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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sympathetic Magick and the Use of Dolls

When it comes to using Doll-Babies in magick, most people are familiar with the stereotypical image of the "Voodoo" doll stuck full of pins to cause suffering and grief for one's enemies. Historically, various types of dolls were used to gain love, empower individuals, bring about healing, and secure prosperity in addition to punishing one's enemies and staving off rivals.

Sympathetic Magick

The process of manipulating images to effect their physical counterparts is believe to have originated in paleolithic times. Although no dolls from this period in history have been recovered, it has been theorized that cave paintings depicting successful hunts were actually a form of magick, which forms the basis for many spells and rituals, called Sympathetic Magick.

Sympathetic Magick works on the principle that ‘invisible bonds connect all things’. Sympathetic Magick can be divided into two categories, Homeopathic Magick and Contagious Magick. The Scottish anthropologist Sir James G. Frazer first described these types in his book The Golden Bough (1890).

* Homeopathic Magick holds that “like attracts like.” A classic example of this type of magick is the melting of a waxen image of an enemy resulting in his or her death. Visualization is a form of sympathetic magick, instead of creating a physical image of your goal, you are create a mental one. Many taboos come from homeopathic magic. People avoid certain harmless things because they resemble various harmful things. Among the Inuit (Eskimos), for example, parents have traditionally warned their sons against playing a string game, such as cat's cradle, in which children loop string around their fingers. They feared that playing such games might cause their fingers to become tangled in the harpoon lines they will use as adults.

* Contagious Magick holds that “things once in contact with one another continue to exert an influence on one another after they have been separated.” An example of Contagious Magick from a folk magick remedy to cure a wound would be to rub some medicine on the object which caused the wound in the first place. People who believe in contagious magic fear that an enemy can gain power over them by obtaining parts of their body. Therefore, they carefully dispose of their nails, hair, teeth, and even their body wastes. 

Historical Use of Dolls in the Practice of Magick

The use of dolls in the practice of magick can be found in cultures the world over. Some examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Wax-Dolls (effigies) were known to have been used against Pharoah Ramses III of ancient Egypt in a plot by one of his many wives in an attempt to kill him so that her son would become the new Pharoah.
  • In 1320 Galeazzo Visconti, the Duke of Milan, was accused of attempting to murder Pope John VIII with a wax doll.
  • European royalty were known to make use of wax dolls to punish, torture, and kill rivals. Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821), the Princess of Wales, was known to have made use of a wax doll of her husband, the future King George IV, which she jabbed with pins.
  • The Greeks made use of dolls (kolossi) made out of wax, clay, or even metal. The personal concerns of the person the doll was intended to represent were often incorporated into the body of the doll along with spells written on paper. Parts of the doll's body were tortured, deformed, and even removed, in an effort to bind and protect.
  • European witches often made Poppets, an older spelling of puppet, from sewing together two pieces of human shaped cloth and stuffing it with dried grass, herbs, feathers, etc....
  • In Colonial times, witches often made use of human shaped dolls formed from bread dough, dollies manufactured from corn husks (called corn-dollies), effigies made from wax, and poppets.
  • Among West Africans a type of doll called a bocchio, or fetish, can be found. A fetish is often carved from wood and will often have a hollow spot in which additional items such as herbs, roots, bones, etc.. can be placed. Unlike previously mentioned dolls which typically represent a human being, these fetishes represented Gods or Spirits. When slaves where brought to America, the use and possession of a fetish was forbidden. The bocchio then began being made in the form of Poppets which could be explained away as a child's toy.
  • Similar to bocchio, Hopi Indians make use of Kachina Dolls, which represent figures from Hopi Mythology. Although they are not used to represent people, they are petitioned for various needs such as protection and healing.
  • In the spiritual practice of espiritismo, practitioners will often alter a store bought doll, bathe it in herbs to cleanse the doll and perform rituals to entice their spirit guardian into the doll. From then on they will venerate that spirit the doll as the physical presence of the spirit in the physical world. It will often be petitioned for love, protection, health, success, etc.. and given offerings in return for its blessings.
  • In the practice of Hoodoo, modern practitioners often make use of store-bought Barbie © dolls, called doll-babies, which they often alter and consecrate to represent a specific individual. In addition, dolls in the form of poppets, or waxen effigies may also be used.

How Dolls are Used in Magick

Dolls are often sewn to represent the person as much as possible and items such as herbs, curios, seals, etc... which correspond to your intent may be incorporated into its body. The doll will often contain the personal concerns of the individual the doll is intended to represent. However, the doll may also be sewn from clothing once worn by the individual. Examples of personal concerns include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Bodily Fluids
  • Hair/Nail Clippings
  • Used Clothing
  • Dirt lifted from the Person's Footprint
  • Handwriting Sample
  • A Photograph

Once the doll is constructed it is ritually named for the person that it is intended to represent. Naming rituals can take many forms including a Christian baptism, or exposing the doll to the four elements blessing the doll in the name of the individual.

The naming-ritual is believed to forge the magickal bond between the doll and the individual. Thereafter the doll is considered to be that individual. Spells and rites are performed with the doll to bring about your goal. That which you wish to occur to the individual is symbolically enacted upon the doll.

An Easy Protection Ritual That You Can Perform

First, take a clean white hankerchief and soak it in spring water to which you have added half a cup of kosher-salt. Let the hankerchief soak in this salted water overnight, during a Full Moon.

The following day, gently ring out the hankerchief (but don't completely dry it this way) and place it outside where it will dry in the clean air and sunshine. When the hankerchief is completely dry, take a poppet that represent yourself and wrap it in this handkerchief.

Once you have the doll wrapped in the handkerchief, place it somewhere where it shall remain safe. If you choose, you can enhance this ritual by the lighting of candles, incense, chanting, prayers, etc...but this is not required. Symbolically, you have surrounded yourself with a "white-light" of protection, which you can call upon at any time, simply by visualizing yourself being bathed in this white light to recharge yourself, reduce stress, or strengthen your sense of security. 

Carolina Dean 

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