New Moon Spirit Dolls — The Journey of Design
by Silver RavenWolf
I don’t know why I started designing these Spirit Dolls. Maybe it was watching Lord Thorn quietly sew together a ritual robe for his friend by hand the other week.
“Why aren’t you using a sewing machine?” I asked.
He smiled. “I don’t have one. Besides, I find stitching it by hand more fulfilling.”
I thought about that. There is a special kind of contemplative joy in working magick while stitching something by hand. Too, the end product always seems to have more power.
Or, maybe it was because I wrote the article on conjuring bags and my mind simply stepped to the next level. Or, perhaps a book I was looking at on found object art at the local crafting store sent the creative part of me whirling…whatever the reason, I sat one night at the dining room table not long after my conversation with Lord Thorn and began to doodle on a piece of graph paper.
The doodle grew. Changed shape. I pulled out another piece of paper and began to build. I thought about magick and about how spirit dolls have helped people for thousands of years in many cultures. I realized such dolls take shape from the depths of their maker’s creativity, fashioned from natural objects to plastic pieces, taking on their own persona. Over the centuries, dolls have brought comfort and joy, magick and laughter…and, yes, in some cases dolls straddled the line from delightful to creepy to downright scary.
I thought about how the souls of the dolls begin with a spark of thought, and expand into the material world. That spark can contain healing and love, or hate and fear. Each doll has a purpose that becomes a reflection of our society in the moment of its birth. Every doll has a story, particularly the handmade ones. Over time dolls from the past tell the current generation of happiness and good times, of challenge or heartbreak.
Have you ever held an antique doll and truly adored it? Or, was there one you refused to touch because it seemed…so…gosh! Yuck!
I am not a “doll” person. Yeah, I like them okay. I had dolls when I was a kid. Played with Chatty Cathy, Barbie (born the same year as I — not funny), and Susie-Smart. My heart, however, went to Lamb Chop — the puppet, though I never got one. But, I digress.
As I ruminated over the nature of dolls, I wrote. As I visualized, I designed. The words spilled from my mind onto the paper. For the past thirty years I’ve been striving to mix magick and reality into a single vehicle — to make every moment of my life a welcoming place for mystery and enchantment and to share those bits and pieces with those who chose to listen. To me, life would be utterly boring without the mystical, the magickal, the knowing that the impossible is just a thought away…
As I designed the first doll, her name came immediately to me — Mama Magick. What sort of doll would I want sitting on my altar? What energy would I like to feel? I decided to use the hour glass shape for two reasons — the idea of birth (and the infinity sign) and that the belly of the Mother contains the birth of our universe. The belly of this doll would hold herbs, charms, and trinkets to her purpose. I held my hands over my notes, closed my eyes, and visualized the essence of this doll.
Once I finished the creative design process, I dug through my stash of crafty stuff to find embellishments for the doll. I realized that there wasn’t any limit to what I could put on the doll nor was there any “right” or “wrong”. She would be as she was meant to be, I just had to build her.
First, let’s take a look at my initial drawing and thought process. These are the original pages, now housed in my Book of Shadows.
The pictorial journal below closely follows my original notes.
I’d never constructed a fabric doll before, so this was a new experience for me. Being a perfectionist, it was very hard for me to just let go and let the doll “become”; but, I overrode my itch for perfect and let the bohemian take over. During the entire process I blended magick with physical labor, savoring the crafty procedures right along with the magickal applications. At each step I concentrated on the soul of the doll — Her ultimate purpose — that spark that I wanted to share with others.
When I finished Mama Magick, I went on to complete two more dolls — Mama Fortune and Mama Transformation, changing the pattern of each just a little bit. For example, Mama Fortune has a wider dress body. Mama Transformation has a flat edge to the bottom of her dress and a rounder head. Along the way, I experimented with the face. Mama Magick has traditional doll eyes that I found in the bottom of my sewing basket. Mama Fortune has button brads for her eyes. Mama Transformation has no face, as the face of transformation belongs to her eventual owner.
The hair was my final challenge on each doll. For the first and third dolls, I used crochet chains. The second doll (Mama Fortune) I sewed most of the yarn strings into the seam of the doll, then topped this with a finished crochet chain after the doll was stuffed.
