When most of us think about voodoo dolls, we think poking a doll with a pin hoping that it hurts someone who caused us harm. As a European, I only know what I’ve seen in movies. In Lilo & Stitch, Lilo creates a voodoo doll of her friends out of spoons, puts them in a pickle jar, and shakes them. She does this to punish her friends because the common perception is that voodoo dolls are all about revenge. However, this is not at all what voodoo dolls are for…
Voodoo Dolls? More Like Vodou Dolls.
Voodoo is a real religion, and the proper spelling for it is Vodou. It is practiced in Haiti and some other places in the Caribbean. The idea of effigy dolls used for evil purposes, such as hurting others, is a myth originating from the ancient Middle East. They are used to help people with healing and as a way to communicate with deceased loved ones.
New Orleans – Souvenir Voodoo Dolls
New Orleans is known for the voodoo queens and kings that were spiritual and political figures of power in the 1800s. Voodoo came to Louisiana via the slaves from West Africans. Their religious rituals and practices merged with those of the local Catholic population to create something that is known today as Voodoo-Catholicism. The religion is all about connection to nature, spirits, and one’s ancestors. Even today, voodoo remains important in New Orleans. You can take tours to learn the history, etc.
“The Voodoo dolls that are sold in shops in New Orleans and elsewhere are small human effigies, made from two sticks tied in a cross shape to make a body with two arms sticking out. The shape is often covered in a brightly colored triangle of cloth and sometimes Spanish moss is used to fill out the body form. The head is of black cloth or wood, and it often has rudimentary facial features: eyes, nose, and a mouth. They are often decorated with feathers and sequins, and they come with a pin or a dagger, and instructions on how to use it.
These Voodoo dolls are strictly made for the tourist market in places like New Orleans or the Caribbean, where they are sold as inexpensive mementos in tourist shops, in open-air markets, and thrown during parades. They are not used by actual Vodou practitioners.”Learn Religions
How are Voodoo Dolls Used?
Dolls are an important part of voodoo rituals in West Africa, Haiti, and New Orleans. They are always used for healing purposes. When they are hung from trees in cemeteries, this is said to open and maintain communication lines between the recently deceased and those they left behind. On the other hand, when tacked to the trees upside down, they are supposed to make their creator stop caring for someone bad for them.
The word ‘voodoo’ actually means ‘spirits.’ The Voodoo religion is a macigo-religious practice aiming to connect spirits with mortals. According to their beliefs, this is only possible by using a gris-gris through a magical process. Gris-gris is defined as either the magical act itself or the object used for magic. The voodoo doll is an example of a gris-gris.
Voodoo is often feared in today’s society. However, it has a lot of fascinating history, and the purpose of objects such as voodoo dolls is not meant for evil purposes or revenge. They are meant to heal and connect you with deceased loved ones who are in the spirit world. Follow The Travel Bug Bite for more great content!