Voodoo Dolls: Do’s and Don’ts

I had a question in my ask box that prompted this particular Lesson for the week. The person asked what my thoughts were on Voodoo dolls, Instead of answering I decided to write this for y’all. I’ve never really worked with voodoo dolls myself, I have used “Poppets” Which are the Wiccan version of the Voodoo Doll though, so I feel like I might have some insight. 

I’ve done a bunch of research for you guys, so thats what this is going to be, a little bit of history, some spells and uses, and a whole lotta fun! 

“Thanks to Hollywood and general ignorance, the most popular misconception about Voodoo dolls is that they are made to exact revenge against enemies. Countless sites exist that promise to sell you a Voodoo doll with instructions for hexing someone, casting a revenge spell, or placing a curse on your enemy. These dolls come complete with justification for doing so. One site equates Voodoo with the “dark side of the magical spiritual world” and Voodoo dolls with the “Black Arts”. The justification assumes that you are protected from any type of karmic backlash because fair use of the Voodoo doll is not contrary to any Universal laws.

Newsflash!!! Most practitioners of Voodoo typically do not use pins in Voodoo dolls and when pins are used, they are used as focusing tools for healing and other positive purposes. Secondly, Voodoo is not a form of the Black Arts. Voodoo is a legitimate African religion brought to the Americas through slavery and the colonization process. It melded with elements of European folk magic, Indigenous herbology and beliefs, and elements of Catholicism to become a functional and positive spirituality. Voodoo guides its followers in matters of daily living, as most religions do.

Next, any tool used for magickal purposes can be charged to possess positive or negative vibrations through ceremony or meditation. In this way, the tool becomes alive and something to be respected. If misused, you will feel the karmic effects through conflicts, accidents, depression, or bad luck, for example. This is why it is extremely important to exercise caution when using your Voodoo doll. Voodoo dolls can be used for dark purposes; however, this is never a good idea. There IS karmic backlash associated with using Voodoo dolls with the intent of hurting someone else. That is why all of the reputable practitioners and their associated sites indicate their dolls are blessed to carry only positive energy and light with them. You would be wise to follow suit.”  (Squidoo)

“Using dolls and effigies in sympathetic magic rituals is as old as humankind. More often than not, ritual dolls and effigies were used for healing, fertility, and empowerment. In some cultures such as ancient Greece, they were used to bind enemies. European poppets were widely used in folk magic and witchcraft to curse an enemy. Other types of dolls were used in harvest customs and burial rites, made as talismans, or used as teaching aids for children. Although they are most commonly depicted as objects of revenge, Voodoo dolls are most often used for healing, finding true love, and spiritual guidance.

 When you use a Voodoo doll for magickal and ritualistic purposes, you are entering into a magickal contract with the Spirits you petition and the forces of the Universe. This requires you to practice co-creating your own reality. This means taking responsibility for the things you can change in your life and taking advantage of opportunities that come your way to help manifest your desire.

Use as a Focusing Tool

By far the most common use of a Voodoo doll is their use as focusing tools in ritual and meditation. This involves holding your doll while concentrating on your desires, or placing the doll on your altar where you can fix your gaze upon it while concentrating on your desire. 

Use in Candle Magick 

To use your Voodoo doll in candle magick, procure a candle in the color that is appropriate for your need. Light the candle, and write a petition that states your desired goal on a slip of paper and set it under the candle.  Hold your doll and focus intently on what you need. Set the doll next to the candle and let the candle burn out. After the candle has burned out, take the petition and attach it to your doll. After nine days, burn the petition and scatter the ashes to the East.

Use with the Seven Pins

Pins, nails, needles, and fish bones have been used in conjunction with Voodoo dolls or its predecessors the nkisi or bocio or Africa for centuries.

Symbolism of the 7 pin colors:

  • yellow – success
  • white – positive
  • red – power
  • purple – spirituality
  • green – money
  • blue – love
  • black – repelling negative energy

Use to Petition the Loa

To use your Voodoo doll to petition a particular loa, light a candle in the appropriate color of the loa, and make offerings to the loa. For example, to use Papa Legba Voodoo doll as a focusing tool you would light a red or black candle (his favorite colors), and greet him with his ritual greeting,

“Odu Legba, Papa Legba, open the door, I am waiting. Open the door Papa Legba, open the door. On my way back, I will return the favor.”

You can then tell him your wishes and offer him some of his favorite things in three (his favorite number). Things he likes are candy, corn, rum, and cigars. 

When you place your petition and add the appropriate offerings, you are placing your order with the loa for what you want. You are entering into a magickal contract which requires you to practice co-creating your own reality. This means taking responsibility for the things you can change in your life and taking advantage of opportunities that come your way to help manifest your desire.” (Planet Voodoo)

“Few things are as closely associated with Voodoo as the Voodoo doll. The tiny straight pin is mightier than the sword, or the pen. The Voodoo doll is a form of gris-gris, a ritualized form of invoking the spirits, or fate, to act in a defined way towards a targeted person. The doll can be used for love, for power and domination, for luck, for uncrossing and, yes, in some evil ways, for harm. 

