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Spirit Dolls in Witchcraft: A Deep Dive into Spirit Work and Mystical Practices


In the practice of witchcraft, there is a profound connection between the practitioner and the natural world. One intriguing method of spirit work is the use of spirit dolls, often referred to as spirit or house dolls. Learn more about how different cultures use spirit dolls in their magical practices. These dolls are more than mere figurines; they are crafted with intention and imbued with spiritual energy to assist in household needs and magical practices.

Spirit Dolls
The Teacher plant spirit doll from

The Historical Roots of Spirit Dolls

The Origins and Traditional Uses

The use of spirit dolls in magical practices dates back centuries, with different cultures around the world incorporating them into their spiritual rituals. In traditional witchcraft, spirit dolls were often used to house protective spirits or familiars. These dolls were carefully crafted and consecrated to serve as vessels for spirits that would help protect the home and assist the witch in various tasks.

The Practice of Crafting Spirit Dolls

Gemma Gary, in her book Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways, describes the meticulous process of creating a spirit doll. The body of the doll can be made from wood, cloth, or any material that resonates with the witch. It is important to lavish detail and care upon the creation, providing the doll with good clothes, a stick of blackthorn, and other items for comfort and aid in its work.

“The body of this doll may be fashioned according to the tastes and hand-skills of the witch, from such things as wood or cloth as long as detail and care is lavished upon her creation.”
Traditional Witchcraft, page 168

Breathing Life into the Spirit Doll

Rituals and Techniques

Once the spirit doll is crafted, it must be imbued with spirit. This can be done through various rituals, including taking the doll to sacred stones or performing a birth ritual through a holed stone. The goal is to call forth the spirit of a wise old woman or another protective entity to inhabit the doll.

“When her body is complete, the witch may breathe life into her with whatever methods or rites are of preference. One way is to take her to the Men-an-Tol stones and birth her through the holed stone.”
Traditional Witchcraft, page 169

Spirit Dolls in Witchcraft: A Deep Dive into Spirit Work and Mystical Practices 1
Elder Hedgewitch Plant Doll

The Role of the Spirit Doll in the Home

“Once imbued with spirit, the spirit doll is placed in the home to serve as a guardian and helper. Discover how to use spirit dolls for protection and banishing negative energies. It is offered food and drink to motivate it to see to the household’s needs, providing protection against curses, evil spirits, and ill intent.

“After this was done, the Witch would offer her a bit of food and drink so the doll would be motivated to see all needs of the home met.”
Death’s Head: Animal Skulls in Witchcraft & Spirit Work, page 30

Modern Applications of Spirit Dolls

Adapting Traditional Practices

Modern witches continue to use spirit dolls, adapting traditional methods to fit contemporary needs. These dolls can serve various purposes, from protection and healing to guidance and inspiration. Crafting and working with a spirit doll can be a deeply personal and transformative experience, enhancing one’s connection to the spiritual realm.

Creating Your Own Spirit Doll

  1. Choose Your Materials: Select materials that resonate with your intention. This can include fabric, wood, clay, or any other medium you feel drawn to.
  2. Craft with Care: Pay attention to detail as you craft your doll. The more effort and intention you put into its creation, the more powerful it will be.
  3. Perform the Ritual: Use a ritual to imbue the doll with spirit. This can involve chanting, meditation, or other methods that feel right to you.
  4. Offerings and Maintenance: Regularly offer food, drink, and other gifts to the doll to keep the spirit engaged and motivated.

Incorporating Reiki into Spirit Dolls

Another modern adaptation is the creation of Reiki Spirit Dolls. These dolls are crafted similarly but are specifically charged with Reiki energy, which can be used for healing and sending Reiki over long distances.

“Creating and using a Reiki doll is a wonderful way to send Reiki long distance. It can also be charged with Reiki and an intention set for something you would like to manifest in your life.”
Reiki Spirit Dolls, page 1

Spirit Dolls in Witchcraft: A Deep Dive into Spirit Work and Mystical Practices 2
The Lichen Mask Plant Spirit by Sacred Familiar

Inspirational Case Studies

Historical Examples

Throughout history, many cultures have utilized dolls in their spiritual practices. For instance, in ancient Egypt, wax figures were used in magical rites to influence outcomes and communicate with deities. These historical practices provide a rich context for understanding the enduring significance of spirit dolls in witchcraft.

“Examples similar to this can be found throughout history: circa 1200 BCE an Egyptian treasury official used a wax figure in a conspiracy against Ramses III.”
Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, page 177

Modern Practices

Modern witches continue to innovate and adapt traditional practices, finding new ways to integrate spirit dolls into their rituals. These contemporary practices often blend historical methods with modern sensibilities, creating a dynamic and evolving tradition that remains relevant today.

