Voodoo Dolls

From Louisiana

Voodoo dolls originally came from Louisiana.

Voodoo, also known as New Orleans Voodoo. Voodoo is a cluster of black magic folkways that came from the African diaspora traditions. These folk expressions of Afro-American religious customs were developed by enslaved Spanish, Creole, French and West Africans who lived in Louisiana. 


Recorded use of Voodoo doll use started in the mid-16th century following the arrival of African slaves in Haiti. Afro-American religious traditions merged with the Catholicism there and over time, this living voodoo folk art form included Catholic personalities and purposes as well as other religious influences (Hinduism, etc.). For example, some Catholic saints, such as St. Peter, are included in the voodoo. For Haitians St. Peter was also known as Papa Legba, the gatekeeper of the spirit world.

The handmade dolls were used to cure illness and disease.  It was believed that they were capable of making contact with elements of the spirit world and could bring forth healing, assistance for the needy, and, in some cases retribution. 

Louisiana Voodoo Doll Examples:

Dream Changer: Often placed near the bed, this doll aides with sleep and transforms bad dreams into beautiful ones.

Fear Remover:  This doll, often brightly colored, builds confidence.

Prankster: A string doll can be a harmless trickster that pulls funny pranks on others.

Romantic Love: A doll that resembles the one you’d like as a soulmate could help bring him/her to you.

Traffic Helper: This doll hangs from the rear view mirror and can help turn lights from red to green when you are in a hurry.


Popular  Folk Characters

Clowns often teach through laughter by exaggerating or poking fun at what otherwise is serious. This folk character is generally either good or evil and has the ability to transform the ordinary into extraordinary. They do so by elaborating and/or reversing common beliefs and expectations.

They have been around for a very long time. From ancient Egypt (2400 B.C.) to today, they have been entertaining people. Witty, funny or downright sinister, they have served very special roles in the societies where they appear. For example, the Hopi Kashari (clown) not only helps to educate children about how to behave in society, but also reports back to the weather gods who are responsible for the much-needed rain in their dry, high altitude climate, about whether or not their behavior has been acceptable.

Here is an overview of 3 basic types of clowns:

A mime is an artist who makes use of physical movements rather than speech to tell a story. This style of clown originated in Greece.

There are 4 kinds of clowns: the whiteface, the character and the auguste. They can wear over the top makeup or not. The whiteface clown is the oldest form. White paint foundation would be applied to neck and chest and then red triangles would be drawn on his cheeks and lips. The character clown has a specific role: policeman, a husband, cook, etc.  Makeup includes warts, mustaches, glasses and more. The auguste (also known as red clown) is more often than not adored with over the top stripes and polka dots on his costume. This clown is often the one being making fun of.

A jester was expected to amuse or entertain a lord or other honorable people of the court. Today these clowns appear at markets or fairs and are often very talented in telling tales, doing magic, and acrobatics.
Clowns can provide much needed relief as well as information about what is appropriate behavior. They teach by example and they also celebrate the imperfections of our humanity.

To learn more about folklore: www.folkheartpress.com

Motherly May

May: The Month
 for All Things Motherly

Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world. From Nepal to Israel to Panama, people everywhere are paying tribute to mothers and to motherhood; it’s a centuries’ tradition that takes place between February and June each year, depending upon the culture and its calendar.

With origins that date back to the ancient Greeks who celebrated a holiday that paid homage to Rhea the mother of the gods and the ancient Romans who enjoyed the holiday Matronalia in which mothers were usually given gifts, today’s Mother’s Day customs are still as varied as the cultures who keep them.

For example, Israeli’s have woven the idea of Mother’s Day into their celebration of Henrietta Szold who had no biological children. Szold is revered for the organization she founded. “Youth Alilyah” rescued many Jewish children from the Nazi German and took care of them. Because she was thought of as the “mother” of all these children, her birthday was set as Mother’s Day (Shevat 30 which falls anywhere between January 30 and March 1.). Over time the day’s significance has evolved and is now about mutual love inside the family celebrated by kindergarten children. 

Panama celebrates Mother’s Day earlier than most other countries. Unlike Norway which marks Mother’s Day as the first Sunday in February, Panamanians have chosen December 8 which is the same day as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Panama’s President Florencio Harmodio Arosemena had a law passed in 1930 to change that country’s original from May 11. 

In Europe and the UK Mother’s Day follows the traditions of Mothering Sunday which is a Christian festival that occurred on the fourth Sunday in Lent to honor the Virgin Mary and the "mother" church of that particular region. Some records state that children who served in houses were given a day off at that date so they could visit their family. It was believed that the children would pick wild flowers along the way as a gift for the either their mothers or their church.