New Voodoo Review: The Voodoo Doll Spellbook by Denise Alvarado

The Voodoo Doll Spellbook by Denise Alvarado.
The Voodoo Doll Spellbook by Denise Alvarado.

Honestly, I probably shouldn’t write this, but when my editor at Patheos asked me if I would like to review The Voodoo Doll Spellbook, I wasn’t sure what to say. I have been a Voodoo priestess and anthropologist for over two decades and quite frankly, in my personal experience, the “Voodoo Doll” as most people imagine it just doesn’t exist. I was curious to see what an entire spellbook on the matter would have to say about it.

The Voodoo Doll Spellbook was written by Denise Alvarado, with foreword by Dorothy Morrison ( a dear friend who also ironically wrote the foreword for my book.) I have the utmost respect for Ms. Alvarado and I have long enjoyed her artwork and her writings. I eagerly looked forward to hearing what she was going to write about this problematic topic.
“Voodoo Dolls,” are the stuff of Hollywood legend. In the book Ms. Alvarado makes this clear from the very start saying ” Hollywood and the media are not the only ones to blame…. the presentation of the evil Voodoo doll began with the enslavement of African people and subsequent attempts to dehumanize them.”  New Orleans Voodoo has long been the target of such demonization on many levels. This book helps to challenge that.
This book has lots of useful information: The Lord’s Prayer backwards, Wiccan poppets, the history of Spanish Moss, and loads of spells from far and wide. There is even a section on Ushi no Koku Mairi, also known as Japanese Voodoo. Ms. Alvarado goes into detail about the history of dolls in healing, protection, and cursing. She gives classic recipes for traditional ingredients like “Lost and Away powder” and “Van Van.”  New Orleans legend Dr. John (Mac Rebennack,) is even mentioned in the book as one “magickal cat,” and as someone who is proud to be his friend I totally agree.
Collection of African Dolls on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Photo by Lilith Dorsey, 2014 all rights reserved.
Collection of African Dolls on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Photo by Lilith Dorsey, 2014 all rights reserved.
Not to switch too quickly from cats to werewolves, but I was very pleased to see a section in The Voodoo Doll Spellbook about the folklore of the legendary Louisiana Loup Garou. Alvarado explains ” it is said that the Loup Garou has red or yellow-green eyes and huge fangs. Some believe it is an Ancestral spirit.” Clearly this is a spirit you invoke against your truest enemies. Like all magickal workings this should not be entered into lightly. I also must note the same thing when dealing with the spells for the Orisha in the book. As an initiated practitioner of La Regla Lucumi (Santeria) I have to point out that there are specific Odu (mythic stories that provide our rules to live by) for working with the Orisha as an uninitiated person. Proceed with caution if you are not a practitioner.

The Voodoo Doll Spellbook is a valuable work for anyone seeking to perform doll magick. Denise Alvarado gives a comprehensive look at this practice, along with a load of practical information. So check out this book, and as it says on the back cover ” Be ready to reap what you are about to sow – or in this case sew.!”

Denise Alvarado, photo provided by subject.
Denise Alvarado, photo provided by subject.

More About Denise Alvarado: She was born and raised in the Voodoo and Hoodoo rich culture of New Orleans. She has studied mysticism and practiced Creole Voodoo and indigenous healing traditions for over three decades. She is the author of the Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook and The Voodoo Doll Spellbook, and is the editor in chief of Hoodoo and Conjure, the first magazine journal devoted to the spiritual, cultural, and folk magick traditions of the American South. She currently lives in Arizona. You can find out more at her website

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