Whilst Rudolf Steiner had much wonderful insight to share in relation to the importance of The Doll for all children and subsequently our culture/society and ultimately the world we all live in (which if interested you can read for yourself as it is just all too big for here) I stumbled across the following quite some time ago in Women Who Run With The Wolves which resonated with me strongly and which, I thought, may also be of interest to some.
I could very much relate to what Ms. Estes has to say about Dolls. The following comes from her analysis of the story of Vasalisa.
“Dolls are one of the symbolic treasures of the instinctual nature. In Vasalisa’s case, the doll represents vidacita, the little instinctual life force that is both fierce and enduring. No matter what mess we are in, it lives out a life hidden within us.
For centuries humans have felt that dolls emanate both a holiness and mana – an awesome and compelling presence which acts upon persons, changing them spiritually. Dolls are believed to be infused with life by their makers.
The Doll is the symbolic homunculi, little life. It is the symbol of what lies buried in humans that is numinous. It is a small and glowing facsimile of the original Self. Superficially, it is just a doll. But inversely, there is a little piece of soul that carries all the knowledge of the larger soul-Self.
The Doll is related to the symbols of leprechaun, elf, pixie, fairy, and dwarf. In fairy tales these represent a deep throb of wisdom within the culture of the psyche. They are those creatures which go on with the canny and interior work, who are tireless. In this way the doll represents the inner spirit of women; the voice of inner reason, inner knowing, and inner consciousness.
The doll is like the little bird in fairy tales who comes and whispers in the heroine’s ear, the one who reveals the hidden enemy and what to do about it all. This is the wisdom of homunculus, the small being within. It is our helper which is not seeable, but which is always accessible.
The dolls serve as talismans. Talismans are reminders of what is felt but not seen, what is so, but is not immediately obvious. The talismanic numen of the doll is that it reminds us, tells us, and sees ahead for us. This intuitive function belongs to all women. It is a massive and fundamental receptivity. Not receptivity as once touted in classical psychology that is as a passive vessel. But receptivity as in possessing immediate access to a profound wisdom that reaches to women’s very bones.”
Personally I have never been a fan of plastic dolls with false smiley faces or “perfect” model bodies and as a child I was never drawn to Barbie dolls at all even though they were all the rage during my childhood. As I have grown older I can see how that fits with my own need to always be real, raw and passionate and not pretend I am anything I am not. The last thing I reckon a child would want when they are upset is to cuddle a cold plastic doll with a painted smiley face. If it were me and I was upset I reckon I would want to throw it as far away from me as possible. To my way of thinking something soft and warm, made with love and care rather than a slapped together plastic mould type deal would always bring more comfort and nurturing.
What I have always found very interesting to observe over the years as the Bat Cave has been and still is a workplace for making dolls, toys and other items, is that absolutely every single item I have made of the doll/toy variety my son, as he was growing up wanted too, and his face would often light up with excitement as he witnessed each new creation. He was so perceptive that quite a while back his attention was drawn to a particular flower child I was making and he said “I really like this one, she is full of Spirit.”
So…. I cannot help but believe that Ms Pinkola Estes’ perception of the doll is a true reflection of their nature because there truly is something very special, beautiful and magical that occurs for me in the realm of doll/toy making. It is not seen, it is not measurable in terms of logic, but it contains a feeling that is truly beyond words, not just for me the maker, but more importantly for those who receive them.
I personally find there is nothing more satisfying for me than taking raw materials that look like nothing special or much at all and turning them into gorgeous little life and loved filled creations. There is also nothing more magical in my world than seeing the looks on folk’s faces when they see them on the table at the market.
Eyes light up, big smiles come, faces soften and exclamations of how cute and beautiful they are, are common. You can see the inner child in many come forth when they look at and feel my creations and in a world that is mostly full of manufactured, whack it out as fast as you can items, based on nothing more than making a profit which fall apart in no time, it is so very lovely to be able to bring the gift of handmade to many, for it is in those moments when I can see and also feel the affect my creations have on folk that truly do make the many hours they take to create oohh so worth it.
© Cheryl O’Connor 2014.
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