Tag Archives: dolls

The Island of the Dolls/La Isla de las Muñecas

Informant Information – SI

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 20
  • Occupation: Student
  • Residence: Los Angeles, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: April 20, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

The informant grew up in Mexico and learned about this legend from family members, as well as on a visit to Lake Teshuilo. They aren’t sure as to whether or not the story is true, but they wouldn’t want to spend a day on the island. They shared this information with me in an in-person interview. 

According to the informant, La Isla de las Muñecas (“The Island of The Dolls”) is an island located in Lake Teshuilo. Sometime in the mid 20th century, the body of a young girl was found near the island. It was rumored that she had been drowned by a relative and that her spirit wandered the island in search of a loving home. 

In sympathy for the deceased child, visitors leave dolls on the island. Due to the island’s popularity, it is said to be the site of very intense emotions, which may attract other, malignant spirits. To prevent the dolls being used by these evil forces, visitors tie them to trees on the island.


This piece of folklore takes place in one of Mexico’s most toured locations. Given that Mexican culture includes several rituals, legends, and holidays that honor family traditions, deceased ancestors, and look back at the land’s history, it makes sense that many of these aspects of culture would be found in this location. 

The legend relates to spirituality, with obligation to some spirits and attempts to ward off others. There is a distinct binary between the young girl’s “good” spirit and the potential for “evil” spirits that might try to take advantage of the offerings left on the island. 

Cultural recognition and celebration of spirituality also plays a large role in Mexico City’s tourism industry. As my informant mentioned, many people earn money by offering the lake’s visitors a boat ride to the island. 

The Haunted Virginia Apartment Unit Pt. 2

Informant: I used to live in an apartment when I first moved to Virginia around 2007. I was around 8 years old. I was playing with my friend and my mom had previously gotten me a baby doll (I had about three of them). It was the ones you would get in Easter baskets. My friend did not like the way they looked, so she shoved the dolls into a drawer and closed it. She had to go, so we all went downstairs. It was just my parents and me (only child). When I came back into my room, the drawer was open, everything was trashed, my tea table was turned upside down. There were three dolls on my bed looking at the bedroom door. Slightly irrelevant, but a few years later, my apartment burned down (only my unit of the apartment) and the only thing that survived was our Bible. It was absolutely pristine and unscathed.

Background/Informant Thoughts: The informant lived in an apartment in Virginia when they were around 8 years old in 2007. There were repeated accounts of haunting going on in there. The informant felt unsafe and like something was out to get her. She felt as if it only wanted her out of the apartment. She remembers this because it was so traumatic to her. Seeing dolls staring at the door with her room torn apart shook her to her core. She was even more concerned after seeing the Bible was the only thing left unscathed after her unit in the apartment burned down.

My Thoughts: As with the first story, I am extremely freaked out by the amount of paranormal activity that has occurred just with this apartment alone. I believe whatever was residing in that apartment truly did not want her in there. If I came back to my room being seemingly ransacked, I would be freaked out and move out as soon as possible! Especially as a child, I would be terrified to sleep in that room.

The Ritual Game: One Man Hide-and-Seek

Interviewer: Okay so how do you play this game?

Informant: Well as the name suggests you have to do this alone, while everyone is out of the house, preferably. You take an old doll that you don’t like anymore, cut it open and remove all the stuffing. Then fill it up with white rice. Once the doll is totally full of rice, cut a hair from your head and poke it into the heart of the doll’s body. Then take a knife and prick a finger, doesn’t matter which one, and wipe the blood onto the rice protruding from the doll’s back. Once you’ve done that, take a bit of red string and sew up the back of the doll and cut it off with the same knife you used to prick your finger. Once it’s sewn up give it a name, and it has to be a name that no one you know has.

Interviewer: Sounds like you have to be very careful during all this prep work.

Informant: Oh yeah and we’re not even done yet. Actually playing the game is specific too. You then have to take the finished doll to a bathroom, run a shallow bath, and then place the doll in the water. Turn out all the lights in the house, finding a hiding spot and count to ten. You shouldn’t forget to take the knife with you when you go to hide. Say ‘ready or not here I come’ then go back to the doll. Repeat ‘I found you, I found you, I found you’ then ‘you’re the next it, you’re the next it, you’re the next it’ and tie the knife to the doll’s hand. Then go to hide again, it doesn’t have to be in the same place. If you make it to sunrise, you’ve won the game.

Interviewer: Do you get anything out of winning?

Informant: No, I don’t think so. You just get bragging rights.

Interviewer: What happens if you lose?

Informant: The doll kills you, supposedly. But if you need to stop the game, like if the doll finds you, it’s recommended that you always have a glass of salt water prepared to pour on the doll. When you pour the water, shout ‘I win, I win, I win’ then the game is over.

Background: One Man Hide and Seek was part of a film project that she was doing for school. She researched this game but does not remember which sites she learned it from or its origin.

Context: I was interviewing my informant for rituals that she learned about through research and hearsay from others. She was happy to tell me about this one since it resulted in one of her favorite movies that she made.

Thoughts: I severely doubt that the original reason for doing One Man Hide and Seek was just so one could have bragging rights, so it must have been a ritual for something else originally. I did a little digging online and found a site that suggests the ritual was originally posted on a ‘Japanese horror bulletin board.’

Please see “One-Man Hide and Seek / Hide and Seek Alone.” Know Your Meme Accessed March 20, 2020


My informant, JP, is creating voodoo dolls for children.  Literally sewing dolls.  She calls them Voodles, a combination of voodoo and dolls.  When she told me she was making voodoo dolls for children I was surprised.  I explained that I thought voodoo dolls were scary–a part of what my dad calls dark magic.  But my informant explained that voodoo is totally misconstructed by modern day society.  She understands them to be these protective spirits with positive attributes, not negative ones.

