I was interviewed this week by a woman doing her PhD project on healing and transformative doll making. One of her questions for me was “does a doll have agency of its own?”
“Absolutely,” I replied.
For the purpose of her study, she needed to challenge my belief, saying that most people would contend dolls are inanimate objects, and a belief in dolls having their own agency could be viewed as bordering on psychotic. I smiled. Had I been asked this question fifteen years ago, I would have sided with the masses.
I began making dolls in 2007. At the time, I was working to address my anger and fear. I could no longer use journaling nor words to describe and process my emotion. I wanted to pull my feelings outside of myself and mold them into something I could relate to and understand. Dolls became my vehicle for transformation.
As little beings emerge in the art of doll making, they hold obvious emotion. A body’s posture, the tilt of a head, the facial features are all expressive. But there’s more. A handmade doll is imbued with the creator’s intent, vision and heart. Its spirit, evidenced throughout its creation and in the completed piece, is unique—filled with wisdom and teachings that are available to those who inquire. For me, it’s the inquiry process that has demonstrated that dolls have their own agency.
Part of what I offer in my healing doll class is technique, but mostly I work to convey the importance of paying attention to what your process is teaching you, listening to inner dialogue and the intuitive voice of guidance. This type of listening can be used for any creative expression. It informs your work and provides insight into your inner domain—offering new perspectives and helping you through those challenging places in life.
I'm teaching a healing doll class May 19. It will be an intimate gathering in my home, and will be limited to five people. We'll use the medicine wheel as a guide for our creative journey and will engage in a listening process as we each make a doll. No artistic skill required—just an open heart, presence with the process and willingness to have fun! Details here.
Speaking of dolls, the fellow pictured here has emerged as I take pause in my transition from completing the writing of my book to what’s next. He’s enjoying the time to examine the beauty that surrounds him and is content with listening to the wind. His story follows:
Eljin O’Driscoll lives in Puzzlewood, a magical woodland in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, England. Said to be one of JRR Tolkien’s inspirations, the ancient forest is home to more magical beings than one might imagine. Eljin inhabits one of the oldest yew trees—some 600 years of age—living in its hollow trunk with his friendly neighbors, the hoverflies, ladybirds and wood-boring beetles. He’s partial to early morning strolls along faint animal trails lined with ferns and moss, and is particularly cautious of the goshawk’s keen eye and hunting prowess. Eljin is congenial, though not terribly talkative and agreed to have his photo taken holding the morning’s ‘treasures from the trail’—‘lil bits and pieces of beauty found on his walk.