I started making spirit dolls from an impulse of finally doing something with all those gnarly bits-of-wood-that-almost-look-like-something that I kept picking up for reasons unknown. They came out really well, and indeed started to come alive in a startling way. After a while Spirit suggested that I make dolls specially to help people. Of course I said that I’d love to. And so I started on a new journey with them, far more profound & personal than I could ever have expected.
The past half year or so has seen me on a course of deep personal transformation. It is only in hindsight that I see how the spirit dolls have been an expression of this journey, indeed have been prophetic of the stages I needed to go through. And so they have become another instance of how I turn my own inner work into medicine for others. If that sounds solipsistic so be it. That is how I work, I have no other way of doing it.
Hand of Power, Hand of Glory
This one I made as an expression of how the witch unifies left & right handed work. But it turned out to be so much more. Strong protection against interfering spirits. A change agent. A kind of spirit radio, receiving & transmitting messages. Has been in my dreams a lot, as big as a menhir, as a luminous faerie being, as a Hand of Fate. As a prophecy I should have been warned that I was about to get slapped around! And that indeed there is no light without dark. What a friend this one has been throughout, and only getting stronger.
This datura root wanted to be a Gorgon’s head. I gave it one, and then lay it aside for a while as I usually work on several dolls at a time. But also because she made me slightly uneasy. I was unsure what she was for. As it turned out, she definitely was telling me to look at my own Shadow face. Datura after all shows us with painful precision where we have been deluding ourselves.
And this did become abundantly clear not long after, causing me to question my whole practice both as a witch & a diviner, chucking out my altars, giving myself a good hiding, and starting over.
So I shouldn’t have been too surprised when she wanted to be a mirror, and requested the Algol sigil painted in spirit ink. It appears that this idea of combining a mirror with Algol was already practised in the Renaissance, which I only found out afterwards. The mirror instantly served as a protector, guarding my head. Taking a hit for me even as I was working on her.
The Dreamer of the Abyss
This one I did not understand at first. Too many tails, too many heads! Until I just started to work on her, and I realised that that was exactly the point. A Scylla like figure, but at peace. I am one, I am whole. Monsters grow out of me & we are One. She exudes such calm despite the gruesomeness that’s part of her. Light at the bottom of the Abyss.
The Dreamer helps with integration of the Shadow, recollection & acceptance of trauma, self-forgiveness. Her energy is very deep, and can be disturbing to the unwary. But her gifts are profound, spiritually & therapeutically. I should have known I was about to face more demons, see where I had been projecting my Shadow outward, and lovingly embrace my wayward monsters.
The Mistress of the Deep
The Mistress was one of the first to arrive in this little family, and she did so with a splash. I work closely with La Sirena, and this dark version of her spoke to me a lot. She’s the undertow, the inexorable pull of the Tide, down, inward, drowning, laying to rest. The Siren as psychopomp, singing the Dead to sleep. Again, I did not know how literally I needed to take that, months before it actually happened. The depths she would take me to, ready or not. That I needed to become her.
Pegasos & Adrasteia
A few days before the Autumn Equinox I got a terrifying vision to remind me that I am a Bringer of Death. Destruction is part of my path, and apparently Spirit felt I needed a reminder.
Pan also made his presence known, and so on the Equinox itself I went to a sacred ivy-grown spot in the dunes to do a Thing for him. Of course I also picked up an odd bit of ivy wood, not sure if I even saw anything in it…
I then went on to the beach, because despite the start of Autumn the day was very summery indeed. I swam in the sea for the last time of the season, a seal keeping me company, as well as a familiar type of creep. He even had the same name as a nasty ex from long ago. Which served as a good reminder of the kind of patterns I needed to destroy.
Making my way back through the dunes I found another weird bit of wood. I almost didn’t take it, as so often happens. Funny, I thought, a winged horse. It wasn’t until some time later that it clicked into place.
The next week at the Libra New Moon I was part of a ceremony at La Botanica, in which we visited the Dark Mother in Annwn to identify shadow parts of ourselves that needed to be laid to rest. I was given to understand that both my tendency to accommodate predators & my attachment to lack had a common source.
Some of you may remember I was briefly pregnant at a very, very young age. It was the loss of this child, that until recently I didn’t even know I’d had, that kept me wanting to feed anyone who seemed in need of it. This was a devastating realisation, and yet I felt a great relief. For although the usual abusive patterns played a role as well of course, I realised the most important issue was just Love. And so that same weekend I went to a stormy beach to grieve, talking to La Sirena, asking her to help me lay this little soul to rest, giving her my tears.
