“Hello Damballa, give me the power I ask of you.” Or at least that’s the extent Chucky say.
It says it enough. Usually, it’s a prelude to some supernatural hijinks – transferring his soul into a Good Guy doll or trying and not taking over the body of a terrified child actor. The chant is a regular staple of the franchise. It must have come from somewhere, right?
He did, kind of – the part about Damballa, especially. Longtime fan of the Children’s Play movies will know that Charles Lee Ray and his recurring chum Tiffany get their supernatural powers from voodoo rituals, due to being or being regular practitioners. Voodoo for Dummies book nearby. “Voodoo for Dummies.” I just got that. Good stuff.
It is clear that the franchise is not pulling from a place of solemn reverence – its third season Chucky the Lakeshore Strangler visits a Voodoo doctor’s office, complete with an examining table, stethoscope, and sphygmomanometer. But it draws inspiration from at least one sliver of true Voodoo beliefs.
Damballa – can be spelled many ways, but we’re sticking with this one – it’s about as high in the echelons of Voodoo loa spirits as you’re going to get. Depending on the change of the different beliefs that you follow, it is the guy who created the universe or the first spirit who made the man who made it. The creation myths surrounding him describe Damballa as an insignificant white snake who created the Earth with the curves of its coils and created the oceans by shedding its skin. There is an argument to be made that the gathering storm clouds that gather every time Chucky calls Damballa’s name are a visual reference to the spirit’s association with water. There is an equally relevant argument that represents the clouds as thunder and lightning are scary and cool. In either case, they do not consider Damballa’s character within Voodoo beliefs, where he is portrayed as ancient, tired, silent, and generally cold. He likes eggs and flour if you’re minded – a far cry from what you might imagine Chucky is willing to sacrifice.
All this makes you wonder: How did Damballa – a giant snake that walked backwards, as giant snakes go – become the most prolific killer doll in the Midwest? The answer seems to be deeply rooted in “making stuff up.” The “Heart of Damballa” or any mythology related to the spirit is not helping murderers turn into the hot toy of the holiday season. In a recent interview with Planet pop culture discussing the third season of Chucky, Children’s Play Mastermind Don Mancini doesn’t talk much about the cultural origins of Chucky’s favorite supernatural deity. Instead, he sees Damballa as a lens through which to explore new corners of world lore.
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