Tuesday 15 September 2020

Poppet Magic: Cinderella Dolls for Transformation

The start of autumn - and gloom in the news - can make us feel a bit down. Cinderella is a fairy tale about transformation, and you can use that idea to help transform your mood with some doll magic. 

My inspiration came from a Cinderella doll that my mum knitted and gave to me a long while ago. She's the larger doll in the photos. One side of the doll looks sad and is wearing rags, the other side is smiling and looking happy. Interestingly, while the popular version of Cinderella, which started with Charles Perrault’s book of fairy tales in 1697, has Cinderella’s transformation granted by a fairy godmother, in the later Brother’s Grimm version of the tale, Aschenputtel, it’s the spirit of the girl’s dead mother who materialises a beautiful dress so she can go to the ball. Many pagans will identify with calling on the spirits of ancestors to help in life. 

My own mother is sadly also long passed from the world, but when I’m feeling down, I tell all my woes to Cinderella in rags that she gave me. Then I ask my doll to work her transformation magic, to help me with my problems and resolve my woes. After that I turn her upside down to show her smiling face, and put her near me: beside my bed at night or on my desk as I work during the day. Seeing her helps cheer me up. 

You don’t need to have been given a doll. You can make – or buy – a Cinderella doll for yourself. There are patterns available to knit or sew Cinderella dolls, but you can also make a simple Cinderella poppet. A poppet is the traditional English magic name for a doll used in spellcraft. They might often look folk arty rather than professionally made, but in magic that doesn’t matter. It's the symbolism that counts, as well as the work you put into it yourself. Here’s how you can do that. 

Use a gingerbread person cookie cutter as a basic pattern or draw a similar shape freehand. However, you only need the upper half of the body shape – the head, arms and body down to just below the waist. Cut two pairs of these from felt, which doesn't fray. The finished doll will have two heads – one at either end - and two sets of arms. Make two circles the same size, ideally of stretchy fabric, to form skirts. I suggest stretchy fabric because it is easier to put over the doll. Make a hole in the centre of each skirt, just wide enough to fit as a skirt around the middle of the doll. It is easiest to loosely stitch each skirt to its end of the body before stuffing the doll halves and stitching them together at the waist. Put a frowning expression at one end and a smile on the face at the other end. 

The Cinderella poppet I made is the smaller one in the photos. For the sad side, I used blue felt to represent having the blues. I dressed her in clothes made from a worn-out navy blue sock. I made the happy side in pink felt, to represent feeling in the pink, as the saying goes. I fashioned her a ball gown bodice from ribbon I’d saved from gift wrapping. For her skirt I used silk that had been part of one of my favourite garments. It sadly got torn when I wore it to one Glastonbury Festival, but reusing the fabric reminds me that I will go dancing again. 

You can enchant your doll by casting a circle, naming her and asking her to transform your sadness into happiness and your tears into smiles. When you are feeling down, turn the doll frowning side up and tell her all your woes and problems. Spend as long as you need to do this. Then reverse the doll so the smiling face is showing. Ask your doll to help you smile then meditate with her or put her beside you and let the transformative magic change your mood.

You can find more information, and more spells, in my book Pagan Portals - Poppets and Magical Dolls, published by Moon Books.

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