Walk down any street in the French Quarter, and you’re likely to be greeted with gift shops selling little cloth “Voodoo” Dolls and pins that can be used to “cast spells.”
But here’s the thing. Those dolls aren’t actually used how many of us think they are. What’s the truth?
Vodou originated in West Africa at least 6,000 years ago, and today there are over 60 million followers. Contrary to popular belief, dolls are not a major part of the religion. Vodou practitioners don’t use dolls to cast spells OR get revenge.
#2: Western Profits
The dolls you see in gift shops are poor representations of religious objects called minkisi. Made by spiritual leaders, these vessels are used to hold spirits, medicines, or sacred space. Unlike the souvenirs in gift shops, they aren’t evil or used to hurt others
#3: Spiritual Uses
So what are Vodou dolls actually used for? Generally, the dolls are used to protect and communicate with the spirits of ancestors, heal ailments, or ward off people seeking to hurt others.
From their inception, Vodou dolls have helped us honor our ancestral roots. They remind us to avoid buying into white supremacy’s appropriation, exploitation, and negative portrayal of them – and Black culture generally – as evil!
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