Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Nkisi and Working with Doll Babies

A while ago, I purchased a Beeswax Doll  made by Alyssa at Anathemum and had kept him tucked safely away until I felt the need to get him ready to work. Alyssa makes wonderful quality items and these beeswax dolls (or doll babies as we call them) are hand poured by her using her own mold design. The beeswax is a very good feature as natural materials are always best and full of the most ashe'. Beeswax also gives dolls a special weight and feel, almost flesh-like. Not greasy like synthetic waxes. It features a small hole in the bottom, making these dolls very suitable for workings because they are ready to use. They are also remarkably affordable and unparalelled in quality-I have seen nothing like them offered anywhere. I will document my process here with one way I prepare my doll babies.



Doll babies and poppets are both forms of sympathetic or fetish magic. The gris gris and items you use in, and to dress the doll, would correspond with your goal for the target. By target, I mean the person (or type of person) the doll is to represent. A doll baby is usually solid-made of clay, dough, or wax-and a poppet is cut of cloth, sewn, and filled with gris gris.

One of the historical fetish traditions that correlate with this type of practice is from the Bantu of the Congo Basin and it is called "nkisi" and "nkonde". "Kiti" refers to a spiritual entity in Bantu. They can be made from  animal horns, clay vessels, gourds, ceramic, shells, and bundles of items-a practice our gris gris bags mimic. These statues or dolls are filled clay, hair, blood, and herbs-just as we fill doll babies and poppets with our own gris gris and bodily fluids. And, in the same fashion as doll babies or poppets can be used, they are used to house spirits. The Nkonde are used for protection, and often represent the protection of entire community. These statues feature a cavity in the abdomen and there may be cavities in other places as well. They are also covered with copious amounts of large, square head, iron nails. Each nail driven in repesents a petition, an oath, and/or a promise. When a nail is pounded into the nkisi, it was believed to awaken the spirit. Nkisi can be used for divination, healing, to punish and enemy, to protect and for a multitude of other uses. The tradition of Nkisi (Minkisi is plural) was carried here via the slave trade from Africa to the Americas.

A Nkisi on display at The Musée du Quai Branly.

A nkisi I had the pleasure of experiencing in New Orleans.

I began by retrieving my doll baby, whom I had kept safely in my hoodoo cabinet, near all of my dearest curios. I took extra care to not bump or knock him while working while he was waiting to be awakened. It is not time for him to have a place of his own until he is activated, or filled with ashe'. However I did not want to begin with a mared or damaged doll, as this doll is to represent someone we truly love, care for, and would never want to harm. Should the doll have been made to represent an enemy, I would have have thrown him in a dark drawer and left him until I was ready. I then collected the items I wanted to use to fill the cavity of my doll baby. I covered my work space with a large piece of brown paper, to protect from wax drippings and the grit of iron fillings on my wooden table. I gathered my lodestones, one small, square iron nail, a name paper, my choice of oil (which was Come To Me Oil), a red candle to seal the cavity, and a few other bits of gris gris.


I inscribed my name paper (any slip of paper bearing a name), using a pen, with the name of the loved one. I then dressed it with my Come To Me Oil, rolled it up into a tiny scroll and sealed it with red wax. I made sure not to roll the scroll too tightly as I want to slip the iron nail down into the middle of the scroll to firmly attach this to the doll. The name paper was then tucked into the cavity of the doll baby.


I then dressed the iron nail with my Come To Me Oil and slipped it into the hole in the middle of the scroll. I  used my pen to push the nail as far into the cavity (and into the doll baby itself) as I could. This is one step in activating the doll baby, as you are firmly nailing the name and spirit of the person, as well as your intent, to the inside of the doll.


The cavity is now partially prepared and will be filled the rest of the way with oil, gris gris, bodily fluid, and my breath.


The cavity is then completely filled and sealed with red wax. Make sure to do this a few times as bubbles will arise from the cavity due to air needing to escape as the wax envelopes the contents of the doll .

\

After carefully holding and breathing life into the doll baby, I set to work on creating a resting place for him. The resting place can not be made until the doll is activated and can comunicate what it would like in a proper space. This will be saved for a post at a later time. I hope you all consider trying making your own and working with doll babies. Ashe'.
















3 comments:

  1. Hi Sarah, when will you be posting about the resting place?
    What do you do with the doll after being prepared and awaken? Do you just leave it in the resting place? If you want to get rid of it, how do you do it?
    BTW when will you have the 5 inch available again?
    Thanks,
    Denise

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully, I'll have some time soon to extend on this. The doll stays in it's resting place, yes. Disposal is determined by the intent of the doll. I am no longer carrying the dolls as the supplier has stopped making them. Thank you for reading!

      Delete
  2. Can this also be used say for an ex husband to erase my emotional pain still?

    ReplyDelete