Today in the 31 Days of Magic (an outgrowth of the strategic sorcery community around Jason Miller) we’re supposed to use a poppet. This is fundamentally different than jewelry or clothing, because those are the sorts of magic one does to present one’s self in a particular way. They’re glamoury of a sort, as Deb could tell you in detail. But poppets and dolls are something else, because it’s creating something specifically to affect someone else. And in general this is not the sort of magic that I do. I’m much more interested in doing magic that helps people; and poppets have always struck me as magic for causing harm or difficulty or trouble.
But it’s the magic of the day. I’ve been thinking about how to do this within my own code of ethics around magic for days. And I finally hit on a solution.
I’ve said before that one of my purposes in doing these 31 Days of Magic is to find people who will be co-workers and colleagues in the mission of teaching children to be Makers and creators, and bring more hands-on skills into the school.
And so I made this poppet. It’s got yellow ‘skin’, and blue jeans, and a black t-shirt, all made of felt. I started out by rummaging around in the fabric bin, and finding some scrap felt. All of the fabric was scrap from the MakerSpace at my school — it’s ‘consecrated’ or energized for the purpose I have in mind; this is fabric that has been cut up and used by a variety of students in my school who are having a great time Making things, and enjoying the creative processes which I’m trying to teach. It’s sewn together with a polyester-cotton blended thread… and as I sewed this poppet, I spoke words of blessing and consecration over the parts and thread.
As the poppet came together, it looked more and more real and complete. Actually, it didn’t look more real and complete. It was more real and complete. I mean, Look At It. It is a real thing, isn’t it? Regardless of whether it’s a powerful and magical object, it’s a real object.
You want to know how real it is?
It’s so real that a colleague of mine saw me making it, and said, “Are you making a VOODOO DOLL??”
And of course, I said “yes.”
This person’s eyes bugged out of their head. “Who is it of?” I smiled, and said, “nobody in particular. Potentially anybody.”
This person said, “why are you making it??”
I said, “It’s a magical doll, sure. Not exactly voodoo… I mean, I’m not going to stick pins in it or anything. But it’s suggestive of a set of powers. Cutting and sewing. And it will sit in the MakerSpace with a bunch of similar objects. And sooner or later, one of our colleagues will look at it, and think I could make that with my students. It doesn’t look so hard. It actually looks pretty easy.”
I finished sewing the poppet as she watched and listened. “And then,” I said, “that means that someone else will take up the work of teaching kids how to make something with their hands. Someone else will take up the work of teaching kids to sew. I can’t do it all, but I can do some of it. And now this little magical poppet will sit in the MakerSpace project library, beckoning to all who see it, You could make something like me, and make it better, and it would be a lot of fun to learn how.”
I cut the last thread.
And now, this little fellow sits in the MakerSpace project library, exactly where I said he would be. And now… don’t you want to make one too? Don’t you think you could make a better one?