These Old Bones

divination Sep 09, 2020
These old bones will tell you stories
These old bones won't ever lie
These old bones will tell you surely
What you can't see with your eye
These old bones I shake and rattle
These old bones I toss and roll
And it's all in where they scatter
Tells you what the future holds

Bone casting has been done in various cultures in various ways. I made up my own, much like my charm casting set, taking inspiration from various things, adding whatever seemed like a good idea, or finding things to represent a concept that was missing.

Top row:
Silk cocoon: transformation; ammonite fossil: time; sand dollar: money, physical resources; beaver tooth: work; racoon baculum: power, especially magical power; armadillo kneecap: liminal and interstitial things.

Second row:
Orchid shell slice: beauty, wonder; fox tooth: talking, negotiating; antler tip: conflict, battle; goat knucklebone: yes/no; brass key: secrets, mysteries; starfish: healing, regenerating.

Third row:
Wild turkey vertebra: support, community, people and things you can count on; coyote tail bone: finishing things, bringing something to a close; sheep toe bone: travel; jewel beetle wing cover: doing something you're good at, shining; gar scale: protection, armor.

I'm currently looking to add a green cardamom pod for growth and potential, and a short length of cassia cinnamon stick for the outside or appearance of things. Eventually I'll want something for the heart of things, to complement the cinnamon, and maybe something for stagnation, to complement the cardamom. These additions make my set smell good, which is a nice bonus. Engage another sense.

The verse at the top is from Dolly Parton's song These Od Bones, and I repeat it each time I cast them. I feed my bones on smoke and song, and they respond well to it.

Right now, I'm casting them into my frame drum, but I'm not sure I'll want to continue that long-term. It's difficult to carry around if I want to. I'd like to have a leather casting mat. I bought the skin of a stillborn kid goat to use for that, but it didn't want to be included. (I ask every piece if I can use it for this purpose before I add it. Each of them has a spirit, and to use the set, I must work with all of them.)

The inside of the drum head is marked in chalk, divided in 3 parts, for Ocean, Earth, and Starry Heaven. I'm finding that the reading starts in the center, and moves outwards time-wise. Pieces tend to gather into clumps, which are events or chains of events.

Purely to illustrate, here's a shot of a reading I did for a friend recently:

A bone reading

I won't give the meaning of the reading, but the way it works is this: The knucklebone is almost dead center, showing the face that means yes-but, so this is a positive reading with a caveat, and also that the positives will begin almost immdiately. Immediately below that is one grouping, which is pretty complex, and illustrates how the next six months or so will go, as far as emotions (Ocean) and practicalities (Earth) go. Below that is one end of a line of objects, which are also read as a group, and are further out in time, perhaps up to a year out. The other five pieces are scattered separately, and are read that way. The distance from the center of the ammonite helps me see the time scale in play.

I want to point to Lupa Greenwolf's Pocket Osteomancy as the only book I actually read on the topic before I started. She sells sets, just the book, and an ebook. I also picked up, but have not yet read, her book Skull Scrying. I'll get to it


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