“I wanted a doll that would remind him of who he really is, and oh my goodnes, I could not have orchestrated it more perfectly myself! When Lachlan saw his doll he was beside himself with excitement. He then started connecting with the doll and looked at me and said… “Hey Mum, this doll is ME. It is a wizard, just like me. It has a dinosaur tooth, and I love dinosaurs. It has nature, and I like nature. It has green, and green is my favourite colour, and it was made in Sherbrooke forest, and we love Sherbrooke forest!”
Wizard spirit doll made for Lachlan’s 9th birthday
Recently I received this beautiful message after creating the spirit doll you see above for a little boy. To know that a doll has made a child feel this way is all the confirmation and praise I need.
The spirit doll is an ancient being familiar and beloved to many cultures around the world. I believe in the healing of enchantment – to weave life and love into creation by making it solely by hand with pure and natural fibres. This act of creation is not something outside of us but a natural gift to birth and weave a bridge to the source, to our ancestors and to our own spirit – the dreamer within the dream. The process of dollmaking is simple and slow and passes through my own hands in each step – from fossicking in nearby Sherbrooke Forest for plant medicines from the forest floor, creating personal medicine bundles that become the belly of the doll and weaving her or him into existence with one tool only – the felting needle. With one needle I work thousands of tiny fibres over many hours binding and forming the shape of a doll that becomes a friend. I then adorn her with natural fibres gathered from around the world and often in support of helping endangered and rare animals to thrive, plant I found around my forest home and crystals.
At the moment I am writing a little book about the magic of the spirit doll. It’s a hard one to put into words. People often ask me how to ‘use’ a spirit doll and I have come to understand that a doll is always personal, there are no rules. They are holders and vessels for love, for healing and for your intentions. They can be powerful links to ancestors, especially when adorned with sacred family treasures. A doll can help you to access the child within, help you face your deepest fears and when placed beside your bed they can have a strong presence in your dreaming.
And the spirit doll can become a mirror or a bridge to a powerful part of yourself that you might not always be able to express or feel – but you’re getting there! Essentially I feel like a spirit doll is a friend and the more time you spend with this friend the more you love them. Perhaps you begin to tell the doll the secrets that you hold in your heart and cannot share with others. Here is a doll that helped me overcome my own fear. The doll lives with you daily – through good times and bad – the doll is always accepting. And then a funny thing happens – you realise that this friend is also a part of you, perhaps the most deepest and honest part of yourself. And this little vessel has become a being that knows you so well and accepts you completely. Then, that love that you have for this little doll begins to flow back to yourself. You see that you are also a beautiful, magical and creative being. You heal yourself.
Thank you Nadia Turner for this drawing of Fox and I in our dollmaking!
I feel like I am at the very beginning of a long apprenticeship in the craft of dollmaker. I’m grateful to the lineage of ancestral doll makers of the past and for the opportunities to pass this craft on to future dollmakers. And while I am still trying to find the words to describe the ancient connection that humans have always felt for the doll, I have been looking at vintage photographs of children and their beloved dolls and gathering images on Pinterest. It might just be me, but I am starting to see that all dolls are medicine.
SPIRIT DOLLS AWAITING NEW KEEPERS
You can request your own personal spirit doll to hold your dreams, animal totems and plant medicine guardians or check at this page each week to see if there are any dolls available to purchase. Each week we will create one or two dolls that will be available to everyone. You can also watch the process and walk in the forest with us on our Instagram and Facebook pages where you will often see the doll coming to life.
Love from Sherbrooke Forest, Julia + Tony + Fox