How To Work Magic With Poppets
In the witchcraft tradition, poppets are dolls made to represent a specific person for a magical purpose. Each poppet is unique because it is made by the witch who is casting the spell. Many people associate this magical tool with curses but it’s like any other magical tool. Sure, poppets can be used to curse but they’re also used for healing, manifesting, and protection spells.
How To Make A Poppet
Poppets are simple to make and it’s a fun, creative process. You don’t have any special materials. If you don’t have something, improvise. It doesn’t matter if the doll looks like the person it’s representing. Its power comes from the intention and energy you pour into it as you’re making and working with your poppet.
Making your poppet is part of your magical practice so you may want to create a sacred space in the area you’re planning on putting together your poppet. This can be done by using your preferred method.
To assemble your poppet-making materials, head to your local craft store, rummage through your cabinets, or go for a walk to collect interesting looking sticks and leaves. The main thing is to select materials you think will support your purposes. If you’re looking to cast a quick spell, you can opt to shape a doll out of aluminum foil. Thinking of performing a banishing spell? Make a doll out of meat and feed it to your dog. The possibilities are endless.
Also, consider the way you’re planning on disposing of your poppet after your spell. If you’re planning on sending your doll away in running water, make it out of natural materials like sticks or corn husks. If you plan on keeping your poppet and using it for multiple spells, use more durable materials like felt and thread.
Think about what colors, herbs, crystals, and oils would strengthen the intention of your poppet. Other, more unconventional objects can also lend power to your poppet such as responsibly sourced feathers to draw on the element of air, graveyard dirt, fur from your favorite pet, or your favorite bottle of nail polish. Each item should hold some kind of meaning to you. You might want to add an item or two that connects the poppet to the person it is representing—whether it’s you or someone else. It isn’t necessary to use items from yourself or another person. You can connect and activate a poppet using only energy.
Here’s a list of materials used to make poppets.
For the doll:
Old t-shirts or socks worn by the person being represented
Needle and thread (or embroidery floss, yarn dental floss, etc.)
Paper or cardboard
Potatoes or other food
For the stuffing:
Leftover spell candle wax
Coins or paper money
Cotton balls anointed with oil
Tacks, safety pins, or other pointy objects for curses
Dehydrated vegetables that support your intention (For example, use jalapeños for hexes and orange peels for happiness spells.)
A picture of the person being represented
Pieces of paper with sigils, incantations, or affirmations written on it
Magical tools such as runes or pendulums
Photos or images from magazines that support your intention
Assembling Your Poppet
You can find your own way of doing this, depending on what medium you’re using. For cloth, felt, or old clothes, you can follow this method.
1. Lay two pieces of fabric on top of each other.
2. Using chalk (or whatever works on your material), trace an outline of your poppet. Many times, this looks a bit like a gingerbread man, but if that doesn’t suit you, make it whatever shape you want.
Note: You may want to use a piece of cardboard to become a template of sorts. Then you can trace around it to make more poppets in the future and have them all be the same size and shape.
3. Cut out your fabric.
4. Add any decorative stitching to the outside of your poppet, such as red embroidery floss for a mouth or sewing on two buttons for eyes.
5. Stitch along the outside edge of your poppet and leave an opening of an inch or two. It doesn’t matter if you hand sew your poppet or use a sewing machine. Use what you’re most comfortable with. Start anywhere you want along the border of your poppet, but take into account where you plan on stuffing the poppet.
Note: Where you choose to stuff your poppet can add power to your intention. For a creativity or mental clarity spell, you might want to leave the opening by the head. For a healing spell, leave the opening nearest to the area in need of healing. For a fertility spell, leave a space between the poppet’s legs.
6. Turn your poppet inside out, so the seam is on the inside. (If you like the look of your poppet with the seam exposed, leave it as is.)
7. Once you’ve stitched your poppet, stuff it with whatever materials you’ve selected. As you add each ingredient, think about what kind of energy it will bring to your poppet.
8. Sew up the top of your poppet.
Decorating Your Poppet
Decorate your doll with markers, paint, or attaching bits of colored fabric for clothes and hair. Draw sigils on your poppet or write out your entire intention along its body. If you’re familiar with runes, draw a rune on the doll. You can also use Tarot symbols. Write the name of the card that holds the energy you’d like your poppet to take on. Traditionally, the cards in the Major Arcana are considered the most powerful. The symbols of the tarot suits (cups, pentacles, wands, or swords) may add energy to your poppet as well.
