Kindoki Basics: Fetishes

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Altar with Orisha dolls

Altar with Orisha dolls

In African and diaspora Kindoki, a fetish is a blessed object, statue, doll, or other figure that embodies a deity, ancestral spirit, or Ndoki.  They are made for many purposes, from protecting a grave site or home, to cursing people with misfortune.  Traditions vary from place to place, family to family, and person to person, as far as how they are customarily made and blessed.  So here, I will be posting general guides for how to make, house, and maintain them.  You will have to follow your own souls to tailor methods that will suit you.

Just remember that once it is activated, or the crafter with the appropriate energy has finished it, the fetish is a living being.  It should be fed and kept properly.

There are many types of fetishesClick here for some information and beautiful photos of carved wood fetishes from the Congo Republic and Angola.

Stone fetishes are naturally shaped or carved stones that are prayed over and passed through certain ceremonies to imbue them with the energy of a deity or spirit, or to release the energy of the spirit that is already in it.  If you are embracing or incorporating Yoruba or closely neighboring systems into your practice, your first task in beginning fetish work is to find a dome, rounded, or phallic shaped stone with a reasonably flat bottom that feels Eshu-ish, and dedicate it to Eshu.  If it is small enough, this can be your altar Eshu, and if it is big, you can leave it outdoors and do the prescribed offerings for it there.

Macuto are a type of fetish commonly seen in the Afro-hispanic systems.  They are generally made with cloth, skin, or membrane, and decorated with beads and cowrie shells, though some do it differently.  They embody energy of an Orisha.

Lucky hands and mojo bags can be condition based or embody a spirit.

Statues and dolls are very common fetishes.  Some are made by artists, and some crafted by the person who will be keeping them.

Spirit bottles can be fetishes themselves, or used to house a fetish.  These are usually hand crafted, and many are very beautiful.  Some though, are deceptively plain.  Some are made so that they can imbue energy to something in their “belly” such as an oil or potion.

Tiles or “bones” can be small, portable fetishes.  Those who must practice their magick in secrecy, or are low on space (such as sailors) often have small figures.  Tiles, bones, or runes that have been properly dedicated to their associated deities can serve double duty as divination tools and fetishes.  Just make sure they are given proper care and respect once they become more than representative channels.

Actual bones and skulls house ancestral spirits who have left a “shard” of themselves behind to serve the living.  These fetishes are often guardians or guides.  Human and animal bones are often kept for these purposes.

Paintings and drawings or pictures can be fetishes too.

Constructing Fetishes

How ever a fetish is made, it should contain or be soaked or smoked in things that can have compatible energy or Ashe with the spirit it will embody.  For instance, if you are making something for Eshu as a protector, it would be good to put things like jet (lignite) or rooster claws, and the like.  If for Yemaya, it should have stones from a body of water, river or sea water, shells, etc.  If for Oshun, gold, mirrors, honey, and/or other things associated with her.  You want it to be “sticky” to the energy it will embody.

Its home or container should also be comfortable.  If, due to space concerns, the storage has to be informal, it should still be non damaging.

A fetish should be made with extreme mindfulness, from the best quality materials possible.  If you are using recycled items, make them the best you can find.  Prepare them when you are in a proper mood.  Treat them as holy, and don’t do things that would disrespect their associated spirit around them even while they are unfinished.  If you do by accident or because you have no choice, make the appropriate apologies and offerings.

Oh, and one more thing: don’t make fetishes for spirits you don’t know, or don’t know if you can handle or maintain.  Don’t be a know-it-all just because you read about or heard about something, and think it would be cool, interesting, or fun.  If you don’t have experience with something, ask someone who does.  If they don’t think it’s a good idea for you, listen to them.  Many people have made the mistake of messing around with energies they can’t handle, and have suffered greatly and died.  Be careful with these things.


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