To provide a bit of background for my Hoodoo Bones system, and to show the way to the next step for those who’ve bought or made their own set, I’ve decided to write a bit on reading actual bones. There are many traditions from many cultures, but they all work well provided the reader is in tune with Eshu and Ifa or whatever the name is that they call them in their own culture. By the way, the official terms for divination by casting bones are osteomancy and ossomancy.
In Yoruba and close cultures, they have diloggun, which is the reading of the cowrie shells, and other sorts of readings according to the Ifa system. This is a very old and accurate system, and I encourage all prospective bone readers to at least learn the basic principles of it or amathambo, the southern African method of bone reading. Then you’ll have a context for other diaspora or Hoodoo methods such as dice and domino divination as well as others.
Because I am of mixed African and Catawba ancestry, and I live in Israel, the Hoodoo way works best for me. I live in an ethnically diverse area in the mountains of Elijah and near the sea, so I cannot ignore things in order to stay traditionally African. You may get the most out of methods closer to your ancestry, but mind that you may also get more out of whatever your adopted heritage is. It is not at all about race as in color, but about the combination of your genetic heritage and literally the earth from the environment that permeates your blood and flesh. Especially if you eat naturally and usually locally, your body has joined with the ground you are standing on. When you are working with natural forces, it is best to be natural, not overly traditional.
You may have a religion, but the Earth does not. One must adapt to their environment in order to thrive and survive. One must also not refuse connection with the local flavors of spirituality or the people around them who they serve. If you put a barrier between yourself and the people you are reading for based on your own personal racist or elitist sentiments, you of course will not be able to give them accurate readings.
If you are learning to read bones, and would like to discuss it in a more private area than the site comments, go to Witch University. It’s free, and you can learn a lot.
Selecting Your Bones
In the general Hoodoo method (traditions vary, mind you), the first time that you dedicate a set of bones, they should be the full or partial skeleton of an animal properly sacrificed to the Orisha of your head, or from your spirit animal who has died of natural causes or legitimate hunting. By legitimate hunting, I mean someone went out to the woods, hunted it, and killed it, or it came to a human populated area and had to be put down.
You should avoid killing an animal that may belong to someone, including those who have new pups. Also, be mindful of your local hunting laws. If your animal is a feline or canine, you do not need to do the killing, and this is not recommended because even if they are stray, someone likely cares for them. Simply wait until you encounter one who has died on the road. If it is a chicken, go to a farm where these are raised and select your bird according to the offering/sacrifice rules of your Orisha, and have a priest of Ogun, a Jew trained in kosher methods, or a Muslim trained in halal methods do the deed. Remember, we are all children of Yemaya regardless of our politics.