Let me take you on one of my patented rides down memory lane.
I was five. My father was stationed in northern California (I’m a Navy brat). Somehow I got ahold of the TV remote.
The movie I managed to find was Magic with Anthony Hopkins.
To rely on Internet slang- my mind was blown, bricks were shat, and I was given my first phobia in the space of a 5 minute clip (maybe it was longer, but that’s all I really remember). The idea that a doll could make people hurt other people? Even kill them? That was literally too much for my mind to handle.
Even now, I think that’s a pretty heavy concept.
There’s something about tiny little (anthropological) fetishes that drives people crazy. How many times do people reference voodoo dolls? Remember Chucky? The fact that there was even a movie to spawn reoccuring nightmares for the next decade says a lot (I said that the scars of that movie run deep).
I like poppets.
Poppets are cool.
(…random dr who reference).
Poppets are what voodoo dolls want to be.
A poppet is a doll, generally about the size of an adult hand though that’s not set in stone, made for a distinct purpose. The point here is that it’s a) handcrafted and b) made with intent.
Poppets are used for a range of purposes. Sometimes treated as a form of sympathetic, they take on the purpose of the oft-quoted voodoo doll; the doll can stand in for an intended individual. What happens to that doll is supposed to extend into the person it’s representing. In some cases the doll can be charged to protect the entirity of the hearth that it’s placed within. It’s slightly more uncommon but not unheard of for the poppet to be an actual protective ward, charged with a particular job to respond to- for example, if the hearth is suspected to be under attack from an entity, the doll can be used to respond to that energy by packing it with specific items or herbs.
Kachinas are technically spirits who if treated with respect, can create effects in the world around them. Kachinas are not gods, but they do hold a major place in the Hopi cosmology (among others). With over 400 identified, they can represent everything from elemental forces to animals and other natural features. A similar idea would be animism, where inanimate and/or natural features such as geological formations have souls.
Kachina dolls were used to teach children the various kachinas. Each doll represented a different kachina and were used to familiarize the next generation with the role of each.
Also referred to as Peach Festival, Hinamatsuri is held on March 3rd in Japan. The holiday is held to ask for the safety and success of young girls. It is suggested that it is linked to historical beliefs surrounding the ability of dolls to absorbed and hold onto negative spirits- at one point dolls where actually placed on mats and floated down rivers until it began to negatively impact fishing practices.