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Poppets, Dolls and Effigies for Healing, not Harm

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When I talk about poppets, I often find people saying that they don’t like them because they’re only for cursing. It really isn’t true. Dolls and effigies have been widely used for healing and protection throughout history and in cultures all over the world. The photo at the top, which I took at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, shows effigies used by people wanting magical or divine healing. 

Since ancient times people have made little wax, stone or metal figures as votive offerings to represent themselves if they were ill or injured. Sometimes this was a model of a part of their body that needed healing, like the arm, leg, head and ear on the top picture. They would leave the effigies at sacred sites like temples or churches with the idea that this would send them healing energy even when they weren’t there. This is still done in countries including Greece, Italy, Spain and Latin America.

The models could be all sorts of body parts. The Science Museum in London has votive male genitalia made of marble from Ancient Rome, possibly made in the hope of a cure for impotence or in thanks for improved function. 

I’m giving an online talk on Poppets and Magical Dolls in History, Folklore and Practical Spellcraft this Thursday, 19th January, at the College of Psychic Studies. It starts at 7pm UK time. Tickets are £16 for non-members, with discount for members of the college. You can find the details here:

You can find copies of my book Pagan Portals – Poppets and Magical Dolls at my publisher Moon Books, at the College of Psychic Studies shop and at other booksellers.

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