I also changed sewing techniques a bit. With Mama Magick, I hand stitched the entire doll. Mama Fortune, on the other hand, was put together with a sewing machine and hand stitching. Mama Transformation has a lot of hand embroidery. I found I actually preferred the hand stitching even though it took longer. For all three dolls I did most of the embellishing on the front of the doll before actually putting the doll together, making sure that I didn’t place any embellishment into or over the seam allowance (I used 1/4 inch).
The final test with any of my projects lies with my children. Like a kid myself, I often show them things I’ve done, prefaced with, “I need you to be totally honest — if you hate it, tell me so.” When I showed the dolls to my youngest daughter, I received a resounding, “Mom, these are cool!”
When I showed them to my oldest daughter she said, “Mom?” (pause) “These are…creepy.”
She ran her hand over the box. “But, I want one.”
What do you hear?
Note: If you have more ideas for Spirit Dolls, or would like to share pictures on my author page, please feel free to do so. Below you will find pictures of all three patterns used.
Oh, wait. How do you activate the dolls? I’m so glad you asked. You merely…
stick a pin in them, then…
Make a wish.
107 thoughts on “How To Make A Spirit Doll — The Journey of Magickal Design”
These dolls are soooooooo gorgeous! I LOVE them all, but I feel especially drawn to Mama Transformation. Her colors are sumptious! Thank you so very much for posting these magically crafty articles. They are a visual feast. 🙂
i Just love this…as i was reading i thought about what lord thorn said and i understand because when i stitch dolls for my grandkids or crochet them a blanket..each stitch has a blessing attached to it…love , health , wealth and happiness..i enjoy sewing by hand too.
i forgot to say thank you very much for sharing this idea..
I love these dolls, do u at all make and sell thses, i dont have a sewing eye at all, was just wondering:) Thanks!
I loves these dolls, but dont have a sewing eye at all, do you make and sell them: Thanks:)
Absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much for the pictures of each step! I am a visual person and having pictures to reference makes a HUGE difference! I would love to try and make one of these one day!
So often we elevate others and think that we cannot do the things they do. Seeing that you took notes and drew your ideas on plain old grid paper and that you brainstorm like the rest of us, makes me realize that I can do this and other projects like it!
Thanks again for being the amazing teacher you are, and taking the time to show us in plain and simple steps, your process from conception to completion!
I am a visual person, too. Sometimes, I look at instructions and read them over and over again, thinking, what the heck are they trying to say here? Also, I know we have blog visitors who do not speak English. I’m hoping the pictures help them to do the crafts, too. And yep, I love graph paper, lol.
Thank you and happy Fat Tuesday! = )
Beee-autiful!!! I shall be taking pictures, but it might be a little later, school’s keepin’ me busy..*lol*
(((HUGS))) Thanks for being so active again!!!
Blessed wishes always!
I love these! they have such a look to them, I’m actually thinking of making one for my mom for mother’s day since she’s the one who introduced me to the craft.
What a wonderful idea for your mom!
Wow – thank you so much for sharing this – and in so much detail. I want to run out and make one (or two. Or three). I am not very creative, nor can I really sew… but jeepers, I am INSPIRED.
I have made at least two poppets before, each taking approximately four hours a piece. You’re right; hand stitching seems so powerful. I know I fell into a trance state as I stitched up the sides.
I love the idea of these. You’ve got my mind churning! Thanks!
You can do it! Just get in the zone and flow with it.
These are very cool looking. I don’t know if I’d try to attempt them as I am emphatically NOT a crafts type person (I’m more a writer than a crafter) but I agree they look great and I love the buttefly on Mama Transformation, because they are absolutely the emblem of transformation. Since you asked for ideas maybe you would make a Mama Health or Mama Success. I love looking at your craft ideas, even if I’m not sure I’d try them. Thank you again for sharing them and keep them coming. Happy Fat Tuesday and Blessed Be!
I am no seamstress. If I can do this, you can, too! Go ahead. Jump in! Try it!
