Other Religions Paganism and Wicca Using Magical Poppets and Dolls Share Flipboard Email Print You're the only one who can decide what's ethically acceptable for you. Michelle Constantini/Getty Images Paganism and Wicca Wicca Traditions Basics Rituals and Ceremonies Sabbats and Holidays Wicca Gods Herbalism Wicca Resources for Parents By Patti Wigington Paganism Expert B.A., History, Ohio University Patti Wigington is a pagan author, educator, and licensed clergy. She is the author of Daily Spellbook for the Good Witch, Wicca Practical Magic and The Daily Spell Journal. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Patti Wigington Updated January 05, 2019 The magical poppet is one of the most commonly used implements in sympathetic magic, which follows along on the theory that “like creates like.” Although TV shows and movies typically show poppets as the stereotypical "voodoo doll," poppets have been around for a long time, and used in a number of different cultures and religious belief systems. There are many ways to create a poppet, and they can be used to harm or to heal; if you create a poppet of a person, anything done to the poppet will affect the person it represents. Bear in mind that some magical traditions discourage the use of poppets. If you're not sure whether or not it's okay for you to use poppet magic, you may want to check with someone in your tradition. A poppet is usually made from cloth or fabric, but you can also make one from clay, wax, wood, or just about any other material. You can fill your poppet with herbs, stones, bits of wood, paper, or anything else that suits your needs. In addition to magical items, it's a good idea to include some cotton or polyfill as stuffing material. Once the poppet is created, you'll need to connect it to the person it represents, which is typically done by using a magical link of some sort. Remember, the poppet is a useful magical tool, and can be used in a variety of workings. Use it for healing, to banish harmful people from your life, to bring abundance your way — the choices are practically limitless. Poppet History Fetish dolls on sale at a market in Togo. Danita Delimont/Getty Images When most people think of a poppet, they automatically think of the Voodoo doll, thanks to this item's negative portrayal in movies and on television. However, the use of dolls in sympathetic magic goes back several millennia. Back in the days of ancient Egypt, the enemies of Ramses III (who were numerous, and included some of his harem women and at least one high-ranking official) used wax images of the Pharaoh, to bring about his death. Let's look at some of the historical uses of poppets in spellwork. Greek Kolossi It wasn't uncommon for the Greeks to use sympathetic magic in workings related to love or war. Christopher Faraone, Professor of Classical Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago, is one of the foremost authorities on Greek magic today, and says that Greek poppets called Kolossoi were sometimes used to restrain a ghost or even a dangerous deity, or to bind two lovers together. In Idyll 2, The Witch (Pharmakeutria), written about 200 b.c.e., the tragedian Theocritus refers to melting and burning wax dolls. He relates the tale of Simaetha, rejected by Delphis, attempts to get her lover back with magic. The Princess Who Played with Dolls Wax dolls certainly weren't limited to the ancient classical world. The one-time Princess of Wales, Caroline of Brunswick, was married to the man who later became King George IV, and evidently couldn't stand him. She spent many hours forming wax dolls of her husband and jabbing them with pins. Although there's no concrete evidence as to what this may have done to George, when Caroline ran off to Italy with her young lover, George didn't object. The royal couple remained married but lived separately until Caroline’s death in 1821, according to Witchcraft and Evidence in Early Modern England by Malcolm Gaskill. West African Fetish Magic West African slaves brought with them a doll called a fetish when they were forced to leave their homes and come to the American colonies. In this case, the doll is not so much representative of an individual, but is in fact possessed by spirits connected to the doll’s owner. A fetish contains significant power and is typically worn or carried by its owner as a talisman. During America's Colonial period, slave owners were allowed to kill any slave found with a fetish in his possession. American Hoodoo and Folk Magic In American Hoodoo and folk magic, the use of poppets as a magical tool became popular following the Civil War. There is some dispute as to whether the dolls are used at all in Haiti, which is the home of Vodoun religion, and a