If you think you know what to do with a poppet, you haven’t read Denise Alvorado’s Voodoo Doll Spellbook. Alvorado really knows what to do with a poppet, and her list of ideas is extensive. From hexing to healing, to changing luck in love or wealth, the Voodoo Doll spell book has a formula for any spiritual need a body might need. Make no mistake about it: anything you create guided by this book… is personal.

Anchored in Conjure/Hoodoo tradition, this book explores the making of paper poppets, use of poppets in Goetia, and a history of dolls in magic that suggests sympathetic magic might be close to a cultural universal.

What makes this book especially useful is Alvorado’s generous thoroughness. She includes recipes for oils and waters within the text, reprints the Psalms so you can just have the book open as you work, and includes some beautiful illustrations in the text of the diverse, creative approaches that anyone can take to making a Voodoo doll.

It is important to note for frequent readers of Facing North that Alvorado’s work is not Wiccan or neopagan; the completely different cultural context creates a completely different ethical standard. Hoodoo/conjure evolved in diasporic North American, South American, and Caribbean cultures (anywhere slaves lived) – the greatest struggles were with human beings that dehumanized them and so treated their lives casually. Most of Wiccans and Neopagans practice faith and magic inspired by ancestral faiths where the largest struggle was with the elements of nature (especially winter). Magic evolves as a means of ensuring survival. In cultures where people must survive slavery, treated as though their feelings and experiences are not real, the main threats to survival are the people with all the power. This means that Conjure/Hoodoo will have magical practices that most neopagans consider taboo: death of enemies, revenge spells, and domination magic. These spells exist because it was the only way to survive. Those that practice Conjure do not engage in these works lightly.

This book is highly recommended for the following: people that are called to Conjure/Hoodoo, and those with a fascination with American folk magic.

~ review by Diana Rajchel

Author: Denise Alvarado
Weiser Books, 2014
pp. 199, $21.95