The Nesting Doll Game (Recipe/Ritual)!


Growing up in Russia, I was often gifted matryoshki (nesting dolls) by friends or family members (mostly my babushki) – so many that I even had a collection. The intricate detail and colour on each of them, even the tiniest ones, fascinated me.

(If you don’t know what a mastryoshka is, here is a link.)

When I was a child, 9 or 10 years old, I went to camp out in the countryside. There, the senior boys always loved to scare the younger kids and show off their bravery to the girls.

A popular game they would dare each other to play was called “udachnaya matryoshka,” meaning “lucky nesting doll.” The goal of the game was to have any wish granted or receive luck and fortune for years.

My memories of that time aren’t great, but I never forgot the instructions to this game.

Here’s how you play it, to the best of my recollection. However, please note that I do not recommend playing this game.

What you will need:

  • a few nesting dolls (you only need one to play, but you will see why many are required shortly)
  • a mirror in a room with no windows (bathroom works best)
  • many candles (around 10 is a safe number) and a lighter
  • a piece of paper and a pencil
  • salt
  • a bin (a garbage can is fine)
  • a lucky charm (something like a horseshoe or a religious item)


The game is best played after nightfall. Otherwise, exact timing doesn’t matter. Again, I do not suggest you play this game, but if you do, you should prepare a wish or desire of something really important to you.

  1. Acquire a few nesting dolls. They should not be newly store-bought, as that diminishes the success of the ritual. The best dolls are gifted down generations or found at garage or antique sales.
  2. Take the dolls, candles, lighter, salt, and paper and pencil into your room of choice. This room must have a large mirror that stands on its own and a bin/garbage can. Hang your lucky object on the door handle outside.
  3. Close the door. The ritual works best with no one else in the vicinity, but if there are people, make sure that they will not disrupt you.
  4. Take one of the nesting dolls and take it apart entirely. This is extremely important: if there is an EVEN number of pieces inside the doll, toss all of that matroyshka’s doll pieces into the bin and cover with salt. DO NOT put the matryoshka back together.

Repeat this step until you find a matryoshka with an ODD number of pieces. When you do, you may proceed. If none of the nesting dolls you have are odd-numbered, you MUST NOT play the game.

How to play:

Step One: With your odd-numbered matryoshka taken apart, arrange all the separate dolls in front of you, facing the mirror.

Step Two: Place a candle behind each doll and light it. If you do not have enough candles, do not proceed.

A side note: the more dolls inside the matryoshka, the greater the reward. But, the risk is also greater as the game will be more challenging.

Step Three: Turn off the lights in the room and face the mirror. You should be able to make out the faces of each doll in the mirror from the candlelight behind them.

Step Four: Study the details of each doll very carefully. Memorize their facial features, their clothes, their hair, everything. (This is why it becomes more challenging with more dolls). Take as much time as you need – there is no limit.

Step Five: Once you are certain you know how each separate doll of the matryoshka looks, turn around and face away from the mirror. You may close your eyes if you wish. Count to seven slowly.

Step Six: You may feel a chill or hear distant laughter. Do not be alarmed, just calmly turn to face the mirror again. This step is the most important.

If ANY of the candles have blown out, you must end the game immediately (see: ending the ritual).

If ANY of the dolls don’t look like what you remember, you must end the game immediately (see: ending the ritual).

If the tiniest doll (the only un-openable one) has moved or has fallen over, you may proceed to the next step.

Step Seven: On your piece of paper, write down any wish you want granted. This can be anything you desire, but ensure that it is realistic, otherwise it definitely will not work.

Step Eight: Fold the paper an odd number of times and place it into the final openable doll (in place of the smallest one). Put the matryoshka together again carefully, ensuring that their colourings align in the centre and they all face the same way.

Step Nine: Blow out the candles and leave the room. Have someone you trust dispose of the other dolls in the bin, if necessary.

Step Ten: Burn your matryoshka promptly, ideally within the next hour. Keep the smallest doll piece, the one which your paper replaced, and put it under your pillow that night.

If, upon waking up, the little doll is gone, your wish will come true.

If the little doll is still there, do not fret. Keep it with you as a charm and it will bring you great fortune, although your wish will not come true.

If the little doll has changed physically in any way overnight, that means you failed Step Six of the ritual. You may burn it immediately, but it is likely too late and you will suffer bad luck for a year.

Ending the ritual:

If something happens that requires an immediate cessation to the game (including any interruptions such as a knock on the door), you must work quickly to follow these steps:

  1. Blow out all of the candles (do NOT turn on the light – it will not work).
  2. Grab the door handle. Close your eyes and say “ya ne hochu igrat'” (“I don’t want to play”) seven times.
  3. Open the door and leave the room. DO NOT return. Have someone you trust toss all the dolls into the bin and cover them with salt.

If the lucky charm is missing from the door knob on the outside when you open the door, leave the house immediately. Do not return.

If during Step Six of the game, one of the dolls has changed to look like you… I’m sorry.

Reposted from:

Tags: , ,

About Andrew

Co-founder & lead investigator of Paranormal Encounters. I've experienced the paranormal all my life, having encountered ghosts, angels and demons. I live in a haunted house and when not exploring and researching the unknown, I enjoy single malt Scotch whisky & potato chips (though not necessarily at the same time).