A journey through the hands of a maker of magical items, discovering not only the secrets of Sacred art, but also the history and preservation of disappearing forms of Artisan work.
The Spirit Of Dolls
A doll is like an talisman, or an altar statue - its energy starts and grows with the creator, and after it is made the owner also adds his/her own energy. With enough love and energy, the doll becomes something that, no matter that I have been doing this for more than a decade, I cannot fully explain. A living thing? Something with a soul? Call it what you want, but I can tell you what she is not - an empty, inanimate thing.
Since I work only with discarded, abandoned and second hand dolls, they often arrive to me with very strange energies, not always good ones. Children have an extremely powerful way to transfer their own emotions to their dolls, and while I don't believe in haunted dolls at all, I believe in unhappy, traumatized children that embed their sadness, their anger, their pain into their dolls.
This is the first part where being a Witch comes into play - cleansing all that energy away. Right after being physically cleaned, each doll goes through energy work to release any negativity that may have stayed with her. That energy is sent into Mother Earth, whom will use it or transform it as She sees fit, and the doll is sprinkled with Blessed Water and passed through incense smoke. After that, they go to "sleep" for a time in my doll cupboard - I have way more dolls that I can work on, so that sleep is usually months long.
That way, when I take it to start drafting patterns and ideas, the doll's energy is completely blank, just as I want it. As the work progresses, it works no different than with any of my other forms of artwork - it gathers energy from me, from my husband Fernando (who usually works his woodcarving in my studio), from the whole house, which is a Sacred space itself, and from the Spirits that inhabit and visit our house.
In a process that is beyond my understanding - but that I can perceive SO clearly - the doll starts to wake up. By the end of the work, the doll tells me how she wants to be called, and usually makes her way into her new owner in a matter of weeks. Absolutely everyone who has purchased dolls from me has told me that they were called to purchase them, and that they felt a very special connection from the moment I posted the first pics. Anyone who has ever experienced and/or performed Magic knows this is a very powerful process, that changes both the maker and the receiver of said Magic.
Dollmaking is the process where I feel my ability to channel Sacred energy rises to its highest expression. While I have read incredibly snob comments on how plastic dolls are not good enough to be vessels for the Spirit, in Santería there is a huge tradition of using this type of doll to represent Orishas, Guides and Ancestors, and are also given as offerings during the Orishas' special days, or placed in altars and Bóvedas*. I used to give readings at a Santería shop whose resident Santera had a wonderful dark skinned doll brought from Cuba that was the vessel for La Negra Tomasa, a very known Spirit Guide that was her advisor and protector. The doll had her own wicker chair beside the altar, and every year the Santera would sew a complete new outfit for the doll. I was very lucky to see several of them and they were outstanding, and worth a small fortune of laces and silks. Another Santero I met used to have a Yemanya doll made for him every year, and would release it into the sea on Yemaya's day. Giving the Orishas a new doll, or a new outfit for the altar doll's collection, is a very known way to obtain the favour of a Spirit.
And well - if they are good enough for the Orishas, they are good enough for me.
*Note: A Bóveda Espiritual is an Ancestor altar in the Santería tradition.
Note To Picture – the same doll, before and after customizing.
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