Voodoo spells can be very powerful and many practitioners use a voodoo doll, also known as a poppet, to make them stronger. The doll is created in the image of the person that is meant to be influenced, and gives the spell caster complete control over them. Poppets are normally used in spells to attract, keep or control a lover, to heal a loved one or to hex an enemy. The type of magic which includes poppets is referred to as sympathetic magic.
The most common material from which poppets are made is cloth, normally cut and sewn into a similar shape of the person that is meant to be influenced. They can also be constructed from other materials, however, including wood, wax or clay. The doll is then filled with herbs which are relevant to the spell, as well as a few of the individual’s personal items. These are called taglocks and are used to connect the target to the doll. Some of the most commonly used ones are finger nail clippings, strands of hair, saliva or an item which has great meaning to the person. Spells in which the poppet is used can last from a few minutes to a few weeks, depending on the caster and the outcome they are looking for.
Poppets are normally associated with the practice of voodoo, but there have been many recorded incidents of their use before. The enemies of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses III, used a wax image in their elaborate plot to kill him. The Ancient Greeks were a magical society and many of their love and protection spells included the use of poppets. One type of the doll was called a Kolossoi and could restrain spirits or even dangerous deities. Others were also used in binding spells to tie two lovers together for an eternity.
Poppets have even been associated with British royalty. After Caroline Brunswick, Princess of Wales, got married to King George IV, it was said that she spent a lot of time forming wax dolls of her husband and sticking them with pins. The princess eventually moved to Italy with a lover that she had taken and, even though she remained married to the king, they spent the rest of their lives separated.
Many voodoo traditions originated from West African religions brought to the Americas with the slaves. In the motherland poppets are called fetishes, and they are believed to be a physical representation of a spirit which has chosen to help the owner of the doll accomplish a certain goal. The fetish is fashioned as an animal which represents the spirit and is normally worn on the body as an amulet, although they are many that love to be put on display.
The use of poppets became more prevalent in the voodoo tradition after the civil war. Current practitioners are divided in whether or not this tradition should be continued, as many of them believe that the use of a doll to represent somebody and influence them is immoral, while others believe that it is the foundation of many spells.