A gift of a doll is like giving someone a new best friend. Either we have been there ourselves or surely watched with excitement as a daughter, sister or niece opened a present of a doll. Hugs usually follow, along with a game of imagination, but is it really just a game?
Dolls can seem to take on their own personality. If we have not seen the movies, we have at least heard of the infamous Chucky and Annabelle.
These dolls seemed to hold some sort of spirit of their own. I doubt that this is hard to believe given tales of Ouija Boards (that is subject for another blog post,) poppets and other 'supposed' play things.
A Little History
There have been dolls discovered dating back to 2000 BC in Egyptian Tombs. These dolls were called Paddle Dolls. Usually they did not have arms. If they did, they were only stubs cut in addition to the shape of the paddle.
There is a debate on whether these were actual toys or companions of the deceased as they went into the underworld or used as fertility and rebirth.
African dolls date back to 8000-200 BC where they were used as children's toys, ritual objects and as messengers of their ancestors and gods.
It is important to bring up Effigy Magick where dolls were used for healing and bringing in luck. They would stick pins into the doll that resembled the person that they were trying to help. Sound familiar?
Native Americans carved faces into apples, allowing them to dry and from this would make a doll, and we must not forget our Bridget Corn dollies that Pagans and Witches have used for centuries in Imbolc Rituals.
Island of the Dolls or "Isla de las Munecas" has lent its' creepiness to TV shows and even an upcoming Thriller. Limbless dolls were collected and displayed by caretaker, Don Julian Santana Barrera. It is rumored that he left his wife and own child to create a life of his own on the tiny island. He found a drowned girl and buried her.
Either guilt set in from leaving his own family, perhaps insanity or not, a doll appeared a few days later and it felt it was a sign from the dead girls spirit. He than felt it necessary to collect dolls to keep her restless spirit calm. He went around and collected dolls that were tossed near or in the waters.
Interesting to note that Don Julian Santana Barrera met the same death of his haunter. It is said that he drowned in the exact same spot that he found the girl.
Robert the Doll
Featured in the sixth episode of the TV series Lore is Robert the Doll. Given as gift from his grandfather, Robert the doll was best friends with owner Robert Eugene Otto (called Gene). Perhaps the story behind our Chucky and Annabelle tales, Gene seemed to form an unusual bond with Robert the Doll. The relationship went on throughout Gene's adulthood.
The doll was said to move about upon its own and often blamed for the mishaps that young Gene would get into. Relatives would commit that Robert's doll expression would change if someone talked about Gene in a disregard fashion.
The doll is now 114 years old and resides at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida after its previous caretaker Myrtle Reute, said he moved around the house too much.
Robert the Doll receives one to three letters a day of fan mail. Many are from people who have taken a picture of Robert without asking. They are begging for his forgiveness as they blame him for their string of bad luck that followed.
I remember when my youngest daughter was only six, I had given her a doll called "Amazing Amy" for one of the holidays. I was so excited as it seemed to be the latest in technology. You could feed her and she would talk. It was a little more than I could afford at the time but I scrambled the funds together, hoping to make the highlight of her day.
As expected, I thought she was quite delighted with her new friend. That was until I was awakened by frightful cries in the middle of the night. She cried frantically until I removed the doll completely from her room. She begged me the next day to return it to the store and so I did.
Years seemed to pass before she would talk about "Amazing Amy." She told me that the doll scared her. It would talk to her in the night and in a little voice she said, "Mommy, it called me the B word." Even to this day, at age 23, she will get a ghostly look on her face if you mention the doll by name.
What is it about dolls that seem to frighten us so? I think a doll can and does hold energy. There is so much emotion that we give to them. Love, joy, sorrow and even hate. We tell them our deepest secrets. It is easy to think that some of this energy definitely can get trapped within them. Isn't that what we do when we make poppets? We put energy into the doll. Perhaps that is why so many find old dolls so creepy.