition may recognise much of the process, aside from the final loa petitions.
But tread lightly, and be respectful of forces much older and more powerful than you…
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