“Spirit Dolls belong to no specific creed or vocabulary. Each maker or recipient of a Spirit Doll brings her own vocabulary to the process and to its meaning.”
Spirit Dolls, page 9

Personal Stories and Testimonials

The Healing Power of Spirit Dolls

In her book, Barb Kobe shares how creating spirit dolls can be a deeply healing experience. She describes how these dolls are more than art; they are embodiments of the maker’s journey, reflecting emotions and attributes that need to be embraced or honored. The process of making spirit dolls can be cathartic, helping individuals deal with emotions and experiences in a unique and transformative way.

“Making Spirit dolls takes me to a much deeper level than I’ve experienced before. It is cathartic. The Spirit dolls represent aspects of my journey. Each one magnifies an emotion or an attribute I want to embrace or honor or work with, in myself, or others.” Spirit Dolls, page 11

Spirit Dolls as Comfort and Healing for Traumatic Memories

Another powerful story comes from a practitioner who created spirit dolls for the spirits of women and children who suffered in the Magdalene Laundries. This practice not only provided comfort to these spirits but also served as a form of healing for the maker. The dolls were left at significant sites, including a laundry site in Melbourne and the Magdalene Laundry in Dublin.

“The strongest stories for me were of the women and children incarcerated within the Magdalene Laundries… I began by creating and leaving a doll at the old site of the laundry near my home in Melbourne, Australia to be a comfort for the spirits who may still be feeling pain there. I traveled to Ireland and left a doll for the women of the Magdalene Laundry in Dublin.”
Spirit Dolls, page 14

The Joy and Transformation Through Spirit Doll Creation

Brenna Busse, a long-time creator of spirit dolls, describes how making these dolls has been a source of joy and transformation. She recounts how her creations, known as “Keepers,” were given to those who needed them, each doll embodying an inexhaustible life force meant to deeply touch and transform the recipient.

“These spirit dolls embodied that inexhaustible life force, as one by one I let them go. They were held, chosen, given to those who understood, who needed them… Over the years, I have continued to create ‘Keepers’ — from a more joyful place, a little larger, more colorful — with the same intention – to deeply touch and transform.”
Spirit Dolls, page 8

Creating Spirit Dolls as a Personal Journey

Maureen Carlson shares her experience of making spirit dolls for over thirty years. One of her first intentional spirit dolls was a small wrapped figure made for a young friend going to Australia as an exchange student. This doll served as a reminder that she was never alone, highlighting how spirit dolls can be powerful symbols of support and connection.

“I’ve been making spirit dolls for more than thirty years, perhaps one of the first intentional ones being a small wrapped figure that I made for my young friend, Michelle, who was heading to Australia for a year as an exchange student. It was a pocket doll, made for her to carry as a reminder of who she was and to reassure her that she was never alone.”
Spirit Dolls, page 8

The Spiritual Journey of Spirit Doll Making

The process of creating spirit dolls is described as a spiritual journey, where each doll represents an aspect of the creator’s inner self. This journey often involves deep reflection, emotional exploration, and personal growth. Barb Kobe emphasizes that creating spirit dolls helps her understand and express her spiritual path, each doll guiding her deeper into her own spiritual and emotional landscape.

“Each doll guides me deeper into whatever I am. I suppose one never really knows oneself fully. Making Spirit dolls is a pathway to my inner self and sometimes higher self.”
Spirit Dolls, page 11


Spirit work and the use of spirit dolls in witchcraft offer a profound way to connect with the spiritual realm and enhance your magical practice. By crafting and imbuing a spirit doll with intention, witches can create powerful allies that assist in protection, healing, and various other magical endeavors. Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or new to the craft, exploring the mystical world of spirit dolls can provide a deeper understanding of the spiritual forces that shape our lives.

Call to Action

We’d love to hear about your experiences with spirit dolls! Share your stories in the comments section below. Are you inspired to create your own spirit doll? Dive into the craft, explore its magical potential, and share your journey with our community.

Additional Resources

For further reading on spirit work and the use of spirit dolls in witchcraft, consider exploring the following books:

  • Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways by Gemma Gary
  • Death’s Head: Animal Skulls in Witchcraft & Spirit Work by Blake Malliway
  • Folk Witchcraft: A Guide to Lore, Land, & the Familiar Spirit for the Solitary Practitioner by Roger J. Horne

These resources offer deeper insights and practical guidance for anyone interested in incorporating spirit work into their witchcraft practice.