If you haven’t already added something to your poppet that connects it to the person you’re casting the spell for, do so now. This could be as simple as tying a ribbon around the doll’s waist in that person’s favorite color. In fact, if you activate your poppet properly, you can connect your poppet to the person it’s representing using energy alone.
Activating Your Poppet
There are a variety of ways you can do this, but we’ll cover the most common methods. The first step when activating your poppet is to state your intention, aloud or in your head.
Here are some examples:
If the poppet is representing you, you can say something like, “I am in perfect health and move through my life with abundant energy.”
If you’re casting a spell to manifest your ideal home, you can say something like, “I live in a two-story log cabin in the mountains of western North Carolina, and everything fell into place with perfect timing.”
For a poppet representing someone else, you can state your intention in the third person. “My mom attracts an abundance of money through unexpected channels and she uses it to enjoy a relaxing vacation in Hawaii.”
Sometimes you won’t know who your poppet is representing. This happens if your intention is to send a curse back to its sender. In that case, you can say something like, “This person who cursed me will now feel the full effect of their curse. I am free to release the energy of their curse.”
Pins, Wands, Or Athame
In secular witchcraft, pins can be used to activate your poppet. You can do this with any pin or tack, but I love the pins with the colored balls on the end so you can incorporate your personal color associations during your spellcasting.
Think of what part of the body you’d need to focus your energy on to fulfill your intention. To heal a broken heart, you might want to place a pin in the heart area of your poppet. As you do this, visualize energy moving into that one point on your poppet. Allow yourself to feel any emotions that come up as you focus all of your energy.
You can also use the tip of a wand or athame to direct energy to a specific point on your poppet’s body.
Ideal for: healing spells, manifestations associated with different body parts (Head, heart, third eye, etc)
After you’ve stated your intention, you can hold your poppet between your palms and visualize a scene from your life once your desire has manifested. If this poppet is for another person, visualize exactly what you’d like that person to experience because of your spell. In your mind’s eye, see where that person is when your spell manifests, what that person is doing, and how that person reacts to what he or she is experiencing.
Do this for about ten minutes, or until you feel you’ve fully communicated your intention and desired results to your poppet.
Ideal for: manifesting, curses, hexes, and protection spells
Creating A Poppet Altar
Arrange a few magical tools around or on top of your poppet to activate it with your intention. Crystals are an excellent choice for this. You can make your altar as simple or elaborate as you want. Sit at your poppet altar and meditate or leave your poppet on your altar until your spell has manifested.
Ideal for: any kind of poppet magic
How To Dispose Of A Poppet
If your spell is complete or you no longer need to use your poppet, you can dispose of your poppet.
First, you must separate the poppet from your own energy or the energy of the person it represents. Sprinkling salt on the poppet is one of the simplest ways to accomplish this. Remember to state your intention as you’re doing this and thank the poppet for the magical work it helped you perform.
You can say something like, “I am separate from this poppet, now and forever, and I thank it for its help.”
Then you have a few options for disposing of your poppet. You can burn it if all the materials are safe to burn. Another option is to bury the doll.
If the poppet is made of materials you found in nature, you can send the poppet down a moving body of water.
The last option is to throw your poppet out in the trash. You can cut up or disassemble your poppet if you want before doing this, but it’s unnecessary. As long as you thank and disconnect from your poppet, it’s safe to throw it out.
Note: If your poppet represents another person, I recommend you hold on to it in case you need to reverse or end that spell.
That’s all you need to get started making and using poppets in your witchcraft! Enjoy this creative magical project and consider doing this during your next full moon ritual.
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by Julie Hopkins
Julie Hopkins is a writer, yoga teacher, and founder of Power Within, a whimsical online space created to help others improve their lives with magic. She’s from Chicago, but spends most of her time traveling to cool places.
Julie discovered the world of magic after she got tired of reading personal development books and hearing the same ideas over and over. Looking for a new way to grow, Julie started experimenting with tarot cards and felt an immediate connection to her intuition in a way she’d never experienced before. After that, she began studying magic in all its forms, never looking back. When she’s not writing about witchy things, you can find Julie making candles, daydreaming, and playing with other people’s dogs and babies.