Poppet magick is a form of image magick, the art of using an image of something to manifest, create or affect it. The image itself is not magickal, and is used as a key or prop to help you focus your intention and shift into your magickal state of mind. Image magick is thought to be one of the most ancient forms of magick and that the oldest images created by humans were made for magickal purposes.
In Europe the Cro-Magnon cave paintings depict herds of animals painted with vivid colour, skillfully drawn in the deep recesses of caves. Many believe that the paintings were used for sympathetic magick - that by drawing great herds of animal on the cave walls would cause the animals to manifest in the physical world. By painting the animals they wished to catch, and with appropriate ceremonies, ancient hunters believed they could magically ensure a successful hunt. Energy focused through ritual supplied the magick, while the image was used to direct it.
Poppet magick also involves creating an image to direct magick. A simple doll created from fabric, in the appropriate colour, stuffed with herbs, crystals, stones is used to focus energy towards your desired goal, through meditation and ritual. It is not how good the likeness, but how strongly it serves to represent the essence of your goal.
Poppets may be used as an aid in healing, to strengthen desired qualities within ourselves such as "Kindness" or "Tolerance", or to facilitate communications with God/dess.
The most common use of poppets is to create a specific short-term effect in our own lives. You would create a poppet that represents you and then through ritual,meditation and magickal intent cause the desired change in your life.
There are a number of symbolic ways to stimulate the desired effect. The most famous is by use of pins. Forget all the movies and TV shows that show sticking pins into a doll to cause pain or harm to someone else. The pin is placed in an area you wish to focus energy on, the pin gives you something to concentrate on and it may help to conduct the energy in the physical world as well.
Where you place the pins depends upon what you want to do. If you are doing healing, you would place the pins in the parts of the doll that correspond to the parts of the body which need healing. If you are working to attract love or friendship, pins might be placed in the heart. If you wish to stimulate and open your Third Eye you may place a pin in the forehead of the poppet. If you are seeking to draw prosperity, you might place the pins in the belly. If you are working to draw success in some venture, you might choose to insert the pins in the top of the head, and again in the belly.
Use the kind of pins that have coloured tops, choosing the color according to the effect you wish to create. Red for love, green for healing, yellow or green for prosperity, blue or black for protection. You should pay attention to what feels right to you and do that -let your inner voice guide you. If you feel that a pin should go in a particular place, you should listen to this, because it is a message from your Higher Self.
You can also use appropriate props with your Poppet -for prosperity you might place coins or bills upon the doll. You can also use yarn -for protection, make a circle of red yarn around the doll. For healing, wrap the doll in green yarn. The possibilities are endless.
However you use the doll, remember that the symbolic act is only to help you focus your energy. It is not the pins or the yarn that work the magic, but you.