As portrayed in modern media, the idea of a Voodoo doll is simply a doll or a figurine representing a person in one’s life. It is then created by using personal objects with attachments to said person (for example, hair) and then using the doll to enact all kinds of spiritual acts. The most popular acts that people associate with Voodoo dolls are that of vengeance and mayhem.
In western media, it’s often shown that people with hate towards another person create the doll to hurt and curse people instead of what the dolls are initially intended for. Once a staple of West African traditionalism and Haitian beliefs, it is now reduced to nothing more than a tourist novelty. Voodoo Dolls have a terrible reputation. It is always depicted in popular media as a small, stitched-up doll that you imbue with your enemy’s essence. It then uses a needle prick, causing pain and inconvenience. And while it’s not unheard of that the dolls are used for curses, it’s doubtful that they are commonly used for this purpose.
The process of making the dolls has nothing to do with stitches and stuffing. Instead, the dolls are customarily made from sticks, straws, or any personal and organic material of the people that you’d like represented in the image of the figurine. As with West African spirituality, they are physical representations of the spiritual realm around people. Taking place on altars and surrounded by objects of interest. These physical conduits to family, friends, and loved ones are there to bring connection with that of the Lwa and to leave prayers and petitions of goodwill unto those that people are close to.
Source: Marie Laveau: Life of a Voodoo Queen. Monique Joiner Siedlak