How to Use the Voodoo Doll:

The doll is not so much a remote control for manipulating another person as much as it is a representation of the person used to appeal to the Voodoo spirits. The Voodoo straight pin, or thorn, is actually used attach something to the doll to make he doll represent, or even become, the person to whom it is targeted. To cause the doll and the intended person to become one and the same, one, or both, of two techniques may be used. First, label the doll as the targeted person by pinning a picture of them, or at least, their name, to the doll. Some dolls are intentionally with blank faces to the user can draw in the targeted person’s image. Second, made the doll become the person by attaching or inserting a thing that was previously from, or in intimate contact with the person. Some examples of this would be a lock of hair, a nail clipping or piece of their clothing that had been in intimate contact with them. 

To make the doll work one should be familiar with the Voodoo spirits, which ones are useful for various given purposes and what things will appeal to that spirit.  Adding things to the doll, like love like perfume or rose petals for love, clover or garlic for luck and money or sitting it between a blue, and a white candle for healing increases it’s powers. Best results are obtained by consulting a practitioner for individual advice. 

Red Magic:

In Voodoo, the priestess (Queen) or priest (Doctor), serves the spirits. The practice of gris-gris magic is a petition to the spirits. There are however certain spirits that can be coerced, controlled or bribed and certain persons who manipulate them in such a way. While the interpretations vary, such spirits are generally the Congolese Ghédé spirits and the person who manipulate them are Witchdoctors. On some occasions, an otherwise benign spirit may be transformed into a malicious nature. When this occurs the spirit’s eyes turn to red and the suffix “oje rouge” (“red eyed”) is added to its name. In Voodoo the concepts of white magic, or black magic have no meaning. When evil is manifest, its color is red. When a Voodoo doll is used for evil or harm, the practitioner is engaging in evil witchcraft, which is counter to, and proscribed by, actual Voodoo.  Such intentions, if known, are normally censured and interdicted by a Queen or Doctor.


The Voodoo has become something of a movie star. As such, its use in this visual medium is always prominent and observed. This leads many cynics, taking movies as fact, to conclude the power of the doll, or the gris-gris is the result of autosuggestion against a vulnerable, or perhaps just gullible, victim. In fact, this thesis is wrong both on its premise and its conclusion. The premise errs in the belief that the doll, or gris-gris, is show, or made known to the target. In real Voodoo, the doll is always kept hidden. True, it is best to put it as close to the target as possible, but always keep its presence covert. The reason for this is that if the target knows of the gris-gris and/or the doll, they can and will take protective and uncrossing actions to mitigate or eliminate its power. The conclusion follows therefore also follows in error since the intended person the Voodoo is directed to does know of the doll, and therefore, can not act under the psychosis of autosuggestion. In fact, the more cynical and disbelieving a person is, the more vulnerable they are to Voodoo.” (Voodoo Museum)

About Curses, Hexes, Jinxes, Crossings, and Downright Bad Mojo

The act of cursing an enemy goes as far back as well…the beginning of time!

A curse is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or unhappiness will befall another person or persons. Curses occur vis a vis any supernatural power, such as a spell, a prayer, magic, witchcraft, a god, a natural force, or a spirit. In many belief systems, the curse itself (or accompanying ritual) is considered to be a primary force in the result.

Special names for specific types of curses can be found in various cultures:

African American hoodoo presents us with the jinx and crossed conditions, as well as a form of foot track magic, whereby cursed objects are laid in the paths of victims and activated when walked over.

Middle Eastern and Mediterranean culture is the source of the belief in the evil eye, which may be the result of envy but, more rarely, is said to be the result of a deliberate curse. In order to be protected from the evil eye, a protection item is made from dark blue circular glass, with a circle of white around the black dot it the middle, which is reminiscent of a human eye. The size of the protective eye item may vary.

German people, including the Pennsylvania Dutch speak in terms of hexing (from the German word for witchcraft), and a common hex in days past was that laid by a stable-witch who caused milk cows to go dry and horses to go lame.

Indian people use the word Shaap in Hindi and Marathi, shapam in Malayalam, and Sabam in Tamil.

Surprisingly, the Catholic church not only believes in the efficacy of curses but allows that there may be appropriate times to use them. Based on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Vatican allows that believers may:

petition that calamity may be visited by God on persons or things in requital for wrongdoing. … [If] the imprecation be directed towards irrational creatures not on account of their relation to God, but simply as they are in themselves, the guilt is no greater than that which attaches to vain and idle words, except where grave scandal is given, or the evil wished to the irrational creature cannot be separated from serious loss to a rational creature, as would be the case were one to wish the death of another’s horse, or the destruction of his house by fire, for such wishes involved serious violation of charity.

The Algonquin tribe of Native Americans famously cursed its enemies, including a famous hex that the president holding office every 20 years after 1820 would die in office. Only 2 presidents have dodged the presidential curse thus far; Ronald Reagan, who literally had to dodge a bullet to escape, and George W. Bush.

The Curse of 27 is the belief that 27 is an unlucky number due to the number of famous musicians and entertainers who have died at the age. Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Janis Joplin, Jonathan Brandis and Kurt Cobain are all believed to have been affected by the curse of 27. This is also known as the 27 Club. Some suggest that these folks may have been down to the crossroads and made a pact with the devil and that at the age of 27 is when the devil comes to collect payment for their fame and fortune in the form of their souls.

However, it is arguably the one and only “Original Sin” that wins the prize for the most popular curse on humankind. Doomed to a lifetime of guilt and shame for seeking knowledge, God put the whammy on Adam, Eve, and the snake:

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Pretty harsh and would be illegal here in the U.S. nowadays…” (Planet Voodoo)

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