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The word poppet is an older spelling of puppet, from the Middle English popet, meaning a small child or doll. In magick these dolls can be used as a focus and become a sympathetic representation of a person, i.e. Sympathetic Magick. This particular type of magick normally comes with more negative views than almost any other, people think of the Voodoo doll, and negative images that come with it thanks to television. However, the use of dolls in sympathetic magick goes back several millennia. Back in the days of ancient Egypt, the enemies of Ramses III (who were numerous, and included some of his harem women and at least one high-ranking official) used wax images of the Pharoah, to bring about his death.
In witchcraft, a poppet is a doll made to represent a person, for casting spells to help or hex that individual. These dolls may be fashioned from such materials as a carved root, grain or corn shafts, a fruit, paper, wax, a potato, clay, branches, or cloth stuffed with herbs. The intention is that whatever actions are performed upon the effigy will be transferred to the subject based in sympathetic magick. In most cases the poppets used in Wicca are used for positive effects such as healings, love, happiness and they can also be used for bindings (only if necessary).
Now your Poppet must be infused or programmed to resonate with a specific individual and purpose such as; love, healing, protection, binding or cursing. What you use to craft your Poppet is the first step, you need to know your mediums.
First is Clay: More permenant than paper, not as permenant as metal or stone, and still cheap enough and non-toxic enough to use for offerings that you might choose to bury in the earth or offer to the water. Clay works as a valuable tool because in the creation of this Poppet you truly are forced to make use of all four elements. Many people feel that connection to the Earth in the Christian Creation Myth, Man was crafted by God from red clay which is of the Earth, which requires Water to be shaped, baked which requires Fire, and given the breath of life as Air. This connection has deep meaning for many people. Balanced and strong, while not being the easiest to work with it is possibly the best.
Second is Cloth: Easily disposed of and easily crafted these are fast to make and fun to customize. Felt, cotton, or muslin is suitable, but so is fabric from the subject's old shirt or any piece of clothing. Green eyes? Dark hair? This is where you add those details. Right sides together, sew the shapes together, leaving a good sized hole to stuff it with herbs, nail clipping, the intended's blood or hair. To pair it with the target. This Poppet is the most popular because of the ease and speed in its creation, not to mention selecting items and herbs to fill it with is a lot of fun.
Third is Paper: This can be a Photo, a piece of paper with hand writing on it or a cutout effigy. The easiest of all. Write the name of the person for whom you're making your poppet on the paper. Draw your sigils and any other distinguishing signs. This is a very quick, yet surprisingly effective alternative to putting hours into poppet design. Anoint the paper with herbal oils corresponding to your spellwork. For the emergencies or impromptu spells. This works the very best if you are planning of sacrificing your Poppet to Fire.
Fourth is Root or Wood: Several herbal roots and wood are very well suited for Poppet Magick. Of course, there is the mystical mandrake. This wo/man-shaped root has been used for centuries in sympathetic magick, especially love magick. To activate a dried mandrake, place it on the altar undisturbed for three days. Then place it in warm water overnight. The root will then be activated and ready for any magickal purpose. A human shaped mandrake root is going to be very expensive. Substitute ash roots, apples, root of the briony, or the American may apple if the cost is prohibitive. Ginseng root has a human shape, and is especially good for rotection, love, and healing spells though not necessarily inexpensive Ginseng may be more readily available if you have access to a Chinese herbalist.
Fifth is Wax: Heat your Wax until the wax can be easily shaped, shape your poppet. Oils, herbs, and personal effects (hair, nails) should be kneaded into the wax. Incorporate as many features of the person as you can. Build, and any distinguishing features will help. This is the power behind a wax effigy. When the figure is shaped, place a representation of the heart in the chest area. This can be a piece of resin, a small piece of stone or item that represents the heart. You can also rub an oil that corresponds to your magickal intent on your hands as you shape the poppet. Rose if it's a love poppet. Patchouli for a prosperity poppet. Any oil that you would incorporate into the spell would be appropriate. While it may be effective a good Wax Poppet can take hours to craft, will not biodegrade if burried or placed in water, because it may be very difficult to destroy it is only recommended for long term or permanent acts of Magick.
It is important to note that not everyone is comfortable with the thought of you working magick, even if it is your work to help and not to harm. Whenever possible the subjects of healing should be aware of your "Prayers" but it is not always alright for them to know the nature of your prayers. Which is why you may need to make use of your Poppet in works of healing wrather than simply gathering at the loved ones side and annointing them and entoning in circle arround them. When working a protection charm the subject being protected may not want your help (think domestic violence). When working a love spell your effigy may not have a name and just be an unknown partner, you certainly would not want that future lover to know that you called out to the universe for them and the universe said yes.
One of the oldest tenet's of witchcraft is "To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Keep Silent." Often part of the oaths one may take upon entrance to the craft and is particularly aimed at the practice of magick. We are not an organization that espouses in secrecy or supports actively hiding away within the metaphorical broom closet, just the need to recognize the right and the wrong; place, time and person.