Crown’s Usage of Bones and a Pondering on the Community

Unpopular opinion below. You’ve been warned.

There’s this new surge in lots of folks (read as pagan, witches, and other like folk) wanting to start bone collections. I’m totally for collecting bones just as a collector but I’m at the same time confused. Because I’m seeing a lot of witches and pagans expressing the desire to collect bones to put on their altars, shrines, walls, etc but not stating WHY. Obviously, what’s stated below’s my opinion and might not make me popular. Oh well.

I like bones. I went to school for archaeology and I intend to write my thesis, when I go back, on death rituals. I know bones. However, I don’t have a huge collection and here’s why:

  • It’s expensive. Bones are often costly, especially when their ethically sourced, and need to be properly cared for. This is especially true of human bones because it’s disrespectful to possess human bones and not treat them properly.
  • Space. That ox skull might seem awesome now but where are you going to store it? Where are you going to put it where you can clean it regularly from dust, put it somewhere it won’t get damaged accidentally, be away from the element, such as water and heat, and also be decorative? Do you realize how big an ox skull is? How about a ram skull with horns intact? Or a horse’s femur? Bones, like all things, take up space and when you start looking into deer bones (which seems to be a gateway to bone collecting) you’re going to quickly realize how big these bones are.
  • Cleaning bones of the flesh is a time consuming, dirty, space-taking, and sometimes dangerous work. It’s really very disgusting and can’t be done around children or pets. In fact, there’s a long list of things you should be doing and wearing when you clean bones. You can also very easily get sick when trying to clean bones, especially the bones of roadkill. This can be from flesh-eating bacteria to bone dust in your lungs.
  • No need for them. I don’t need bones. I don’t need to showcase a dead person’s bones when I didn’t know that person and have no connection to said person. This is a personal opinion, obviously, but why collect or display bones of a person or animal when I have no connection to them? If you feel a particular affinity towards cats, then I could see why you’d collect them. But just randomly having a bunch of bones for no purpose other than they’re bones and they feel “witchy” is playing to the stereotype of witchcraft (which is totally cool to do but admit that’s what you’re doing)
  • I personally find using the bodies of the dead as decoration without any other purpose outside of that decoration is bordering on disrespectful of the dead. Again, personal opinion, but there it is.
  • Local sources are hard to find and require a lot of searching. Representing your local forest which you work with spiritually by using a deer skull is actually really neat. But wouldn’t it be far more meaningful to scour the woods for a deer skull or ask for/buy/commission it from local hunters. You help out a local hunter and you get a skull from your area.

Now, I use bones for a wide variety of purposes in my witchcraft. For example, let’s say a family bought a roast chicken with the last of their money. Take a bone from the roasted chicken, clean it, break it chanting that with the breaking of this bone so are the sorrows from lack of money (or whatever), and then bury it at a crossroad. Small bones collected for various purposes are kept and tucked into charm bags. A coyote’s toe for cunning and intelligence, to help someone thrive with a new promotion or moving to a new urban city. Bones from Christmas ham and Thanksgiving turkey are cleaned and kept to use in spells to benefit the household and those that have eaten off those bones. Animal symbolism can be attributed to those bones and bones themselves are great as a “foundation” in spell work, a good starting point.

There’s a lot you can do with bones and the bones I collect for witchcraft aren’t, however, for display. They’re used almost immediately for a specific purpose or kept for specific purposes for the future. That being said, that doesn’t mean I don’t have bones in “decorative” places. I keep three cow bones hanging above my trash – to always keep the wolves at bay, to ensure that there’s always a place to start from and that the foundation of my life won’t be rubbish, will never go so low that I need to start entirely from scratch, from nothing. They appear very decorative but they’re there for a specific reason.

Ancestor worship is entirely different and falls well into the realm of “doing your own thing”. For example, I’m looking into acquiring a stag’s skull from Wales, as a tribute to my ancestors. It would be blessed, cleansed, and hung with care as a method of honoring my ancestors. Again, decorative, but serving the purpose of necrolatry.

Now, I’m not saying bones shouldn’t be used in art or education. There’s some gorgeous artwork that have been made with bones, but I always question whether those bones have been treated with respect and ethically sourced before really giving in to admiring them. And, outside of writing, I’m not an artist so I can’t really express a thorough opinion on that topic. I know it’s somewhat controversial but a ridiculously ancient practice. Seriously, bone art’s been around forever.

As for education and reference, that’s obviously an aside and still falls into the questions “do you really need bones or would a plastic anatomical skeleton be cheaper? (Most time they’re not). Often, people learn off skeletons that are older than their professors. A lemur skeleton at one of my old universities was seriously older than half of the buildings we were taught in. And sometimes you need to the real thing to reference for art or education purposes. They’re, again, not decorative. They’re there for a very specific reason: to help you learn. Because you intend to learn off of them, you’re likely going to treat them with the respect the dead deserve.

