Throwing Bones: How to Make & Read Osteomancy Sets
There’s something truly amazing about divination – it connects us to the spirit world and ourselves. A particular form of divination I’ve enjoyed lately is called throwing bones. I’ve recently put my own osteomancy set together using items I already had around the house. This divination set cost me literally nothing to make! Here’s how to create your own osteomancy set and how to throw ‘dem bones!
What Does “Throwing Bones” Mean?
Throwing bones, also called osteomancy, is an ancient form of divination probably originated with various tribes in Africa. Throwing bones as a means of foretelling the future or divining the past might also have been used among indigenous American and South American tribes. As well as by Norse witches and seers, known as volvas, for centuries. Wherever it originates, throwing bones means to cast a collection of bones, seashells, stones and other items onto a hard surface and then read messages from the patterns that emerge. Each piece of the collection means something different, and depending on how it lands will give the reader insight.
Sometimes the individual feels ONLY bones should be used in an osteomancy set. While others feel charms, stones, shells and bones can all be used together as a complete set. The key here is to collect and form a set based on items that resonate with you. If you want to go traditional, and look up the items used by your particular culture, this is a powerful way to connect with your ancestors and the land they hail from. However, if you want to go solely off your own intuition to build your osteomancy set, you are free to do that too!
How to Make Your Own Osteomancy Set to Use for “Throwing Bones”
Putting an osteomancy set together is fun and cheap/free! Typically, if you’re already a practicing witch or nature fanatic, you’ll have most or all of the items you need already on-hand. A set for throwing bones doesn’t have to have only bones! But if you have animal bones, you can absolutely add these, as it is traditional. My osteomancy set contains a bone and teeth.
Bones and Natural Items to Include
Natural items to include in your osteomancy set: animal bones, teeth, seashells, small sticks/twigs, stones, crystals, acorns, small seed pods, coral, seaglass, etc. If you collect random bits of nature, you probably already have some of these in your house or on your altar.
Household Items to Include
Other household items to include: marbles, buttons, small toys, clothespins, coins, jewelry pendants, keys, small heirlooms, thimbles, rings, mementos, etc. Don’t just choose any item you find, choose items that mean something special to you. For example, a button that came off your grandfather’s police uniform = ancestral protection. Or a baby’s umbilical cord clip = maternal love.
The Key to Building A POWERFUL Osteomancy Set
The key to building your osteomancy set for throwing bones is to choose items that hold meaning to you. And each item should represent something a little different than the others. They also should be relatively the same size. For example, you don’t want to include a large birch branch that’s ten times the size of your grandmother’s button.
If you chose to follow an ancestral vibe when crafting your set, I highly recommend keeping your bone set safe on your ancestral altar. This keeps it cleansed and charged with ancestral energy. You might also choose to keep it on your god or goddess’ altar and ask them to bless your bone set. Every once in a while, if you’ve read someone’s bones that had a negative energy, don’t forget to cleanse your set with smoke or sound. I’ve also buried my set in a plastic bag in soil for a week to free it of negative vibes.
There Are No Rules!
Some people choose only natural items like bones, seashells and stones. Others choose a mixture. Still others choose ONLY household items for their osteomancy set. The choice is completely yours! Don’t let anyone tell you there’s only one right way…there’s no divination police who will knock at your front door to arrest you if your osteomancy set doesn’t have ALL bones!
Define YOUR Meaning of Each Piece
Next thing, write down each item in your throwing bones set and their meanings in your grimoire. I had to do this because some of the items I chose I hadn’t fully defined their meaning. I just knew I wanted to include the pieces at first. Sit with each piece a minute and really meditate on what that piece means to you. What do you first think of when you see this piece? How does it make you feel? Are there any memories you associate with it? Write these things down, too. And remember that with each reading and each use, the symbolism might evolve or change completely for each item. Keep notes in your grimoire. It’s even a wise idea to jot down notes on each reading to compare and contrast.
How to Throw ‘Dem Bones
Keep your osteomancy set in a special bag or small box. Be sure to cleanse and dedicate this bag or box solely to the use of holding your “bones”. For a reading, take your bones and pour or gently toss them onto a hard surface. Some people lay down a cloth over the surface to prevent any pieces from damage. Look at how they fell. Are there any upside down? If so, this could mean a reversal or negative of whatever those pieces mean to you.
How the Bones Land…
Observe which pieces are closest to you and which are furthest. I typically read the ones closest to me as being the most important. Did any bones land on top of other bones or are there any “pointing” to others? These could have meaning, as well. For instance, if a clothespin landed on top of a miniature book memento, this might mean you’re putting too much time into your housework and not enough into downtime.
The 4 Directions Method
Some people use the 4 directions as part of throwing bones readings. Depending on which direction or quadrant the bones and such land will determine messages for the reading. For example: if a crow’s skull falls into the east quadrant, there may be news from an occult friend or from a deity like Odin or the Morrigan coming your way! If a baby rattle or toy falls in the north or pointed north, someone might be pregnant soon. Etc.
The Key to Throwing Bones
The whole point of making your own osteomancy set is that these are items that mean something special to you. The more you throw the bones, the more you’ll develop your own understanding and process. Place your new set on your altar and ask the Universe/your gods/ancestors to bless it. Charge the osteomancy set under the moonlight for added strength. Be sure to cleanse the entire set every once in awhile with smoke, etc. And, just as a recommendation from me, I don’t allow anyone else to touch or use my bone set. But it is ultimately up to you!
More Divination Tools:
- Augury Bird Divination: History & How to Read Bird Flight Patterns
- The Witch’s Runes: How to Make and Read Your Own
- Reading Tarot with Playing Cards
SilasSeptember 9, 2022 at 2:03 am
Thank you for giving me light in bone throwing
johnnieDecember 29, 2021 at 8:55 pm
I picked pappilon up out of the street in a wheel barrow and i gotta know who so im crushin a skull and throwin and im not prayin or worried about special little bags i just need to know who’s gonna read it and
tell me what i just dont need it in here crowding th one that came in with van gogh
Julie WilkinsonNovember 18, 2021 at 3:59 am
Thank you. You have inspired me to begin my bone collection.
Triniti ThompsonMarch 3, 2021 at 4:18 am
I was cleaning a house out and found a set of throwing bones. I researched these and became a lover. Your explanation was by far the most informative and helped me love this thank you!
kitty fieldsMarch 3, 2021 at 3:16 pm
that’s amazing but please cleanse that set of throwing bones before use!
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AmandaNovember 14, 2020 at 8:18 pm
This was a stellar read! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom!
CherylJanuary 10, 2020 at 8:04 pm
I absolutely love the whole idea. I know that it’s been done forever, but never thought to do it in this manner. Awesome. Actually I enjoy reading everything from you.
adminJanuary 13, 2020 at 2:48 pm
Thank you, Cheryl!
EllaFebruary 9, 2021 at 6:19 pm
Thank you!! Im just starting out with bone throwing and this was a very helpful and reassuring read, much love!!