few sources disagree on whether the use of poppets is truly a Vodoun practice or not. However, the Voodoo Museum of New Orleans does stock a variety of dolls in their gift shop. Regardless of how you make your poppet — out of cloth, a chunk of meat, or a glob of wax, remember that poppets have a long tradition behind them, and that tradition is influenced by the magical practices of a wide range of cultures. Treat your poppets well, and they will do the same for you! Make Your Own Poppet Photomorgana/Getty Images A poppet can be as simple or as elaborate as you like — it all depends on how much time and effort you want to put into it. You can construct one out of just about any material — cloth, clay, wood, wax. Use your imagination! In some magical traditions, it's believed that the more work you put into it, and the more complex it is, the stronger your link will be to your goal. Because a poppet is a device for sympathetic magic, all of its components will be symbols of what it is you hope to achieve. You can do your poppet-making as part of the working itself, or it can be made ahead of time so you can use the poppet later on. Which method you choose is really up to you. Remember, your poppet represents a person, so figure out before you begin who it symbolizes. Is it you? A friend who's asked you for help? An un-named lover you want to bring into your life? A gossip you want to shut up? The possibilities are endless, but just like in any spell working, you'll need to set a goal before you begin. It keeps you from having to deal with "do-overs" later. These instructions are for a basic poppet construction, using fabric. Feel free to modify your design as you need to. Selecting Your Fabric There are no real rules when it comes to choosing your material, but it's not a bad idea to select fabric based on your goal. If you're doing a money spell, use a piece of green or gold cloth. If you're looking at healing, perhaps something in a soft blue or silver would be best. Check out fabric stores around the holidays, and you can find all kinds of neat patterns. Valentine's Day designs are perfect for matters of the heart, and there are plenty of prints with dollar signs, coins, stars and moons, and other fun designs. Another option is to use fabric that links the poppet to the person it represents. Doing a healing spell for a friend? Ask the person for an old t-shirt. If you're trying to draw love into your life, consider using a scrap from that sexy lingerie you wore last night. If you just can't find the right material, use a plain muslin or white felt. Here are a few ideas for designs and colors for poppet magic. Animals: Brown or green fabrics, patterns with cats or dogs, anything pet-relatedBanishing: Black fabric, designs such as swords or wands, dragons or fireCreativity: Orange or yellow fabric, prints of suns or other fire symbolsHealing: Silver, white or blue, with designs of clouds or other air symbolsLove: Pink or red material, designs like hearts, roses or other flowers, CupidsMoney: Silver, gold or green fabric, or designs of dollar bills or coins, cups or earthy symbolsProtection: Red or white material, with patterns of shields, keys or locks, fences, mistletoe When it comes to types of fabric, use what's easiest for you to work with. Cotton prints are easy to sew, but if you've never used a needle and thread before, you might want to try something stiffer like felt — it comes in every color you can imagine, and will hold its shape as you sew. If you're an experienced sewer, use anything you like. A poppet represents a person, so ideally it should look (sort of) like a person. Give it a head, two arms, two legs, a torso. You can make your own outline or you can use the ultimate poppet pattern — a gingerbread man. If you're doing a spell for an animal — such as a healing spell for a sick pet — make the poppet shape accordingly. Your poppet doesn't have to be huge, but it should be big enough that you can stuff it with your ingredients later. Take two pieces of your fabric, and place them right side together on a flat surface. Place the pattern on top, pin it in place, and cut it out. Leave a little room around the edges for a seam allowance — usually a 3/8" margin is good. Remove the pattern, and there are your two poppet shapes. Time to start sewing! If you've never sewn anything by hand before, don't panic. It's not hard, but it does require some patience. You could always use a sewing machine if you're pressed for time, but most experienced poppet-makers agree that it's worth the effort to do it by hand. Pin the two pieces of material with the right sides together, and stitch around the edges. Leave an opening somewhere, wide enough to stick a couple of fingers in. Turn