I had long been searching for healing paths that co-mingled with joy. At age 26, I met my first therapist and initiated our session with the question “can I laugh my way through this?” It seemed a reasonable inquiry to me. I much preferred laughter to tears and saw no reason why I couldn’t steer clear of discomfort and sail through the rough seas with a dose of humor and a smile.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve been recipient of nearly 80 different healing modalities and have learned that healing doesn’t always unfold this way; however, I was pleasantly surprised a few years ago in the midst of some intense emotions to discover a path where this co-mingling with joy was present and powerful.
I was navigating the depths of some emotional turmoil at the time. Journaling had been my most consistent outlet and source of reflection for many years, but during this time, putting pen to paper no longer met my needs. I felt a call to create in 3 dimensions and in my search for a new way of healing, doll making found me.
Images of yarn-headed Raggedy Ann or dough-faced Cabbage Patch dolls may come to mind. Though some doll-making mechanics are utilized, this process is intuitively-based and speaks to the doll-maker through symbolism and imagery.
The process begins with meditation in which the maker inquires with the doll-to-be to learn of her intention - the colors and expression she brings, what is needed for her core structure, what essence she carries. As the doll is birthed, the maker remains in meditation with her creation as she comes into form, continually asking what she wants for her optimal expression. This inquiry often offers up some challenges and some teachings and can be emotional and enlightening as the creation unfolds.
The teachings of the doll are many as she and her maker relate with one another along this creative path. I’ve learned never to assume, but to remain open and curious to what wants to express. Once the doll feels complete, the maker can continue to receive information from her through a journaling process. This part is particularly powerful and offers insights that may not be readily apparent throughout her creation.
My most powerful doll-making experience was creation of a scapegoat doll named Fear Embodied. She required six months and three iterations to get to the depth of her expression. Her creation was challenging and cathartic. In the process of creation, I gained invaluable insight and awareness, and was offered release from much of the fear I had held. As well, I experienced joy in the process of creating and in being curious about what she revealed to me.
Fear Embodied is pictured here along with the doll that followed - Compassionate Mother.
I’ve just finished facilitating a day-long workshop on Transformative Healing Dolls. If this process resonates with you, I hope you’ll join me in September for our next creative gathering.