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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Grandmother's Dolls

One of my first encounters with a hoodoo and her mojos was as a child. It was deeply unsettling at the time, but now I look back on it with delight.

See, this old lady had a bedroom filled with dolls. There were two instances when I saw her go in there: when she was cleaning, and when she was upset. Both times, she went in there and bustled about, straightening up and dusting. But while she did so, she talked, non-stop to those dolls. She told them about her problems, and thanked them for their aid. She scolded one or two for "bein' lazy" and laid out praise to the high heavens on another.Both times I caught her doing this, she just shot me a look and then closed the door to this room.

Now, you have to understand that these dolls were...deeply unsettling. They were the sort that had stuffed dress bodies, and porcelain hands and heads, complete with staring, terrifying eyes and pursed judgmental little lips once painted pink but now faded and cracked. Their hair was matted with the dust of years and decades, and she kept them up on shelves, sitting pressed in close on one another, all staring down at you in the middle of the room.

As I said. Deeply unsettling!

I found out later that the dolls kept her mojos for her. She used them to "give a face" to the tobys she made, opening up the back of the doll, moving some of the stuffing around and putting the mojo in there, then sewing it back up. She'd go into that room, with its single bed for guests (I can't imagine ever sleeping there!) and its rocking chair, take one of them down, dab a little olive oil on its brow, sit and sing her favorite hymns and then whisper. She'd tell it what she needed, what was wrong, what needed fixing, and that little doll would go to work.

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