Hoodoo Conjure Hoodoo Conjure Divination

Hoodoo Bone Reading

Reading Bones or "Throwing the Bones" is a traditional hoodoo technique for divination. A bone reader will create their own unique set. Traditional items in the set might include animal bones and other items like nuts, shells and charms.. The bone thrower will assign meaning to the various items in a bone set according to the behavior of the animal from which it originates and the part of that animal's body that it comes from. In addition, any curios that have personal meaning can be included in the set, like pieces of jewelry, keys, coins, etc., and its meaning reflects a personal memory of the bone reader.

There is no "one right or correct way" to interpret the bones. Each reader is different and unique, and their set is unique to them.  Throwing the bones is an act of ancestor worship. It requires a connection to your ancestors, for it is THEY who perform the reading, through you and the bones.

The meaning of the assortic curios and bones is established between the reader and the spirits. The bones are cupped in the reader's hands and prayed over with petitions to the ancestors and guiding spirits for understanding on a situation. Then the bones are usually cast by tossing them onto a mat, animal skin or white cloth that is on the ground. The bones can then be read according to their position relative to one another, how they lay on top of or next to one another, or  the shape patterns they make (someone similar to tea leaf reading, in which the tea leaves form pictures and shapes). Some readers consider the bones closest to them to indicate the past, while those furthest away from the reader indicate what comes in the future. There are no set rules, however, and the reader can modify the method of their reading with each reading according to their intuition.

Selecting Your Bones

Some suggestions for your set (but remember, your set can be anything you want it to be and it's more meaningful if you collect items that have your personal association with them --- but the set must include at least some bones, or you can't consider it "throwing the bones")

  • Vintage skeleton key
  • Bone dice bead
  • China doll arm
  • Buckeye nut
  • Whole nutmeg
  • Mini abalone shell
  • Alligator foot
  • Alligator tooth
  • Dog ankle bone
  • Cat's eye shell
  • Cowrie shell
  • Coyote claw
  • Raccoon penis bone
  • Rattlesnake vertebra
  • Snake rib
  • Unbleached muslin bag

Cleaning and Consecrating the Bones

If you have collected the bones from nature, let nature do its in initially cleansing the bones (i.e. ants will eat off the flesh, the sun will bleach the bones).  This process may take up to 6 months.  Once they are cleaned of flesh and debris, you may wish to sanitize them in hydrogen peroxide.

Now you must consecrate them. 

Your curios should be blessed by religious and spiritual system that you belong to. If you are a Christian, I suggest using Holy Water, Chrism (holy oil) and Christian prayer of consecration. (The combination of Holy Water and Chrism is baptismal, so essentially you are baptizing your set)  If your ritual includes a candle, it should be a cross candle.

In Santeria, your set will be dedicated to Ellegua.  Ellegua is associated with St. Anthony. Ellegua is the opener of ways, he opens the gates.  Your set will open the pathway to the information that the orishas have.  Orula is the orish of divnation, and he is the master diviner.

If you are Neo-Pagan. there are a variety of tool consecration rituals available to you online and in books.  I would suggest adapting a ritual that consecrates a tarot deck. There are many deities of divination from around the world that you could consecrate  your set to.

Reading and Rounding Out Your Set

You will start with your base set. These are the initial curios/items that form your begining, basic set.  As time goes on, you will be adding items and curios that have meaning for you.  You may wish to find out which animal bones you should be collecting, at least initially.  For this, I'd get an Animal Oracle reading. Other items will come your way, and you will assign meanings to these items based on the context in which they came to you.

Caring For Your Bones

Keep your set in a special place and do not let other people touch them.  You may keep your set on your altar.  Always wash your hands before handling your set. In addition, I recommend spritzing your hands with Florida Water.

Burying Your Bones

It may be that your bones tell you that they are done. It's time for them to go on to the next plane. You may ritually bury them in a cemetary.