Bone divination is an ancient practice of casting or throwing bones onto a surface and reading them, with help from the ancestors, for divinatory insights.
I stumbled across a new twist on this form of divination….charm casting using jewelry charms and pendants. Carrie Paris created the Magpie Oracle, Magpie Oracle II, and Magpie Oracle: Tarot Talismans. These are each sets of charms based on the Lenormand cards, universal life themes, and Tarot cards respectively.
I also discovered Michele Jackson’s latest blog, Bones, Shells and Curios, and read her book of the same title which explains a contemporary method of bone divination that includes bones + found objects.
My charmcasting set includes charms, buttons, shells, and dice:
What you need to create your own charmcasting oracle
I’m rather fond of the process of creating an oracle set by scratch, however, it can get quite pricey if you have to buy all of the charms separately. My advice is to either purchase or create a starter set and then add to it over time. You can buy a starter set from Lucky Mojo Curio Co. or on Etsy from Mystic Cartel.
I started making my own set a few months ago with just 10 pieces and now I have over 50. Start your collection with pieces you already have. This will save you time and money. Some of the objects were found in my craft drawers. Try to make sure your objects have a definite front and back because they will be interpreted differently according to how they land. And consider the size and weight of each object as well. I like to have most of the objects of equal weight and size.
A throwing surface
You will need a throwing surface. Many people use a mat of some sort, or perhaps a shallow bowl. I like using the storage boxes that look like books. These can be found at craft stores. I use a box as my throwing surface because each edge of the box gives information. Many charms at the bottom edge of the box can signify feeling weighed down with difficulties. A lot of charms along the top edge of the box may signal lots of ideas but also being stuck in mental processing and not taking action. The location of charms in the box can also reveal whether you are focused on the past (left side), the future (right side) or the present (center).
A container to mix objects
You will also need something to throw the charms. If your set is pretty small, you can just cup them in your hands and release them onto the throwing surface. I started out like that and it was great. However, my set is now too large to hold in my hands so I bought a small container with a lid. I put all the charms in there and shake it up good. Then I take off the lid and simply turn the container upside down quickly.
Understanding the symbolism
I think it’s important to devise your own method of interpreting each charm or object in your set. When you find a charm or object that speaks to you, it should give you an immediate connection to its symbolism. If it doesn’t, put it back or save it for later.
I see charms all the time that I want but I don’t always get an immediate sense of what they will represent in a reading. Or, sometimes I have a distinct way I’d like to use a charm and then the Universe provides another, sometimes contrary, interpretation. I spend a lot of time reviewing my readings to see how the object should be interpreted in future readings.
The beauty of your charmcasting oracle set is that the symbols are personal to you. In essence, only YOU can interpret your set.
Objects in my set
Here are some of the objects in my set and a brief description of how I interpret them. If you’re looking for sources for symbol interpretation, try dream symbols, tea leaf reading symbols, the Lenormand card symbols or even a book of idioms. Idioms are an integral part of our language and they make great visual symbols. For example, if I see the Scissors charm next to the Cowrie shell I think of the idiom, Bite Your Tongue, which means you’re keeping silent when you want to speak up.
Joined hearts charm. Relationship or partnership.
Gun charm. Conflict, anger, frustration.
Airplane charm. Dreams and aspirations, or things taking off, i.e., successful plans.
Cowrie shell. Communication or news.
Frog prince charm. A status change.
Angel charm. A difficult time where help and support is needed.
Butterfly charm. Change is happening. Releasing the old and embracing the new.
Crown charm. Represents work and authority.
Handcuffs charm. Restriction.
Caution charm. A decision needs to be made.
My reading process
This new adventure is still a work in progress but I’d like to share a little of my reading process so far. First, I like for my charms to have a definite front and back to them if possible. That way, when they land, I can see whether the issue is changing or unchanging. Charms that lay face up show an important issue or problem that needs attention, while reversed charms show potential manifestations and situations that remain unchanged. Here are the key steps I follow when doing a reading.
Read the dice.
