Throwing Bones: How to Make and Read Your Own Osteomancy Set
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. However 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.
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.
Household Items to Include
Other household items to include: marbles, buttons, small toys, clothespins, coins, jewelry pendants, keys, small heirlooms, thimbles, 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 Your 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.
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 the Meanings
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.
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!