When most people picture a voodoo doll, they think of Hollywood movies with witch doctors, black magic and painful pins. If we explored voodoo deeper, however, we would find a rich and diverse spiritual practice. We would see that voodoo dolls are not instruments of evil. Rather, they are instruments of intent.
Voodoo is a religion that has been carried all around the globe, and all voodoo stems from ancient Africa. There, the religion is largely untouched by foreign influence, with thousands of years of indigenous tradition and heritage backing it up.
“Voodoo” means “spirit of God.” Believers of voodoo hold true to one distant yet ever-present God, yet they speak with the spirits, called the Loa. The Loa are our dead ancestors and the messengers of the Creator. They influence the daily affairs of the living, especially when it comes to love, money, family, happiness, justice or revenge.
There is not much that is as closely tied to voodoo as the voodoo doll. African shamans started using dolls as a way to communicate with the Loa, like their dead ancestor, for guidance. The voodoo doll proved to be a reliable tool, for after thousands of years it is still used for important rituals.
In the days following Christopher Columbus' exploration of the new world, voodoo began to change. As droves of African slaves were brought to the Americas, religions and customs began to mix. Voodoo became a mish-mash of European folk magic, Native American healing arts and Catholicism. This caused voodoo dolls to be used in a variety of different ways than it used to be, such as using colored pins.
Using A Voodoo Doll
There are many types of voodoo dolls for all purposes, such as love, healing, empowerment, guidance, fertility or cursing. Some dolls are made into talismans or even teaching aids for children. The color of the doll has very strong inclinations for its intended purpose.
- White – positive, purification or healing
- Red – love, attraction or power
- Green – growth, wealth, money and fertility
- Yellow – success and confidence
- Purple – spirit realm, wisdom or psychic exploration
- Blue – love and peace
- Black – negative; it can be used to dispel negative energy or summon it.
These seven colors are also found on pins and needles. They are stuck into the doll to emphasize the intention.
The voodoo doll is often meant to address the spirit of a particular person. It can be used to summon the spirit through the Loa so that it hears your plea and makes manifest your desires, wishes and wants.
To communicate with a person's spirit, pin an intimate charm or token of that person to the doll, such as a lock of hair, a picture or a piece of clothing. You can talk directly to the spirit through the doll, appeal to it, ask it questions or persuade it to do something for you. It is up to you.
The voodoo doll is a focus tool for prayers, spells and meditation. Either hold the doll or place it on an altar where you can focus on it. You can add special items, like anointing oils, to increase the power of the doll and make the message clearer. Candle magic is especially effective for sending your message clear into the spirit world. Herbs, like patchouli root, cedar chips and rose petals can aid in healing intentions.
We should know by now that voodoo is not evil, and most rituals are intended for well-being. During the slave days, however, the slaves would use voodoo dolls as secret self-defense against the slave owners. The mistaken belief that voodoo dolls are only used for harm and vengeance most likely came from the trauma of this history.
Unfortunately, many commercial voodoo dolls are sold for the purpose of “revenge.” Although voodoo dolls can be charged in any way the user sees fit, malice and ill-will is never a good idea. It is important to note that focusing energy in this way can easily result in karmic backlash, such as depression, conflicts or bad luck. Traditionally, voodoo dolls are blessed by a priest or medicine man to carry positive vibrations and healing light to avoid such things.