There’s no need to work with bones if you don’t want to. I feel like the community, especially on tumblr, has this thing where they go through fads of things that “everyone does” that sounds super cool and, in fact, not everyone does, even wants to do, or is particular safe to do, especially for beginners. For a while it was flying ointments, then astral travel, and now bones (at least, from what I’ve seen. YMMV.). Necromancy, necrolatry, and other like gramarye practices are specific fields that bones can be useful for but most people that I see on tumblr do not express their practices as such. I just don’t understand why people want to start collecting the dead when they don’t intend to use them in any manner other than to sit on a shelf. Again, that’s probably just me but I often see witches expressing how badly they want bones but don’t say WHY. Once someone said they wanted beaver bones because beavers they had a great affinity for them. They didn’t want other bones, just beavers. That totally makes sense to me. But I’ve had conversations with people that turn out like this:

Me: Why do you want bones?

Them: For witchcraft!

Me: Yeah, OK. But what are you going to DO with them?

And they never have an answer for that. They just kind of stare at me or abandon the post entirely. Some folks do say “to worship” or “represent X” X being a deity, spirit, or ancestor but more and more are just picking up collecting bones because it’s cool and witchy. I’m sorry but that’s not a good enough reason, in my opinion, to use the bones, the very foundation of a person or animal. I find that’s disrespectful. Again, my opinion but there it stands.

So I ask you: For what purpose do you want bones? What do you intend to do with them? Honor them? Worship them? Use them as representations of your deities or in spells? To create art and an artistic statement? Or is it just to look cool?

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10 thoughts on “Crown’s Usage of Bones and a Pondering on the Community

  1. hocuspocus13 says:

    In today’s world, one goes to the Butcher for any needed bones, which would be boiled in sea salted and vinegar water, to cleanse and purify.

    Bones, for me are of no mystery, for Chefs have been boiling bones for soup or broth for many years and the Hunter has hung his successful prey upon the walls of his den.

    jinxx

    • thiscrookedcrown says:

      No.
      One does not go to the butcher, or at least they don’t have to. Many people who work with bones work with human bones as a part of necromancy or ancestor worship. Others prefer to work with the animal spirits of the dead they find, like roadkill, hunters, and those who find them while walking in the woods.

      Also, boiling bones is not the best way to clean them. It’s really not. You soften the bones so they become brittle and break easily. You can burn them if they’re left boiling too long. Salt and vinegar can break down the bones further, not unlike ammonia which bones were often kept in the past but such practices have fallen out a favor because they destroy the bones.

      Furthermore, why would you cleanse the bones at all? For what purpose would that serve? Yes! Let’s cleanse the spirit we’re attempting to work with! If it’s to cleanse the death, well, that’s somewhat short-sighted. You possess the bone because of the animal or person is dead. Cleansing the death which brought that bone and spirit to you seems disrespectful of the spirit themselves – as if you’re saying “I want to work with you, but only the good parts of you”. That’s rubbish. Animals and people are not always nice and those not-nice qualities can be very illuminating and helpful. White-washing them is, in my opinion, disrespectful of who they were. Furthermore, if you cherry-pick traits of people or animals, through cleansing, then there’s pretty much no point in using outside of a symbol. A cleansed bear skull would only symbolize strength where as a non-cleansed bear skull has lingering energy and possible the very spirit of that bear to give you strength.

      While I sincerely appreciate your comment, it’s short-sighted to think every witch has the same purpose in working with bones and that they can fulfill that purpose or their needs by getting the bones at the butcher’s.

      • thiscrookedcrown says:

        I didn’t overlook “chefs” I ignored it because it’s not relevant to my post. My post is about a witch’s usages for bones. Not chefs. I cook with bones and note I didn’t feel the need to talk about them in the post. You’re eating them, they’re being used. Not part of witchcraft unless the meal itself is enchanted.

        Secondly, I’m not a traditional witch (by witch I’m assuming you’re referring to British traditional witchcraft). I’m a secular non-traditional hedge witch as stated in my “about me”. Not all witches are traditional and I’m not writing to cater to traditional witchcraft. I’m catering to everyone else who practices witchcraft. Your assumption that everyone practices traditional witchcraft is, frankly, whitewashing all other witchcraft practices. One path does not dictate all practices. Your reply is, again, not relevant.

      • hocuspocus13 says:

        As we are very obvious from different plateaus, I write about my findings, I read others to gain knowledge, I try their methods, I add their methods to mine, but I never tell anyone that their way is “not relevant” for how would I know that? Ones purpose for doing something may not be known to me but have revelant reason to them.

        As I am signing off, this is a negative path and one I choose not to venture into any longer, I will leave you with this, I believe that you are narrow minded, it’s your way or no way…open your mind to all the wonderful and productive people, take something with you upon every meeting, sometimes it’s better to listen!

