Monday, February 25, 2008

Fever Dolls

Fever Dolls
European Folk Magic

© Elizabeth Yetter

In European folk magic dolls were used for many purposes. For
instance, dolls were used to represent a goddess, such as Bride,
during seasonal observances.

Dolls were also used in love magic to bring two people together and
for protection to bind people from doing harm. Less known are the
dolls that were used for healing.

Fever dolls act as scapegoats. They were made out of whatever material
was on hand, and kept overnight under the pillow of a feverish child.
In the morning, the fever doll was removed from the home and given a
mock burial. By doing this, the fever, which moved into the doll
overnight, would also be buried with the doll.

Making a Fever Doll

Items Needed

2"x2" piece of cardboard

White embroidery thread

Fever dolls can be made in the same way that yarn dolls are made. Wrap
the white embroidery thread around the cardboard about 20 times. Slip
the wound thread off the cardboard, cut a piece of thread that is 4"
long, and tie the wound thread. This bend will be where you form the
head of the doll. Next, cut the wound thread opposite of the head so
that you have strands instead of loops.

To form the doll, tie another thread around the neck area to form the
head. Separate equal strands of yarn, about 9 strands, on each side of
the body for the arms. Tie string around the wrist area of each arm.
If the doll is to represent a girl, you are now finished making the
doll. However, for a boy doll you will need to tie a strand of thread
around the doll's waist. Separate the remaining strands equally for
the legs and tie thread around the ankles.

These little fever dolls can be made beforehand and kept safely in a
drawer or in a box on your altar.
Using a Fever Doll

To use a fever doll, light a white votive candle and, standing before
the candle, hold the fever doll in the palm of your power hand. Say to
the doll:

* Burning fire,
* Burning fever,
* Take the heat within you.

Place the fever doll under the sick child's pillow. If you are doing
this for an infant or toddler, place the fever doll under the mattress
or someplace near the crib where the little one cannot reach it.
Return to the candle. Say:

* The flame burns down,
* The fever leaves [name of child].

Allow the candle to burn down and out.

The next day, remove the fever doll from under the child's pillow.
Take it outdoors and bury it. You can make this ritual a simple act of
digging a small hole and burying the doll within it, or you can wrap
the doll in a shroud and bury it with a blessing and a copper penny.

Knotted Cloth

Another piece of folk magic regarding the cure of fevers uses a
knotted cloth. A white cloth, or washcloth was knotted three times,
one knot was made in the upper half of the cloth for the head and two
corners were knotted for hands. What remained was the flowing gown
part that represented the body.

This knotted cloth was then rubbed over the feverish forehead to
absorb the fever. It was then placed in running water, such as under a
faucet, to cool the fever and wash it away.

Medicine and Folk Magic

The fever doll and knotted cloth are in no way meant to replace
medicine and the expert advice of a doctor. Instead, like meditation
and creative visualization, folk magic is meant to compliment modern
medicine. After all, we want to help our loved ones in every way that
we can.

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2 Comments:

Blogger kim said...

I have to make one of these. i was sooooo sick the beginning of the month. UGH.

I got my package today!!! I LOVE everything!!! Thank you SO much!!!

February 25, 2008 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

Thanks for the visit, Autumn.

This is a good one. I'm collecting a bunch of folklore right now for my Truholt family characters to use. I think those guys are going into a novel.

Yes, I remember those wax teeth especially. I think they were sort of wintergreen or bubblegum flavored. A friend of mine was always wearing those candy necklaces. All the candy seemed so much more fun in those days. Blow pops, those sour sticks of stuff and pop rocks.

February 28, 2008 at 9:37 PM  

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