How Voodoo Dolls are Made
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8: Ritual Effigies and Fetishes
Denise Alvarado, All Rights reserved.
In ancient times, dolls were used as representations of a deity, and
played a central role in religious ceremonies and rituals. Effigies,
for example, were used in religious rituals to represent an
undesired person or spirit and burned to destroy the unwanted
element. In traditional European pagan culture, corn dollies
were made of straw and associated with harvest customs.
Native American Kachinas dolls were meticulously carved from
cottonwood root and painted to represent figures from Hopi
mythology. Voodoo dolls were used by slaves as a means to empower
them against cruel slave owners. Today, dolls continue to be used in
magick and ritual as focusing tools and objects of empowerment.
Theoretically, fetishism is present in all
religions, but its use in the study of
religion is derived from studies of traditional West African
religious beliefs, as well as Voodoo,
which is derived from those beliefs. The word
derives from the Portuguese
A fetish is an object, talisman, or
amulet, believed to have supernatural powers. The term was
used by the Portuguese to refer to religious objects used by
the African natives. These objects may
have been used in sympathetic magic, identified in
a dream, associated with good fortune, or according to Lang
“they may (like a tree with an unexplained
stir in its branches, as reported by Kohl) have
seemed to show signs of life by spontaneous movements” (1900,
Fetishes are also commonly used in Native American
religion and culture. Small stone carvings
are crafted to resemble animals with sacred
qualities. For example, the bear may represent the shaman,
the buffalo may represent the provider,
the mountain lion may represent the warrior, and the
wolf may symbolize the pathfinder.
Do you have photos of an effigy or fetish? If so please, send them
to us via email along with the story behind them and we will post
them here, credit given, of course.
you have a doll you no longer want, you may send it to us as well. Simply wrap
it in a white cloth and package it carefully along with some background
information and we will add it our growing collection.
our other Voodoo Doll Galleries:
Gallery 1: Vintage
Cursed Voodoo Dolls
Gallery 3: New Orleans
Tourist Voodoo Dolls
Gallery 4: Lwa and Orisha
Gallery 5: Money and Luck
Gallery 6: Novelty Voodoo
Gallery 7: Ju Ju Dolls
Gallery 8: Effigies and Fetishes
Gallery 9: Elegba, Legba, Exu, and Spirits
of the Crossroads
Gallery 10: Poppets and
Gallery 11: Day of the
Fetish. This authentic African fetish was carved in the
Congo from a single piece of Native wood. The costume is
woven of straw and then carefully sewn onto the carving.
This type of fetish is believed by its creators to have
magical powers. It is used in ceremonies (especially
male puberty rites) to ward off evil spirits and
undesirable women. The male adults dress up in similar
life size straw costumes and masks.
Photo 2:Nipopo (Ainu's traditional wooden dolls) in
Asahikawa station, Hokkaido, Japan
Photo 3: Female jointed doll, Nuremberg c.
would like to read interesting facts about Voodoo dolls and
poppets or just simply want to know the latest additions to
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