These Dolls Aren’t Just Child’s Play, They’re Spiritual Tools

Not all of our spiritual gestures have to be grand. Within many Afro-Diasporic traditions something as simple as gifting someone a doll can be seen as the utmost sign of respect. Just look at Xhosa women and their powerful Ndebele dolls.

These Dolls Aren’t Just Child’s Play, They’re Spiritual Tools
Wikimedia Commons

The Xhosa people in South Africa hold a deep respect for the Ndebele doll. In the rite of passage ceremony marking their transition into womanhood, girls receive an Ndebele doll.

Decorated with rings, wool fabric, and beaded clothing, the Ndebele doll celebrates womanhood and works to manifest a successful marriage. The next Ndebele doll the young women receive will be from a suitor. 

When the time comes for courtship, a Xhosa man places an Ndebele doll outside the home of the woman he’s seeking to marry. This shows the woman and her family that he is serious about pursuing her. 

After accepting the proposal, the woman takes the gifted Ndebele doll, names it, and cares for it as if it were her child. This is her way of working with Spirit to manifest the child she will have in the future.

Once that child is born they’re named after their mother’s Ndebele doll.

Ndebele dolls serve as both a rite of passage and as a spiritual manifestation. What traditions do you have, or would like to create, that could have a similar purpose?

There are numerous Afro-Diasporic dolls and other traditions we can incorporate into our spiritual practices as a way to honor ancestors while manifesting abundance, love, and continuation of our powerful bloodlines.

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