I have a number of dice divination systems but the main one is to determine the numerical theme. To get a numerical theme for your reading, you add up all of the dice numbers and reduce down to a number between 1 and 9. Using basic numerology, I use the theme to shed light on the outlook of the seeker and how they are responding to events unfolding around them.
Locate the seeker charm
It’s a good idea to have a charm to represent the seeker, preferably one with a head, arms, and legs to reveal the seeker’s thoughts (charms by the head), actions (charms by feet), and needs (charms by hands). I found the most adorable Monkey charm to represent the seeker and there’s a lot of information you can see just by looking at this one charm.
For example, this charmcasting (above) was done for a friend who had just found out her boyfriend was cheating on her. She said she wasn’t angry — she just felt nothing. The monkey said different. See how he’s reaching for the gun in the lower left corner of the box? The black button next to the monkey’s head represents a mask, which suggests she’s hiding her anger behind a mask, pretending she’s okay. I told her the main problem is that the gun is pointing back at the monkey, showing that her anger is just going to hurt her, not him.
When the monkey is upright it shows a positive outlook but when down it shows sadness, burnout and exhaustion, and feelings of defeat. I performed the charmcasting, above, for my boyfriend when he lost his job. You’ll notice the monkey is face down. His arms are outstretched holding the empty cup (loss) in one hand and the airplane (dreams and aspirations) in the other. At the monkey’s head are additional charms. They show he is experiencing a lot of mental stress (battered side of the grey “health” stone) and his thoughts are about change (butterfly charm).
Locate the charms used as tarot spread positions
I use a few charms like tarot spread positions so I can get my bearing quickly. It can be a little overwhelming looking at so many charms at once. I look at the charms around these to provide more information just like putting a tarot card in a specific position in a spread. Here are my “tarot spread” charms:
The Question Mark charm reflects the seeker’s main question or concern. For example, the question mark appeared near the Scissors (elimination) and Caution (decision making) to reveal my concern about whether to eliminate some of my work projects.
The House charm represents the present position or where you stand.
The Skull and Crossbones charm is like the Crossing position in the Celtic Cross spread. It reveals challenges, worries and fears.
The Wishbone relates to unconscious desires.
The Key presents a solution or advice.
The Circle shows an ending cycle. Whatever is in the circle reflects issues that are being controlled and lessons learned. It usually foreshadows a pivotal period where the seeker is confronted with these issues so they can recognize and integrate them in a positive, new way. In this charmcasting (below), the Police Badge charm in the circle revealed the seeker was acknowledging and processing feelings of guilt.
Locate the Man and Woman charms
I use two charms to represent a male and female. These are used to shed light on important people in the seeker’s life and their influence. In my personal readings, the Man is usually my boyfriend. I’ve been amazed to see what’s been showing up around this charm through his difficult job situation.
In one of my first readings, the Turtle landed on top of the Man. My boyfriend hadn’t lost his job yet but this foreshadowed an 8 of Swords experience. I’ve also noticed the Skull and Crossbones and the Compass showing up around him, showing worries and fears about his career direction. And in the last few readings positive signs have been appearing like the Rainbow showing promise of a brighter future, and a Contract (reversed) laying next to him, hopefully representing a potential job offer soon.
Find the Word charms
I found a pack of circular word charms that have really come in handy. These are often giving advice and asking you to pay attention to something important. SIMPLIFY means to keep things simple. It’s usually an admonishment to watch spending and to start saving more money. When I did the charmcasting below, I was on a reckless spending spree. The penny, which symbolizes finances, landed on SIMPLIFY. The Key on top says the solution is to Simplify My Finances or be thrifty.
BREATHE means to expect a stressful period so try to stay calm. Another word that shows up frequently is BELIEVE. It shows how your thoughts and beliefs are influencing the situation.
Where to begin?
Begin with just a small group of charms that have a definite meaning to you. Next, find some friends who are willing to let you do practice readings for them. I’m working with a small group of friends and doing weekly readings. Their job is to provide detailed feedback as we go through the reading each week. Finally, practice, practice, practice. You will learn as you go along. If you find that you are overwhelmed with the number of charms you’ve collected, scale back. I’ve scaled back and and used less charms for a while until I was clear on their interpretation and then slowly added in a few new ones.