She plans to create a number of Voodles.  For example, there will be a doctor Voodle for a sick child.  “Another Voodle has a pocket and if you put a penny in its pocket and make a wish, the Voodle is supposed to help it come true. And each Voodle will come with a legend or story.”

JP’s desire to make a Voodles for children suggests she has a strong belief in voodoo dolls.  It also reveals that she believes so many people believe in voodoo that there is a commercial market for voodoo dolls geared toward children.

Haunted House in Hesperia

“This one story that happened to my, uh, my two cousins, on my dad’s side of the family, Alicia and Carina. They are very, very, uh, I guess you could say—very easily susceptible to spirit—spiritual, supernatural occurrences. Like, they’re just a magnet to that shit. It’s just, since they were young, that’s how it’s been, you know. It’s kind of, uh, within my own family it’s kind of, we just kind of accept it for what it is. Like, shit, it happens. Um, so they live in Hesperia now. But when they were little girls, they moved into the house they are in now. And they got it for super cheap because they realized, like, after, uh, a little boy passed away, um, in the tub. His mom left to go grocery shopping, like, really quick just to get something and he was, uh, I think he had Down Syndrome, and he passed away. You know this actually happened, like, this is actually, like, a true story: he passed away. Um. So when they got the house there was some furniture some stuff left behind. Uh, and in my cousin’s room there was this doll. This doll, it was just there, you know. And my uncle says like, ‘Oh, I’ll keep this for Carina.’ So once they start moving in, this one night, my uncle and aunt told me that Carina just, they just hear Carina scream. At the top of her lungs, just scream. And they open the door and she’s just, she’s just crying. And they’re like, ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong?’ ‘The doll was staring at me, was like, looking right at me’ And they’re like, ‘What?’ (scoffs) Like, ‘Oh my God, what are you talking about?’ Like, ‘Just stop. Go to sleep,’ you know? And this, this occurred like throughout a few weeks and almost every night, like, Carina would just, she had, like, no sleep because she would always claim that the doll would, at night, like, stand up and look at her and laugh. And she, her parents didn’t believe her. So this one time, my uncle was just so fed up with it, like, ‘Look, this is not real. You need to stop.’ Like, ‘You’re imagining things,’ you know? They got her a night-light, all this shit. So my aunt put the doll with all the other dolls in this little chest and put—just there, like, he’s not gonna get out, like, relax he’s in there you’re fine. That night, my aunt told me, when she went into the room all the fucking dolls, like, the thing was open and everything was scattered. And the doll was just, like, there. Like just, uuuhhh, just kind of there. Like, looking, like, at the doorway. And my aunt looked at my cousin. And she’s like, ‘Wait, why’d you make this mess?’ She’s like, ‘I didn’t do it. This wasn’t me I didn’t do it.’ And she asked my cousin, like Alicia, my little cousin Alicia,  ‘Alicia’s not—like, she wasn’t even here she was with my grandma.’ So like what the fuck? And my aunt was just, like, you’re being stupid, like, you did this shit. And, uh, this one time my aunt was vacuuming the living room and, uh, they’re have a, like, I guess you could say, like, somewhat of a poltergeist, like, they’ve experience the shit where you see the chairs, like, stacked up Like that’s happened to them. Like, they’ve seen it. And, so from that, they had a priest come to the house and like legitly bless it. You know. Um, so maybe for awhile, things started, like, things were completely fine. And it was’t until there was a barbeque at, they had a barbeque at their house. And my uncle decided, ‘you know what? Fuck it. I’m gonna—we’re gonna take this doll, and I’m just gonna throw it away, like, it’s done.’ You know, uh, so when people were coming, my grandpa at the time, he saw, he saw, like, this doll, perfectly fine on the trash can and he’s, like, why are they gonna throw this away? So he brought it back into the house. And you know from the perspective of everyone who’s outside, you just see a bunch of kids running out of the—outside in the back yard just running, just screaming, like ‘OH MY GOD!’ and my aunt was like what’s wrong, like, what happened? What’s wrong? What’s wrong?’ They said that—these are like little kids, a like my cousins, who said that, they claim that they saw the doll run across the room like the hallway.  And they all just ran out, screaming. It’s just… what the fuck? So from that they just, they just burned the doll, they got rid of it. They legitly just got rid of it. Um but I could like vouch for that. My brother, like, my oldest brother who’s 25, 26 now, he was a kid when that happened, like he was one of the kids that was there. You know. Like for him, it’s just, like, “Dude, I have no idea what the fuck happened. It was just there.” You know, but, yeah… just shit like that… like, supernatural shit.

“But the way that my family sees it, well my dad, my dad’s like her (the secondary informant) dad, like, “That’s bullshit. Like you don’t pay attention to it. You know, you don give it energy, like it feeds off energy, like it needs to be noticed, you know so if you make that conscious decision, like okay I see it,  I’m gonna acknowledge it, it’s just (snaps), it’s gonna keep coming back, it’s gonna keep coming to you, you know. But for some—like my grandmother, and just this—but it’s mostly with older generations—”

Secondary informant: “They just love it! They just dig it.”

Primary informant: “It’s like older generations, you know, it’s an older generations thing.”

My informant is of Mexican ancestry and his family is very open to the idea of the supernatural. He says that his family frequently shares stories about ghosts, hauntings, and unexplainable occurrences. Although he is more skeptical than his older relatives, the older women are especially into it, he still enjoys sharing the stories he’s heard. He can’t help but believe that there’s at least some truth to what his family members are telling him.

Stories about dolls who are haunted or possessed are very popular within the fantastic genre of literature, art, and film.  My informant’s tale is a unique one and tells of something supernatural experienced by his relatives.