Craftacular Saturday with Rowan

Creating An Ancestor Doll

This simple craft is perfect for Samhain, when we commune with our Ancestors and the veil is thinnest, but it’s something you can do any time of the year. I have my Ancestor altar up year round – in my kitchen, because that’s where my grandmother and I spent most of our time together – and I have several of these dolls that come and go, as the need arises (my grandmother stays always, of course). These can be used as vessels for visiting spirits, as blessed acknowledgements of loved ones, or as an ancestoral presence on an altar.

* Ancestor dolls are vessels – or physical points of contact, if you will – to aid our loved ones when they come across. This is an old tradition in many cultures to aid in calling the spirits. Not voodoo, not dark magic. I must stress, these are not toys. However, they are a fun and easy tool to create with your children, and a great conversation about loved ones can be had when working on these together. Enjoy!

Supplies Needed (enough for 2 dolls)
- 2- 9” x 12” pieces of felt, any color (most common is black or white, but it’s completely your choice). Another idea would be to use a piece of cloth from something that belonged to a particular loved one.
- a Person Stencil printed on to cardstock (mine are genderless, but feel free to adjust yours as you’d like. Some people like to use one for male energy and one for female energy).

- Cardstock to print your Person Stencil
- an Embroidery Needle with a wide eye and a sharp tip (round tips are hard to work through)

- Embroidery Floss – color(s) of your choosing. I love to use color magic here, especially if I’m going to apply some knot magic, too. Use one, use several (I’ve included a sample color chart for you).

- a piece of chalk, or something to trace your person stencil (on dark colors, flour works in a pinch) - Stuffing Items: again, this is a personal choice. Choose herbs and items that assist in communication, remembrance, and calling spirits. 

We all have our favorites. I generally use:
Rosemary (for good memories)
Wormwood (for calling the spirits)
Dandelion Root (communing with those who have passed)
Soil from a cemetery or from a garden you’ve tended (even just the tiny plant you’ve managed to keep alive for the past year will work) is a nice addition, and even a stone that speaks to you of your loved one. A pinch or two of every item is all you need, the dolls don’t have to be stuffed full! Place together in a small bowl.

- Small strips of paper (not necessary, but a nice idea). Write your loved ones’ names on the strips, memories you have, any thoughts you’d like to keep with the doll. Roll them individually in to tight coils and put them in a bowl with the rest of your stuffing. 

Have everything you need? Let’s begin!

You’ll want to create your dolls in a peaceful area, a ritual setting or sacred space. Light candles, put music on, etc. Focus on the task at hand, and the loved ones you are crafting for.

Cut your Person out of the cardstock – now you have a stencil! Woo! The hard part is done!

Fold one piece of felt in half and trace your Person on to the felt. Cut out your shape, through both pieces. And you have a doll! If you’re making two, repeat with your other piece of felt.

Thread your needle with one strand of each color you’d like to sew with. Embroidery floss has 6 strands twisted in to one, so if you’re using more than one color, you’ll want to separate it and put single strands together, or it will be difficult to thread your needle! Knot your thread at the end. Starting at the bottom outer edge of the left leg, start sewing a simple in and out pattern – nothing fancy is needed (but get fancy if you want). Follow your person outline with your stiches, Deosil, until you get to the bottom outer edge of the right leg. The inner legs should be open for ease of inserting herb mix.

Place your stuffing bowl in front of you, and focus clearly on your intention for the doll(s). Place both hands above the bowl and bless the contents for your highest good, and ask that your purpose be pleasing to the Goddess.

Now, fill your doll with the items you’ve energized, while still keeping your intent focused (photo is over-filled, so you can see it. Not necessary to have this much inside!).

Sew up the rest of your doll, and knot the end of your thread. Trim as desired. Now is the time to do knotwork additionally, but again, not required.

Bless your doll(s). Remember to thank the Goddess and God, speak with the Ancestors, whatever you feel called to do. Place your new doll(s), and enjoy.

That’s it! You’ve done it!
Many Blessings

Toni (Rowan) is a mom, a mimi, a friend, lover and free spirit. A native of San Francisco, she currently practices her Craft on the east coast and hits the beach whenever clarity and focus are needed. A Celtic hedgewitch, she is most at home in the kitchen, the garden, or in her workshop creating teas and remedies and assorted pretty things for the shop. When not working or creating, Rowan can be found with her houseful of minions (1 girl-child, 4 boys, 1 grandboy and 1 lovely man who adores her), looking for new and exciting adventures or reading a great book. She continues the search for the perfect spot of land in Oregon to call her own, and looks forward to the day when she can Witch for a living.

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1 comment:

  1. Great article! Well written with clear instructions! I could hear you saying these words as I read it. �� Also nice to know that the doll doesn't have to be stuffed full.��


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