These are AWESOME!!! I really am pulled to Mama transformation. Just the other week I saw sugalite for the first time and fell in love with it. Beautiful work!!
Found the sugalite at the bottom of a box that I was cleaning out for the release challenge. A very pretty gemstone!
OMGoddess what a great share. Iam with a group in yahoo and we make goddess dolls and swap them in the mail. these are perfect. you are always kind hearted and shre you crafts…when I was in my space one time I shared a ritual and you like it so much you asked me if you could use it. and I said that I would be so honored.but it has been so long and this witchie mind it getting old. yea I am an old crone of 60. well thanks again. love,light and peace.
Patty Curtis,Rhode Island
I remember! So good to see you here!
I love Mama Magick. I think they are a little creepy, but they remind me of my first VooDoo doll. She scared me until I got used to her, then I thought she was awesome. Mama Transformation doesn’t give me a creepy vibe, oddly, I think it might be the lack of face. Seems like it’d be the other way, doesn’t it? Are these going to end up in your Etsy shop?
Yes, I put them up in the Etsy shop. You and my daughter thought the very same thing, lol.
good morning: I am going to be making one of y our spirit dolls today.looks like fun.
Patty C Rhode Island
Can’t wait to see it! Post it on my Facebook author page, if you like.
Thanks! And thank you for all the healing work you do! You are marvelous!
oooooh! These are so cool Silver! I’ll definitely be making some of these!
I love these, especially the purple one! I do all my stitching by hand too; I no longer own a sewing machine… well because I gave up on them LOL apparently me and sewing machines don’t get along. Now if only I could get into the crafting mood (sigh). Fabulous post Raven! I love love love your crafty posts!
One of these days a craft will speak to you that will get your fingers itching. It just has to be the right one for you.
Love these, and what a fantastic idea! Can’t wait to get started on my own!!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing these with us!
If you like, post the ones you make on my Facebook author page!
I´m 44 years old, but the teenager inside of me does love these !!!!
I’m so glad!
These are the most beautiful and amazing looking dolls and the instructions are great with so many pictures!! I love Mama Magick the best. I will defintely make one of them but perhaps later in the year. Still dealing with the hassle of the house move. Slowly but surely things are coming together and I just made a Braucherei Protection Amulet last week. Thank you again for all the wonderful posts. I LOVE your blog!!
Love and Blessings
Thanks, Valerie! Soon everything will settle nicely at the house!
I cant wait to create my muma dolls, you are so in tune with us all..bless your creativaty and gift of sharing, youre a treasure silver:)
Thank you, Marie.
I ABSOLUTELY love these dolls. What a great idea. I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, unfortunately. But it doesn’t stop me from trying. I think it is the intent not the looks that is the real magick. I also like the idea for Mama Healing and Mama Sucess. Also, perhaps, a Mama Protection. How about a pet protection, etc. one? Thank you for the details. That really helps. You are teriffic.
Blessings and hugs.
You don’t need a bit of crafty expertise, just the desire to create. You’ll be amazed at what you can do!
Marlene I love your idea about pet protection. I’m sure if there is a pattern out there for these dolls (or if not maybe our dear talented Silver can make one?) then there might be one for dog and cat shapes so that dolls could be made for our beloved pets such as protection and healing. Anyone else have ideas on those lines?
Yes! One for pet protection would be wonderful.
I’m working on that one now. Hope to have the pattern finished soon to post.
I have been making elaborate beaded spirit dolls for about 12 years and they are so much fun. You can even make them small and wear them as jewelry. I enjoyed your thoughtful blog post, so many times these ideas cycle and recycle. Your take on the process is wondrous. I was going to post one of my dolls for you to see but couldn’t figure out how to! I have added your patterns to my stash of shapes, and am thinking of making them much smaller, about 4 inches tall, and covered with beading. Always great to read your blog! BB!
We would all love to see your dolls! My Facebook Author page is on the right of the screen. Just click to go there and you can simply upload the photos.
As a single gal, I just thought of a great one for me: Mama Matchmaker!
I love that! What a great idea!
Silver, once again, you have outdone yourself! These are wonderful! I want to get started on mine right away but…I have to learn to sew first! Thank you so much for sharing all of these great things with us!