the poppet inside out, and begin stuffing. Personalize Your Poppet Fill your poppet with something soft, like polyfill or cotton balls. Old pantyhose work nicely too. Work the stuffing all the way into the nooks and crannies of the arms and legs, and then fill the torso and head. This is where you'll place your spell components — herbs, stones, whatever. In some magical traditions, something from the person represented goes inside the poppet. This is alternately referred to as a taglock or a magical link — it can be bits of hair, nail clippings, body fluids, a business card, or even a photograph. Once everything is inside, sew the poppet completely shut. The more you can customize your poppet, the better. Even if you've placed a magical link, or taglock, inside, you'll want to decorate the outside too. Draw or paint or sew a face onto your doll. Add yard or string for hair. Dress your poppet in something that looks like the person's clothing. Copy any tattoos, scars, or distinguishing features onto the poppet as well. Add magical or astrological symbols if you like. While you're doing this, tell the poppet who it represents. You can say something along the lines of, "I have made you, and you are Jane Jones." Your poppet can be used for any number of things—love, money, protection, healing, to get a job. Anything you can imagine, you can make a poppet to bring it about. Simply figure out your goal and the means to achieve it. The only limits on poppet construction are your own creativity and imagination. 6 Easy Poppet Projects Make protective poppets for each member of your family with modeling clay. amanaimagesRF/Getty Images Not sure what sort of poppets to create, or how you can use them in a practical application? Try one of these six easy ideas for making and using your own poppets. 1. To Get a Job You've Applied For Material: satin, green or gold or silverHerbs: clover, chamomile, ginger, cinnamonGemstones: snowflake obsidian or sodalite Create a poppet to represent yourself. As you make it, focus on the positive attributes that you possess which will make you appealing to a potential employer. Another option is to create the poppet in the image of the employer (include business cards or letterhead inside, if you can get them) and tell the employer poppet why you're the best person for the job. 2. To Protect Your Family Material: Modeling clayHerbs: Basil, patchouli, coffeeGemstones: Hematite, amethyst, black onyx. Create poppets that represent each member of the family, blending herbs and stones into the clay. Put them in a safe place in your home, such as near your hearth, and utilize magical shielding or cast a circle of protection around them. This is actually a fun project you can get your kids involved in as well — let them each make their own poppet person! 3. To Heal a Sick Person Material: White cotton or unbleached muslinHerbs: Lemon balm, feverfew, ivy, and pine.Gemstones: Bloodstone, turquoise When you make this poppet, be sure to indicate what you are trying to heal, whether it's a case of tennis elbow, a chronic infection, or even a broken heart. Focus all of your energy on the ailment in question. 4. To Bring Love Into Your Life Material: Red or pink silk or cottonHerbs: Rose petals, parsley, and peppermintGemstones: Barite, jade, rose quartz Make a poppet to represent the object of your affection — remember that in some magical traditions it is frowned upon to make a specific person the target of your working. If you are simply trying to attract love to yourself, but you don’t have a specific person in mind, focus on all the desirable qualities you want to see in a potential lover. 5. Silencing a Gossip Material: Ground beef or other squishy meatHerbs: Horseradish, pepper, rue, yarrow, valerian Shape the meat and herbs into a person, and create a "meat puppet" in the same way you'd make a fabric one. As you make the doll, tell it that it's time to be silent, and tell no more gossipy stories. Remind it that people who can't say nice things shouldn't say anything at all. Dispose of the doll by either burning it on your grill and burying it someplace far away, feeding it to your dog, or leaving it out in the sun to rot. 6. Emergency Poppet on the Fly Material: Aluminum foil Perhaps something has come up in a hurry, and you feel it needs immediate magical attention. Use a piece of aluminum foil to whip together a quickie poppet — shape it into the figure of a person. Fill with any magical components that might be handy — bits of wood, dirt, grass, even a name scribbled on a piece of paper — and personalize the poppet. Need additional poppetry ideas? Try making a magical gingerbread poppet, or put together a portable poppets kit to keep in your magical arsenal!