Spirit Dolls can be made out of virtually any material such as cloth, paper, plastic, wood, etc… and come in an array of shapes and sizes. Some people have been known to purchase pre-made dolls sold as toys such as Ken and Barbie © and embellish them with paint, clothes, glitter, bead-work, etc…; in some cases their heads and/or limbs may be removed and used to make an entirely new doll. In other cases, Spirit Dolls can be made entirely from scratch in the same manner as a poppet or Voodoo Doll.
Often spirit dolls are made and then a ritual is performed to invite a spirit to take up residence in the doll. Rituals vary but usually consist of burning candles and incense/herbs as well as making offerings to entice the spirit into the doll. Prayers are often offered up to the Godhead (or a powerful spirit known for assigning familiars). When the spirit enters the doll, the worker will often make a compact with his or her new helper. They will make certain promises to never hurt or abuse the doll, as well as to make certain offerings and in return the doll will promise to assist the worker in his or her magical endeavors.
In my experience with Spirit Dolls, I make contact with the spirit beforehand at my altar. The spirit will communicate with me through dreams, divination, and signs telling me what kind of body they desire, its coloring, hairstyle, the style/color of its clothes, and what embellishments it would like (jewelry, beadwork, etc..). The spirit will also reveal its name to me. While sewing the doll, I will focus on the doll’s name and visualize the body that it has asked me to create for him or her.
As I work on it, the doll will often give me more insight into his or her background and personality. Sometimes it may make a special request that certain items be included in its stuffing, for example, one doll requested that I place a small amount of soil from near my home inside its body. In addition, I always include a sigil of the spirit’s name in the body of each doll. Once the doll has been completed, I activate it in a ritual ceremony whereupon it is cleansed with burning incense, the spirit is invited into the doll, and then ritually baptized with Holy Water and anointed with Blessed Oil.
Once the spirit is attached to the doll, the process of bonding begins. I often keep my dolls near me the first few weeks. They sit with me while I am watching television, they will be next to me while I am at the computer, they will watch me cook in the kitchen, and they will sleep on a pillow beside me at night. I often talk to my dolls as if they were a flesh-and-blood individual and they will talk back. Spirit Dolls will communicate to you in various ways. They may enter your dreams, they may speak through your intuition, you may hear them with your physical ears, or they may place strong signs in your path, they may even speak to you through your divination tool.
Everyone has their own way of working with the dolls. I have heard one worker say to rub its chest or belly and look the doll in the eyes while making your special request or communicating your need. This process can be enhanced by the burning of candles or incense, playing mood music, etc…
Typically I will write my desire on a small piece of paper and pin it to the doll requesting him or her to bring about my desire. Remember they are vessels for spirits with which you work and should be treated respectfully, therefore I am always sure to pin the request to the doll’s clothing and NOT through its body. I will also keep the doll near any candles or other workings for the same purpose. In cases when I desire something such as a new car, I would pin a photograph of the type of car I desired and ask him or her to bring it to me. If the spirit is to effect a specific person I may also pin that person' photograph to the doll along with personal concerns, business card, handwriting, etc...
In my experience, some dolls are for general use while others have their own specialties (love, protection, money-drawing, etc…) Sometimes they will not do any work for you in a certain instance, but will give you advice on how to do things for yourself. For example, you may ask your doll to help you pay your bills and the doll will instruct you to ask your boss for overtime or to simply tell your boss that you are available to work over if you are needed. You may then find that you do earn extra money this way. The doll may give you a winning lottery number, or give you investment advice. In other instances you may meet someone that you like and your doll will tell you that that person is no good for you.
In some cases the doll will teach you more about your craft. I have had dolls tell me how to work spells in ways that I would never have thought. I’ve had dolls recommend specific herbs, candles, oils, incense, etc… for various situations and instructed me how to use them. I’ve had dolls tell me the future, take me on astral journeys, call out the names of my enemies, and shield me from magical attacks.
Now with that being said, it is very important to remember that your Spirit doll is a helper, it is not a slave and it is not a genie. Just like we require certain things to operate in this world, they need certain things as well. It is important to treat them with respect, and show your gratitude for their assistance by making regular offering to them. Offerings vary from doll to doll but can consist of candles, incense, candies, powdered herbs, liquor, water, etc…the doll will often communicate to you any special offerings that it favors.
Sometimes you will work with a doll for many, many years, in other instances a doll will only work with you for a certain amount of time having the belief that it has nothing more to teach you or offer you. The spirit may leave the vessel and move on to another worker, or you may even be directed to give the doll to another individual. In some cases when the spirit departs, the doll will disappear as well or it may simply exit the vessel leaving the doll behind as a keepsake.
Working with Spirit Dolls requires a genuine commitment on your part. If you do right by your doll it will do right by you as well. However, if you abuse the doll or fail to live up to your promises, it will not work for you and may even leave you.
The Modern Pagan
Spirit Tree (YouTube Channel)
How to Make a Quick and Easy No Sew Doll for Magic
Pattern for a Poppet 1
Pattern for a Poppet 2