      • thiscrookedcrown says:

        Good bye. I don’t know how you’ve determined my path is “negative” because you don’t know shit about my path (also, I’m OK with my path being as nitty gritty or dark as I need it to be) and since anyone who actually knows me or my other less personal blog would know I’m pretty much the least narrow minded person out there. Whatever. You don’t matter to me. My life and witchcraft will go on without you or your input. You do what you do and I’ll do my own thing. I’m quite happy for us to go our own ways.

      • hocuspocus13 says:

        I will dissect your writing:

        1st paragraph:

        you write about alters and witches and witches use of bones

        not all witches use alters or bones, after all this is not the 1500’s

        human bones cannot be possessed or displayed for any reason than education in the classroom

        you write about an ox, chicken, turkey and ham, where may I ask did they come from?

        perhaps the “butcher”

        stag skull you hope to locate, bless and cleanse

        as we all have our different methods, one way of cleansing is sea salt and water, which after the cleanse, is then blessed

        now, others may have another method, which for myself I would be intrigued to learn, perform and believe in, for there seems not to be just one method to solving a problem, but I would ascertain you already learned that in school

        and lastly, on my opinion, I never heard a witch, ” express how badly they want bones”

        and as any practicing witch knows..secret

      • thiscrookedcrown says:

        I thought you were done talking to me? But sure, I’ll play your game. Just a head’s up that MOST of your comments are previously covered on another blog.

        1) I’m perfectly aware not all witches have altars. As I’ve stated quite often on my other blog (and I might have mentioned here) I don’t have an altar. BTW, I’ve never read a grimoire from the 1500s that even mentions an altar as we use them today.

        2) You’re HUGELY incorrect. Not only can bones be possessed, you can buy them publicly in brick and mortar stores such as the one here: http://www.boneroom.com/. That doesn’t include private brokers. It’s only illegal to possess or take bones that were not donated and/or volunteered, Native American remains, or to transport remains out of the U.S. (without proper documentation). That’s what ethically sourced means. What the hell did you even think I was talking about? You literally have no idea what you’re talking about here.

        3) When I get ox bones, I get the from a farmer. Other people may get those bones from folks such as hunters online. You’re missing the point. I never said people wouldn’t use the butcher I said that they didn’t have to use the butcher. There are plenty of other ways to get bones.

        4) No. I will not bless or cleanse the stag skull as I want to work with the spirit that would reside or had previously been connected with the skull. You can bless whatever the hell you want but as it’s MY practice and you don’t know anything about my practice, you don’t get to dictate what I should or shouldn’t do. Didn’t you say “I read others to gain knowledge, I try their methods, I add their methods to mine, but I never tell anyone that their way is “not relevant” for how would I know that?” (by the way, I wasn’t referring to your methods as being not relevant but your bringing them up in the conversation as not being relevant.) You SAY you want to gain knowledge but so far you’ve come here and attempted to tell me what I’m suppose to do with my own person, non-traditional path.

        5) Again, it’s more than obvious that you don’t know me as I cleanse with sea salt ALL THE TIME. I live by the ocean. Sea salt is used in ubiquitous in my witchcraft. I disagreed with you because you’re suggesting to use cleansing methods that will DAMAGE the bones. I’ve already stated “Salt and vinegar can break down the bones further, not unlike ammonia which bones were often kept in the past but such practices have fallen out a favor because they destroy the bones.” Did you even read what I’ve written?

        6) Was that suppose to be an insult? Look, I’m not saying your method is wrong I’m saying that it would DAMAGE THE BONES. How is that hard to understand?

        7) This post is about my PERSONAL usage about bones and a pondering on the community on why there’s a sudden fad for people who want to possess bones for no particular reason that they’ve stated or can express when asked (not them keeping secrets just them not having an answer.) Now they could have absolutely been lying, I give you that, but I’ve seen no less than fifteen witches on tumblr who want bones for no other reason than they’re “witchy”.

        In conclusion, you don’t know me, you obviously haven’t even read my “about” page which expressly states that I’m a non-traditional secular hedge witch TWICE, and you don’t know my other blog which explains at least HALF of this information (so clearly YOU don’t listen as it’s written right in the title that this is a repost from tumblr so I clearly have another blog which I’ve stated in these very comments has relevant information). This post was written for tumblr originally and states explicitly in the post that I’m referring to the tumblr community. You’ve ignored information (such as the cleansing methods you’ve described are potentially damaging to bones) and whether mistakenly or on purpose misunderstood or misconstrued comments that other readers have had no trouble understanding.

        AGAIN, I’ll restate my previous comment: “You don’t matter to me. My life and witchcraft will go on without you or your input. You do what you do and I’ll do my own thing. I’m quite happy for us to go our own ways.”

        This blog is here so I can discuss my personal practice without having to worry about the drama on tumblr so commentary isn’t really necessary for this blog. I have another blog which is there for debate and discussion. This one’s for me and those who want to read about my private practices.

        Please leave my blog. This is the last time I’m responding to you. Respond again and I’ll disallow all commentary on this blog without moderation.

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