Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dedicating my Bone Set

It starts with smoke.

As promised, I am resurrecting this blog. Hopefully, after such a long hiatus, we still have some readership! Today's post is the first in a series all about one way I divine. 

Divination can be done by reading the clouds, listening to animals (I tend to watch crows) or other nature spirits, Tarot cards, Runes, pendulums, or other miscellaneous items (often called "bone casting" or "reading the bones", as many of these systems contain animal parts). I do all these things, as oracular work, divination, and spirit communication are my jam. So I have tried them all and do many on a frequent basis. 

Smoking my casting basket.

What is divination? Many people have a mistaken idea what it is and isn't/ When you do it correctly, spirits speak through you. You are a conduit of information and the tool that you use is not the message- it is the tool to garner the message. For example, when I first learned to use a pendulum, my teacher told us to talk to our particular tool and say "show me your yes, no, and maybe". Many students took that to mean that the pendulum was somehow speaking to them and a different pendulum may have a different way of stating yes, no, or maybe. NOPE.

Soaking in salt water.
Bone reading is done worldwide by many cultures including in Africa (and by African descendants in the Americas), in Siberia, in Eurasia, and Pacific Islands. It seems to be one of the earliest forms of getting messages from spirits/gods besides actual trance/possession/channeling (whatever you may call it). The awesome thing about this system is it is ever-evolving and highly personal.

Today's post is about my bone reading set: assembling, cleansing, & dedicating it so that it works well with me, the Witch. Since this system requires myriad items collected from animals, the earth, the sea, and the like- getting them to work together for you is a project. As an animist, I know that all these items have a spirit and a message. It's not always the same message each time (for example, a coin always means money). I have to learn to listen as much as they need to learn how to speak to me. They also have attached memories sometimes- and that memory of how I acquired them often goes into how I read that item.

Some of my set.
I also know that perhaps how this item came to me was not awesome for that item. Crystals being ripped out of the earth are often cursed by earth spirits (and why should they not be?). Animals who were killed for sport and not respected in their death often have issues to reconcile. I need to pay the coin, make amends, and gain the ear of these items so that they work with me. I, the Witch, offer them a purpose after their trauma and they see me through my traumas. We become allies.

Smoking to cleanse.
I am working on my own reading cloth, for example- which reflects my worldview as a traditional witch. It will be different than a Sangoma surface (which is often a circle and cross pattern drawn in the dirt or painted on an animal hide), different than commercially available cloths. Some of the items in my set are like items in others' Sangoma sets, as that symbolism resonates with me- but other items have been removed) yet my set is unique as a whole and no one on earth has a set that contains all my items.

Some examples: I have a wishbone from a turkey consumed by me and my Witch Kin at a Yule feast. Wishbones traditionally imply luck, chance, etc. But this one also has the celebration, kinship, and tribal feelings attached to it. My skull means the ancestors as well, but the skull in my set has dozens of friends scattered all over the world. I bought a whole set and gave them to initiates and apprentices in my tradition over the last year. The humble pockmarked quartz stone in my set is from the front yard of my oath mother. It means family, oaths, and loyalty.

Stay tuned for more posts about divination and this ever-evolving set!

For those that are interested, the smoke I used for this purpose was not made by me! While I often create incense blends for ritual purposes, there are others that make awesome blends too. The large round jar is a Lilith blend made by the Sword and the Rose in San Francisco. They create amazing self lighting blends. The formulary is well researched and finished while in trance with the spirit that they are creating for. I have several of their blends. I also used "Summoning Spirits" and "Divination" by Rosarium Blends of Washington State.