There are no real accepted rules on how to create a “real” Voodoo doll. You can make any doll you want, and however you want, by keeping in mind that the doll will have direct materialistic and spiritual connection to the person. People have made Voodoo dolls from any materials they could get their hands on in various places and periods, such as clay, wood, wax, corn leaves, human bones, various fabrics, feathers, plant roots, etc.
You can use any materials at your disposal. Let’s have a look at some in more detail.
New Orleans Voodoo dolls were mostly made out of blue clay, which was dug out of burrows of crayfish. You can use any clay you want to create your dolls. When finishing working on a doll, a hollow void is kept inside, where materials can be put into that hold symbolism or belong to the person such as herbs for example. After that the doll is brought into a proper form, painted and applied with magical symbols.
A classic material for New Orleans Voodoo dolls. This plant resembles a human beard hanging from the branches of trees, and is an excellent material for stuffing pillows, furniture, etc. This is why Spanish Moss is common in southern United States, and has been used successfully by Louisiana sorcerers. A “traditional” Voodoo doll without legs is made out of this plant.
A material which is perfect in almost all aspects. It is flexible and capable to last in its original shape for a long time. Wax is especially preferred for its ease of human portrayal, ease of carving magic symbols and the possibility to attach human hair to the doll.
Rag dolls were used in New Orleans Voodoo and were made from two strips of material. These two strips are then embroidered into two identical forms on the left and right side of the doll, leaving a hole to fill the doll with magic herbs, objects or ordinary moss.
The most primitive doll can be made out of wood, but such dolls will only depict a human form in a very generalized way (without the small details). Sometimes a single doll is carved from a single piece of wood, which requires a certain skill and accuracy. One of the simplest versions of dolls which were popular in early stages of Voodoo in Louisiana was a thick tree branch or stump covered in moss, trimmed with a cloth and a face which made the doll look somewhat realistic.
The roots of a mandrake, which often look very similar to a human figure, can be used for Voodoo magic without any additional work. With sufficient skill, you can carve a figure of a human from potatoes, celery or the like.
Those who are familiar with the papier-mache technique don’t need explanation how a Voodoo doll can be made out of paper. The two basic ways to do so is to either turn the paper into pulp, soak it and mix it with an adhesive composition (then it can be used as clay or wax), or apply layer by layer, gluing the paper to the same composition. It is easy to turn paper into a substitute for other materials.
Voodoo dolls out of bones are mainly used for black magic.
Dolls can be made out of plastic, polyethylene, foam, or even from 3d printers using the latest technology.
About Mambo Ava Marie
Ava Marie has spent most of her younger days in Haiti, studying and understanding Vodou from the highest ranks. She has years of experience and has joined forces with us to write and share her insights.