Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Can You Kill Yourself With a Voodoo Doll?

A while ago I was asked if it's possible to kill yourself with a voodoo doll of yourself. Here was my answer:

There are folks who make voodoo dolls of themselves (usually for positive reasons... not all voodoo dolls are used for evil.) Assuming you made the doll correctly, I suppose there's possible ill effect that could come of maltreating it -- in theory anyway. You'd have to be deliberately trying to harm yourself. (And note that 'insanity' was a common effect of old-time claimed to come from use of voodoo dolls... and you'd probably have to be a bit insane to want to do this to begin with.)

[... D]espite what Hollywood shows, actions on voodoo dolls, even traditionally, are not usually believed to be instantaneously effected nor necessarily literally effected. For example: if you cut off a voodoo doll's leg it doesn't mean that the victim's leg just suddenly falls off. Traditional accounts state that the victim's leg starts developing symptoms that gradually render the leg useless or may require it to be amputated.)

So for example, doing something like putting a doll of yourself into a blender with the deliberate and sincere intent that you should kill yourself from this action (and that this isn't just about destroying the doll in some way) would probably at most yield a long and gradual illness that would eventually destroy your body's ability to operate.

A traditional thing to do with voodoo dolls was to bury them in graves or cover them in blood to work their effects. In these cases the dolls might not even necessarily be 'destroyed' or 'injured' but it was rather the treatment -- mimicking a desired situation -- that was believed to bring the hoped-for curse.

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