It was then that the recent bits of wood suddenly starting to reveal themselves to me.
The piece of ivy wood from Pan’s grove that (believe it or not) had looked kind of shapeless to me, turned out to be a warrior goddess. She declared her name is Adrasteia, She Who Cannot Be Escaped. Which turned out to be an epithet of Nemesis, the goddess of Divine Vengeance, Protector of the Just. It is also a name for Rhea & Kybele, both Dark Mother goddesses. So then I realised why I gave her an extra breast or two.
The presence inside this natural idol just blew me away. I made the mistake of wanting to ‘fix’ her arm & so I sawed off the tip. She SCREAMED. My ear rang as if after an explosion. I hastily gave her back her hand, plus my apologies. She demanded big ears, to hear the cries of the Just & the Weak, such as children. She wanted ritual scarification in her face, as a nod to Itzpapalotl, the Aztec Goddess of the Paradise for Children. What colour eyes, I asked. A startling blue, she said. She wanted an impressive hairdo, made in loops instead of strands, for extra inescapability.
Even when I had hardly started on her she was helping me & giving me signs. At the time I was working hard to expel an intrusive entity from my auric field. One morning I found that an earwig had crawled out of her hollow head & died. When I came into the room just for laundry she remarked, I have heard your cries.
As I was preparing a ritual journey to lay to rest my child’s spirit, I received a message about the Pegasos figure. A creature of light & beauty, he is nonetheless a child of rape & violence, born from his mother Medusa’s neck stump when her head was cut off by a hero trying to prove himself. And so I could also see him as a powerful embodiment of transformation, resolution, elevation. Turning pain & darkness into beauty. Which at that moment was an enormous comfort to me.
When I started on this spirit doll I saw his mother’s Medusa’s face was there too, and the two are at One. Pegasos had been present while I was working on strengthening my light (yes I had a LOT of homework), funneling light into my head. That same head that Medusa had been so busy protecting, see above. Light & dark dancing together perpetually, transforming one another, keeping balance. The child of rape turned into Light by his Dark Mother.
And so I went back into Annwn, summoning my ancestors, a whole village full of them, and they took my son to Paradise in a whirling dance. One of the Crones from my family kindly cut the cord for me, because I was only little & I didn’t know how to do it. And then they guided me back to the exit, where I birthed the sunrise & the world, and the New Day.
I wasn’t finished however. I needed to go back one more time, and become the Devouring Mother Herself. To fulfil another task, a far more gruesome one. It was then that I realised why Adrasteia, the Inescapable, consists of ivy wood that has SWALLOWED WHOLE another bit of wood. Dark, gorgeous. Driving me to the brink.
Joybirth & Joybringer
I never conceived of these two as a pair, and yet they are obviously related. I don’t even remember when or where I found the little unicorn, I don’t have a picture of how he looked originally. But I can tell you I didn’t add anything to the wood, except give it more definition. It took me over a year to get started on him, he didn’t really speak to me, until he suddenly wanted to be made last summer.
I was actually kind of prejudiced against unicorns until he arrived. But he is such a joyous creature, whose energy lifts the spirits & eases depression, and unites & balances the crown & the root among other things.
It wasn’t until recently, some time after Joybringer went to his forever home, that unicorn energy became far more relevant to me as a result of all the work I did on my head. I realised that he was telling me even over a year ago to balance my crown & root, and everything in between. As for his phallic nature, there was healing to do for me as well of course. Probably why he gave me so much time to get to him. I had fun making him to be sure.
Between horn & tail lies the heart as well, obviously. Joybirth brings healing of the heart & root, acceptance of pleasure & lust, self-assurance, sexual healing, and things of that sort, specially but not exclusively for women. She has a beautiful, warm energy.
It’s very relevant of course that this heart is a root knot. Which I pulled out of the ground at a spot that to me is strongly connected to the healing of my root, as I only recently realised. How often I have shaken my head at myself during this whole journey because of my obtuseness to things that now seem so obvious.
The reason I conclude with these two rather than some others that are also meaningful to me, is that in the last few days I have been reminded of this gift that I have, of full body healing. Pulling down divine Love & transmitting it through my sensuality. It has cost me too much in the past, for various reasons. I am now starting to see the beauty of it again, instead of it being too raw a nerve. It’s still a process.
However, all these muddy, soggy pieces of wood that somehow had to come home with me are helping me along the way, both in the process of creating them & with their energy. May they also help you finding yours.