Sewing is super easy! Once you try it, you will love it!
Talented, open-hearted lady, thank you so much for this blog! For me it represents so much more than a crafts project or spell work. It’s like a piece of my lost homeland and a kind of trusting innocence that was lost as well.
When I was little there was a spiritualist in the neighborhood with a beautiful black doll she called Mama Inez. I was pre-kinder and hadn’t learned to write yet but I’d compose letters and petition her in my childlike gibberish and tuck these into her skirt. When I saw the incantations you wrote in the Mama Spirit Doll I suddenly remembered Mama Inez and how I once had unflagging faith that my prayers, whatever they were, would be answered. Recovering the memory in itself is already an answered prayer!
So while I’ve never made a doll and it’s going to take a trip to the fabric and craft stores to pick up the supplies, Silver, you better believe I’m going to fashion a Mama Spirit Doll of my own!
The photos, by the way, are particularly helpful, making the instructions and materials real accessible. You’re a great teacher!
Thank you so much for sharing the memory! It is wonderful to hear of the past and to be reminded that life is full circle! Thank you so much Tatiana!
Silver, I am not much on making dolls, but this might be fun to do. I will let you know how it works out for me.
We’d love to hear!
These are so cute 🙂
Silver, what about having a pocket on the doll’s dress or animal doll for pet’s backpack to leave petitions, prayers, requests? Tatiana said she tucked them into the dress of Mama Inez. Sounds possible, yes? That way you can change requests for help for someone else or renew the one you have already requested. I really would like your imput on this.
These are amazing!!! Just printed the oil and water candle out the other day to make for a new class I’m taking *so excited*, now I’ll HAVE to make these too!!! LOVE THEM!!! I’ll share pics of the candle and of the doll(s) when I get done!!
Please add us all to the Healing Ritual!! MDT & JMW in FL and DT & DGT in MI. Thank you SO SO SO MUCH for being YOU and for ALL that YOU DO!!!!
Much love and MANY blessings to you and yours!!!!
I just purchased them from the etsy store. They just spoke to me. 🙂 looking forward to working with them.
I saw! Am packaging them for you now. I know they will love their new home!
Wow Silver these are great! I’ve been making Spirit Dolls for years and always found it was much more fulfilling doing all the work by hand. I felt that I was putting more of myself into each one, it was more magical for me. I may just have to make one or two of your pattern, as it is different from what I make. Thanks for the inspiration!!! Love what you do for our community. Many Blessings. I also make witch dolls, a little more work but also so much fun!
Would so much love to see your dolls! I’m glad you enjoyed the article!
As always you bring light and love to your blogs, your creativity and your wisdom! Just when I needed it most. Thank you Silver, love the dolls.
THANK YOU. I got in big trouble for making a magick doll when I
was about 9 years old. When my daughter was 7yrs she had made
one all on her own. She of course, did not get punished. Before my
grandmother passed( goddess rest her beautiful soul ), she told me
that my mother did that too, as did she herself. My great grandmother
was also a witch. I have so much fun with these and they work! Thank
you so much sharing your awesome crafts!
I already started( I feel the magick already) with MAMA TRANSFORMATION. It’s like she was
already here and was waiting for me! This is so wonderful! I can feel the transforming energy
within and that began as soon as I started thinking about making her. Blessed Be, Lady Silver!!!!
I’m not a regular seamstress and don’t cut straight lines but when I do these things magically everything always turns out beautiful … Definitely going to get some items around and try my hand at making a transformation doll … Fits perfectly with my life and season right now ! Thank u for all of your creative insight and for sharing so much of your workings and crafting !
Wow! What incredible dolls! I have had fabric in my dresser for YEARS that I have been hanging onto for just *the* right craft, and this is it! I am in the midst of a major metamorpohsis in my life, and this is just right! I will also be making one for my mother, who has rejected the magick within her, but can oft be reminded of her personal power.
love all of your creations, I have some much lovely fabric at home I think I’ll give one a go this coming weekend, just not sure whether to make a cat or a goddess ❤
whatever you make will be divine!
