Saturday, May 14, 2011

Samedi: Magick Dolls

We talked about crossroads last Saturday, and how they are considered in many cultures to be a gateway or threshold to the spirit world.  At crossroads, in cemeteries, near large bodies of water, we can talk to the spirits and ask them to help us with our urgent needs.

Communicating with those spirits is not always as easy as it sounds but Haitian Voudon and American hoodoo have “work arounds” for getting the spirits’ attention.  If they won’t come to you, in dreams or through other signs, you can always go to them.  Figuratively speaking, at least.  And this is often done by employing a doll.

The so called “voodoo doll” is thought of in popular culture as a way to harm an enemy.  Make the doll, put something from the enemy in it or on it to form a connection, and then stab, shred or burn it to wreak mental and physical anguish.  This type of magick, though grimly fatiguing and usually disappointing for all involved, is very real but it is not specific to much less invented by the religion of Voudon.  Poppet magick, as it is known in Wiccan practice, is an ancient European practice.  It can certainly be used to harm but it is more frequently used to heal.

Dolls of natural materials, cloth, ribbon, string and a host of other goodies are a common component of hoodoo, but in Voudon proper – and in hoodoo as well – it is the “messenger doll” that is employed.  These are hand made of cloth by the practitioner or a priest or priestess and used for contacting the lwa in order to ask for the spirit’s help with a situation that is in their realm of expertise. 

Once the problem has been identified and the person has decided on what lwa they will petition for help, materials for making the doll will be gathered.  Generally these dolls are small, no larger than a man’s hand, and they are only roughly in the form of a human figure.  The dolls are usually made of either black or white cloth, but string or ribbon in specific colors that are pleasing to the lwa being petitioned is also necessary.

The doll is preferably stuffed with something natural (Spanish moss, for instance, is a favorite stuffing in New Orleans voodoo and Southern hoodoo) and sewn closed.  Then the petitioner will write their request on a small piece of brown paper, addressing their chosen lwa specifically and reverently.  The paper is folded up and pinned to the doll.  Then the ribbon or sting is wrapped around the doll and the paper and tied in a knot (for male lwa or for Erzulie Danto) or a bow (for all other female lwa). 

Now that the doll is ready, the petitioner will take it to a crossroads or a cemetery and leave it there for the lwa to find.  On rare occasions the doll may be dropped in running water.  If the ritual is done correctly, and the lwa are inclined to the plea, the situation will be rectified usually within a few days.  It helps quite a bit to include an offering appropriate to the spirit – a silver dime, a piece of candy, a string of beads and so on – with the doll.

As is so often true of any cure for illness or affliction, the simplest remedy is often the best.  Messenger dolls are easy to make and straight forward to use.  Just be sure to research your spirit, and know who you are dealing with, before you begin.  Bonne chance ~

Header: Voodoo doll via Squidoo


Timmy! said...

I like that the doll at the header is holding a doll (which is also holding a doll, I think?) Pauline. That's pretty cool.

Pauline said...

Yep; both of them have a little doll, which is just darling.

Capt. John Swallow said...

Just read this post...thought ye might like to have a look at the work o' the QM's alter-ego; Missus Mooney ;]

Pauline said...

They're just darling. Definately saving that and would love to do a little write-up on them here as well in conjunction with the season of giving. Thanks so much for the link.