In a recent discussion with one of my lovely, learned friends the subject of bones came up and the magic that they hold. It started out about bones of our ancestors and the magic they possess, but I wanted to write here about animal bones in particular.
In the old days bones and animal parts were used widely for magical purposes. People were hunters they used all the parts of an animal primarily for food and warmth, and the bones for magic.
Now I do not advocate anyone popping out and hitting a badger over the head with a stick just to use the bones in a spell. However nature itself provides dead animals and birds and man in his motor car provide a lot too. Picking up road kill may sound a bit yucky and is not for everyone or the feint hearted (thankfully my lovely friend is very brave and does it for me!) but I think of it as honouring the animal, that it’s skin and bones will be put to some good use after it has passed away.
Bones are to me a sort of fetish, the word fetish originates from a Portuguese word meaning charm or sorcery, an item filled with magic. Feathers, leaves, twigs and stones are all also types of fetish.
The bones themselves are a good way of connecting with the spirit of the animal and working with those energies. I have a magpie skull on my altar as magpie is one of my animal totems, I put it on my altar in honour of the spirit. The bone of the animal works as a vessel for the spirit to reside in within our realm. Animal bones can also be carried in medicine bags to utilise their particular energies. All animal spirits take time to bond with, so don’t rush it and it is also a nice idea to leave offerings for the animal bones too.
You can wear the bones as well to take on the attributes and power of the animal that they belonged to. A lot of animals are shamanic in nature too, enabling you to tap into their ability to travel between worlds.
Feathers, animal skins or bones can also be used in shapeshifting. The skins can be worn, the feathers or bones used as jewellery to aid you in taking on the form of the animal.
Ritual tools can also be made from animal bones – rattles for instance, or tie bones to your staff or wand for an added energy boost.
Divination with animal bones can also be done - I love the part in the Pirates film where Tia Darma casts her bones & shells to tell a fortune - and small bones make good oghams.
It is a fascinating subject and one that I will be working with a lot more.