Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Art of Making Voodoo Dolls

At first mention, the words "voodoo dolls" conjure up images of ugly, scary looking things suitable only for sticking with pins, burying, or burning. Indeed, there probably isn't a more stereotypical image of Voodoo than that of a doll stuck with pins filled with evil intent towards an unsuspecting victim. Thanks to Hollywood and the media, Voodoo in all of it's forms (Haitian, African, New Orleans, Cuban, Brazilian, etc.), is publicly shrouded with a black veil of misunderstanding, ignorance, and fear. The core religious and spiritual aspect of Voodoo is portrayed as Satanic and evil, and the Voodoo doll is the consummate oppressive mascot.

As a Native born New Orleanian Voodoo artist, I have created this blog to provide a forum for discussing the art of Voodoo, and more specifically, the art of Voodoo doll making. Frankly, I am tired of seeing the prevailing image of the sinister Voodoo doll, and will provide a glimpse into another side of Voodoo; the incredible healing potential of Voodoo as a spiritual practice and avenue for creative artistic expression.

The use of Voodoo dolls, gris-gris, and mojo in hexes and curses in New Orleans reportedly peaked during the reign of the infamous Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. The origin of the practice of sticking pins into dolls as a curse can be found in European poppets and West and Central African nkisi or bocios. It has been suggested that making Voodoo dolls and sticking them with pins was one way in which slaves exercised some form of control over their masters. The malevolent use of Voodoo dolls is considered a form of Bokor (Black) Voodoo that perpetuates the damaging stereotypes associated with Voodoo. Today, many practitioners of the Voodoo religion make a concerted effort to disassociate from the malevolent use of Voodoo dolls, and instead create and use them for positive purposes. Approximately 90% of the use of Voodoo dolls is centered on healing, finding true love, spiritual guidance, and as focusing tools in meditation. In New Orleans, Voodoo dolls are largely sold as souvenirs, curios, and novelty items.

I come from the Deep South, New Orleans to be exact, and so my Voodoo dolls are created in the traditional Voodoo doll fashion out of 2 sticks and a handfull of Spanish moss. I consider myself a conjure artist, whereby I summon a spirit to be created or I am summoned by a spirit to be created. The result is often a surprise, and the process of creating a Voodoo doll is a dynamic and magickal one.

To learn step by step how to make your very own Voodoo doll in the New Orleans conjure art tradition, visit my website The Mystic Voodoo.

More later...


Voodoo Mama

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