Sticking to the Doll

by M-Gillies

Some say Voodoo means "Spirit of God" and that it originated in Africa. It is estimated that Voodoo has over fifty million followers worldwide.

So, you’ve got a score to settle with that jerk who cut you off while you were driving to work this morning, or that person who snaps their gum, or even those people who are constantly texting while being partially involved in a conversation with you, here’s a solution. Why not make a nice little Voodoo doll of them and give them a few little pokes of a pin to vent some of your pent up frustration?

Is this even possible to work?

Voodoo dolls, made to represent a person for the act of casting spells or inflicting harm upon an individual, were often made of carved root, grain or corn shucks, fruit, paper, wax, clay, branches or cloth stuffed with herbs. These homemade figures were devised to appear as effigies of an individual with the intention of using sympathetic magic to affect the environment of or the people who’s likeness the dolls represented.

While the history of Voodoo dolls is one which incorporates multiple cultures and practices, in folk-magic, Europeans adorned their kitchens with dolls known as a kitchen witch. These homemade poppets resembling a witch or crone, and were hung for display in kitchens as a means to provide good luck and ward off bad spirits. Though the exact origins of how Voodoo dolls became associated with sympathetic magic vary, the folkloric traditions of Voodoo dolls can be associated to those of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s carved sculptures known as nkisi (power figure), which were containers of spiritual forces and a means of contacting the spirit realm and its powers.

While the practice of sticking pins into Voodoo dolls is heavily linked to New Orleans Voodoo and more appropriately to Hoodoo (folk magic), the Haitian religion (in which New Orleans Voodoo originated from) did not use their dolls for this means. Instead, Haitian practice saw the nailing of crude poppets with a discarded shoe on a tree near a cemetery as a means of communicating with the other world.

Since Voodoo dolls in New Orleans have been portrayed by popular media as a means of hexing an individual, the true intentions of Voodoo dolls are meant more as a focusing tool in ritual and meditation. So while you may feel the urge to create a Voodoo doll to represent a specific person, there are still strong psychological components to sticking a pin in a Voodoo doll, and in one sense could be therapeutic in creating a self-fulfilling desire.

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