Magickal Dolls, sometimes known as “poppets”, “doll babies”, tobies, and the infamous “hoodoo” or “voodoo” dolls, are a class of tangible magic work that is intended for a target or a particular person. This person can love alone or with others, and the magic will not affect anyone for whom the doll is not named. Such dolls are hundreds of years old in traditional Southern style root magic, and are used to coerce, bind and even curse the person for whom the doll has been named or ‘baptized’.
There are many reasons for using this type of magic. A woman might want her man to stop running around, or a person might want someone to move on with their life and in essence, ‘grow up’ into adulthood. Some may want the doll baby, or poppet, to cause troubles for the person. Some toby dolls are meant to bind or “tie them down”.
You can personalize the doll with items that ideally come from the person, but in a pinch, the least you can do to personalize the poppet is to glue or sew a photograph of the person onto the front face area of the doll. It is best however, to have a strand of hair, a used cigarette butt, soiled napkin, used underwear or T shirt, or something that has their body odor, fluids, saliva or DNA on it. In a certain cases, obtaining this is not able to be done, so I suggest that for these types of spells, a business card, name and birthdate or anything the person has owned or touched might have to be used.
In cases of love and personal matters, I would suggest a pink or red doll, as these two colors represent romance and passion, respectively. If you are dealing with a young person, as in the “grow up and embrace adulthood” spell, use pink, as you are doing the spell with loving, caring thoughts of this young person blossoming into their own person to leave the home and become a successful, independent person. I would also use pink in the very early stages of love, only to maybe add a red heart to the doll or a swatch of red on the lower extremities when you want to become intimate. Red felt dolls are exclusively used for the sexual part of the relationship, however, red doll in matters of money will become “Fast Luck” poppets, activated to bring in money fast.
Following the natural meaning of colors in traditional Southern conjure and hoodoo, using blue will bring peace and harmony, white for spirituality and blessings. Gold or yellow denotes success, and green is used for money matters. Brown is for court case matters and black is for banishing or cursing.
I use black felt poppet dolls stuffed with Spanish Moss in the ritual for the Banishing Negativity Burn every New Years’ Eve. Tradition teaches us that to remove someone’s negative influence, you need to burn it off, so we ‘name’ the poppet/doll with the name of the person giving your grief, and then we burn it, saying, “You do not have any hold or control over me any longer”. Here is a shot of the poppets/dolls being made right now for this year’s Banishing Burn:
Items and materials used for dolls vary among areas of the country and belief background. Some use two chicken bones in a form of a cross as the torso and arms extended before wrapping moss, herbs and fabric around the bones. Some will use two sticks in this same manner or even a large Mandrake root, making sure there are two good side roots to utilize as arms. Other conjurers use plastic dolls with cherubic or ‘kewpie doll’ faces, stuffed with roots and herbs once the head has been removed. Some use Barbie and Ken dolls and other use the wax figurine candles found at most botanicas or candle shops specific to magic. Here are some images of different kinds of dolls:
Dolls are also sometimes left to magickally influence someone, as in when you want an unruly or boisterous child to act accordingly or ‘behave’. Some would purchase a doll baby at the toy store, remove the clothing and head of the doll, insert controlling herbs and petitions, attach the head, wash the doll clothing in a solution of Controlling or Commanding Bath Crystals and let dry, iron the clothing and re-dress the doll before giving it to the child as a gift.
Poppets can be used when you want to ‘bind’ someone, if the person allegedly has been working magic against you. You fashion a doll to your liking using an article of their clothing, such as a portion of their shirt with sweat or body odor from under the arms. Insert either a Mandrake root, sticks or chicken bones under the cloth to form the structure pieces for the torso and arms. Wrap Spanish Moss and other jinxing herbs around the structure pieces, covering it with the piece of clothing. Wrap all of this with black embroidery thread or yarn. Make sure the hands are tied together, like the doll is handcuffed, and make a tiny blindfold to cover the area of the eyes. Baptize this doll in the name of your tormentor and keep this ‘bound up’ doll in a dark place, like a garage cabinet or closet, so that they cannot see what you are doing and cannot work magic against you. You can also string the doll up in a top of a tree with good twine and let it hang from a branch, swaying back in forth in the breeze. It has been said that when the string finally breaks and the doll drops to the ground, it has been so battered by the wind and the elements that you will run the intended ‘stark crazy’.