Thank you, thank you & thank you! I’ve been wanting to create a spirit doll for some time. And I just Googled “spirit dolls” and your site came up. I am so excited! Now, I can finally “birth” my spirit doll that has been asking to be created. Your design seems so simple, but it has greatly inspired me. blessings to you.
Ever so welcome!
These are absolutely lovely Silver Ravenwolf. I think they are just beautiful and I really do like the idea of actually putting the energy and magick sown into the very doll. A wonderful idea you have came up with.
I love these, do you sell them?
Love your Spirit dolls! I’m going to make my own some day, hope mine turn out as beautiful.
What a great idea! I can’t wait to do this with my grand daughter. I have many beautiful clothes or fabric that are either worn in places or have sentimental value. I didn’t want to throw them away and have hung onto some of them for over 30 years. I can definitely use some of them for these dolls. Thanks for sharing.
I am so happy you enjoyed the post. I’m currently working on a new spirit doll. Take a pic so we can see your dolls!
Pretty amazing, I think this is a doable project.
Reblogged this on nikkielefaye's Blog and commented:
These are lovely 🙂
Thank you for sharing this Beauty
Ever so welcome!
this is by far the BEST how-to guide for making spirit dolls. Thank you.so much for sharing. Brightest of blessings! Sandra
I’m delighted you enjoyed it!
Thank you so much for posting this! I love the step by step instructions and that you were willing to share your outlines. I was at a loss on how to start sketching my Spirit Doll but I hope that after I start with your outlines my creative juices will get unblocked and start flowing again. Thanks so much!!
So um yeah I’m making these!!
We are Christian… But we believe in the power of your own mind an heart. My 10 yo found meditation to be very helpful for her. She is homeschooled an gets frustrated sometimes. 10min of meditation clears her head, calms her, an helps her focus.
She likes her worry dolls, but often loses the little guys. I think these would be fantastic for her. Adding the chakras inside or out!!!
Doesn’t matter what faith you are — what matters is what you do with it.
Silver thank you for the great inspiration you have given me,I am new to beading and I love it, you have given me the kick start for Spirit Dolls that I have been looking for, thanks to you I now know the direction I have been looking for, I am eternally grateful, and will see you on face book. Bless you
How wonderful! I know you will create most beautiful things!
That looks really nice. I just hope I can do that with two left thumbs! I am not too good with stitching but ,I can always try.
How about a Momma Healing for ailing and sick people? Sewing in healing prayers and soothing thoughts. Just an idea that popped in.
Nice! Excellent idea!
Hi, I have a question regarding the transformation doll. This doll represents us and whatever happens to the doll happens to us. What would happen if someone were to get a hold of this doll. How can we prevent anyone from doing harm to the us through the doll?
They are beautiful! Love them..
Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing all this… many wouldn’t. Just what I’ve been looking for which includes the meaning surrounding a spirit doll. Umm… excuse my ignorance though… who is Lord Thorn? 😦
Lord Thorn is of the Sybil Leek Tradition — he’s a good friend.
I love your spirit dolls. I will be making some in the near future. I’ve searched your site for your activation fluid. I can not find it anywhere. Can you direct me in the right direction.
Dancing Goddess Dolls – Kelli has been doing this for close to 20 years. They’re amazing. She also does custom dolls. Similar in design.
Wow I will need to try this thank u xxx
Reblogged this on SandraJ.today and commented:
I’ve always wanted to make my own spirit dolls, but the task just seemed overwhelming. But now? Silver Raven Wolf has outlined her entire process for us, including patterns. I can’t wait to get started? I may not stay true to her design, but that’s the whole point – she has given me the tools and ideas to get started creating my own spirit dolls. Enjoy.
I love this DIY Tutorial and I just got a new sewing machine, what a first project ~~~ THANKS~ I saw this on Pinterest! Smiles, Cyndi
I’ve been toying with making a/some spirit dolls and I loved what you said about your process, embellishing her body, adding words, charms, letting go of perfectionism and letting her take shape and form on her own. That is very instructive and freeing. I love too your guidance about how and what to fill with. I’m inspired and very grateful that you shared all this. Thank you!! ❤
Ever so welcome! Did you make some?
How do you charge them