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A 101 on Poppets

Poppets are one of the oldest forms of sympathetic magic. It is a fetish item that resembles the likeness of someone, either yourself or another person, so that magic may be performed for or on them. They can be composed of wax, clay, cloth, or straw, and can include personal articles of the person in question to directly link it to the target.

Contrary to popular belief, poppets are not exclusive to Voudon or African folk beliefs (where they have been called "voodoo dolls"). They also are not strictly used to cause harm, because the poppet is a versatile, dual-purpose tool; this means that they can be used for both healing and harming someone, whichever need arises. There is evidence that poppets have been used in European folk magic for centuries.

Dolls such as the one above were brought to the New World from England, where the word "poppet" also referred to a girl's toy. These replicas, which can be bought off the Plimoth Patuxet Museum gift shop, are based off ones brought to America in 1621.

In the Germanic diaspora, particularly Norway, kitchen witch figurines are popular in protecting the home from unwanted influences. There is also evidence of kitchen witches in English kitchens during the Tudor era (c. 15th-16th centuries)

Here are some examples of how a poppet can be employed for magical use; they are quite versatile, so this is not a finite list:

• healing

• binding

• malediction (hexes/curses)

• banishing

• attraction

• protection

Empowering a poppet is fairly simple but very involved. If it is cloth, stuff the body with herbs matching your intention. If you have actual articles from the person, like hair or nail parings, it is much more effective. If it is of clay or wax, mix up your selected herbs with the melted wax or wet clay, and prime your hands with an essential oil suited to your purpose before you begin molding it. As you craft your poppet, focus on who it is supposed to represent. When finished, name the poppet so that when you need to use it, you know who it's supposed to be.

This is a form of magic you can be creative with. Take liberties and let perception take over - you'll be pleased with the results.

Poppets can be made from cloth, wax, clay, or even flexible straw. Poppets can be used to heal or to harm, so take extra caution in its use. While all levels may use them effectively, they are simple to create and thus a beginner can easily make one. Let's make a cloth one! You will need:

  • sewing needle

  • 2 thread colors (one to match the color of the fabric, and one that is easily visible on the cloth)

  • stuffing (cotton balls, quilt batting)

  • herbs (to correspond with the magical goal)

  • taglock (this can be anything directly from or relating to the target; a photo, nail parings, hair)

  1. Obtain cloth or fabric - it can be any color as long as it matches your intention, but white, black or taupe-colored fabric can be for all purposes. Fold it and cut out shapes that would form a head, a torso, arms and legs. By the end of this step, you should have 2 pieces of fabric for each. Keep them all together in the order you cut them.

  2. Thread your needle with the thread that matches the fabric, and stitch the outside parts of the poppet together. When each part is sewn, turn it inside out. Proceed to stuff the parts of the poppet, but only stuff the torso bit halfway. You want to make room for herbs.

  3. It is a good idea to add herbs to the torso of the doll, as previously stated, to empower it. You could use a mix of herbs, or just one herb. Here are a few examples with what you could use for what:

○ for a love poppet, fill it with herbs like rose or lavender

○ for a protection poppet, put in herbs like mugwort or stinging nettle

○ for healing, use peppermint, balsam, or life everlasting

If you have biological taglocks, like hair or nail parings, this is the time to stuff them into the poppet. When finished with this part, stuff the rest of the torso and stitch closed.

4. Assemble the poppet parts so that it forms a small doll. One it is together, you can sew on eyes, a mouth. Proceed to name the poppet by holding it and saying: "Creature of cloth, you are [name]. I name you [name]."

I hope this is helpful in making poppets! Remember to be cautious and mindful about your intentions, as poppets serve dual purposes.

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