bones

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

August, 2018

Claws with Crystals


Merry meet.

Bones are a type of fetish,” Sarah Anne Lawless posted on her website. “A fetish is ‘an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency (source).’ The word fetish originates from the French fétiche which stems from the Portuguese word feitiço meaning ‘charm’ or ‘sorcery.’ Feathers, bones, crystals, and stones are all types of fetishes. Skulls and bones have an appeal to witches who perform spirit work and are a necessary and simple way to connect with spirits of the dead and of animals.

Working with bones is not just for necromancers and black magicians. Practitioners who work with bones are a wide range of healers, diviners, shapeshifters, rootworkers, witches, shamans, druids, and pagans.”

When a hunter I respected offered me wings and claws from turkey he had killed, I accepted. I covered the severed ends all with salt, rubbing in, placing them in a box and adding more salt. When more were gifted to me, I placed the fleshy ends in borax. Both were left to dry for several months. (An explanation of a process can be found on many sites.)


When I received them they were already a couple of days old, but the claws were pliable. I was drawn to having them hold crystals. The shape of some of the polished stones I chose made them unworkable. Thankfully, the pagan store I frequent did not mind me bringing in the legs and holding up crystals to determine what would be a good fit. Certain stones seemed to want certain claws, so I went with it.


There is a lot to be said for a more intentional approach, but as I sensed only one was for me, I did not consider uses and intentions that you would if you were making one for yourself.


I positioned each toe and talon to curl around the stone and then began wrapping it all in string to secure it while it dried. In one instance I used tape and while it worked, I think the string was easier to use and adjust.


After a few months had gone by I unwrapped them and found each was stone securely held.

It would be natural to use them as a wand – as is, embellished or attached to another wand – to direct power. A woman who bought one planned to tie it with a cord that went around her neck so it hung almost to her waist.


Bones carry the animal’s magical attributes which is one of the reasons I have worked with bear claws, a turtle shell and a coyote’s jawbone. Smaller bones have fit in mojo bags created to address various needs.

Turkey is considered a good omen, signaling that gifts are imminent. It’s also “a symbol of sacrifice for renewal and that generosity will open the doors to growth and rebirth,” according to a few websites posting the same information.


Turkey as a totem animal means you are “the abundance generator” for your community.

You have a gift for attracting all the bounty of the universe available to you and you are willing to share. You will often meet the needs of others in a giveaway self-sacrifice form simply because all life is sacred to you. You easily translate your life experience into growth and understanding. You recognize that what you do for others you also do for yourself,” according to spirit-animals.com and other sites.

Awareness, creation, generosity, harvest, pride, purpose, sacrifice, understanding and virility are also associated with turkey.

Knowing this, if you would like to make something similar, ask the Source and then be ready to receive what the universe brings it to you.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

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About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self-taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Interview with Author & Artist Lupa

March, 2018

Lupa is an author, artist, ecopsychologist, and naturalist in the Pacific Northwest.  She creates ritual tools and other sacred art from hides and bones, and is a prolific author of pagan nonfiction books.

The Tarot of Bones is a tarot deck that is inspired by natural history, and combines Lupa’s art and writing skills with her knowledge and appreciation of the natural world, adding the traits and habits of animals to the symbolism of the tarot.  

After reviewing Tarot of Bones last month, I was excited to catch up with Lupa and find out a bit more about this tarot deck and its companion book.

 

Raushanna: I know the natural world and the life and death of the creatures living within it have been a large focus for you for many years.   Your creative connection to the natural world has evolved in wonderful ways.  I admit to reading your Therioshamanism blog years ago, and was amazed at that time at the depth and breadth of your focus on the natural world, and your creativity within your field has blossomed since then. What circumstance made you first aware of this visceral connection between yourself and the natural world and its inhabitants?

Lupa: Honestly, it was early childhood when I first started exploring our yard and the various tiny beings in it. My love affair with nature has been a lifelong pursuit, and has taken many forms over the years. I discovered paganism in my teens, and the idea that there were other people who saw nature as sacred had me hooked from the start. Over the past two decades I’ve been a Wicca-flavored neopagan, a Chaos magician, and a neoshaman, though these days I refer to myself as a naturalist pagan. I don’t believe in supernatural things any more, and my path is firmly rooted in the physical world and ecology. I find my inspiration in the wonder and awe I feel at being privileged enough to be a part of this amazing universe for a few short years.

 

Raushanna: Tarot of Bones is a unique deck.  What were you hoping to offer to those using your deck for personal exploration?  What message or method were you trying to bring to a reader? 

Lupa: Honestly, I wanted to help people get out of the very human-centered approach we have to the tarot. Most decks, including the Rider-Waite-Smith, are almost entirely made of human figures and pursuits. Any animals, plants and other beings are there primarily as symbols for human meanings. The Tarot of Bones, on the other hand, has no humans whatsoever. The Major Arcana and Court cards all have very specific animal species associated with them, and while these have meaning to us, they are based on the animals’ behavior, not the values we associate with them as “good” or “bad”. It is especially important for those who claim to follow nature-based pagan paths to get their heads out of the human sphere and away from human priorities, and to see ourselves as just one of many equal species on a complex, life-supporting planet. The Tarot of Bones is one gentle nudge in that direction.

 

Raushanna: As a follow-up to the previous question, I would like to share how your Tarot of Bones affected my own Tarot practice.  These days, I tend to use the Tarot only for my own personal growth, and I only do readings through word-of-mouth requests.  I usually work with the Tree of Life, astrology and elemental dignities when working with the Tarot and its messages to me.  You have opened a new awareness within me of energy flows and entanglements occurring all around me that I knew existed, but never included in my divination interpretations before reading your companion book.  Because of your deck and book, I’m looking around at my surroundings and my Tarot cards with a new awareness, an awareness that is based on a combination of pure intuition and of “listening” to the plants, animals, people, and non-physical entities around me.  Thank you for that!

Lupa: That’s really cool—thank you for sharing your story! I hope you are able to continue deepening those relationships and understandings.

 

Raushanna: Your deck approaches the Tarot in a non-traditional way, particularly in the card images, and the companion book includes lots of useful information not usually found in a “LWB,” including your lists of inspirations for the assemblages.  The deck and the companion book in many ways reveal your inner self to the public (you state, rightly so, in the Introduction that this is a very personal deck) perhaps in some ways more so than your art because you explain to us all in writing why you chose the items in the images of the cards.  You created and self-published all this in a little over two years, not long at all!  Did you ever feel overwhelmed during the process of creating this unique deck and the companion book?  What kept you motivated to continue?

Lupa: Oh, so many times I asked myself “What have I gotten myself into?” It’s a hell of a lot of work, and I’m grateful that so many people hung in there with me, both in person and online. Being able to post the assemblages the deck was based on as I completed them helped me to stay connected with everyone, and motivated to keep going. Sometimes it seems absolutely unreal that I did all that, but I can look at the pieces hanging up in my home, and the boxes of decks and books, and think “Wow, I really did do all that!”

I have always been good at keeping myself on a task, even if things don’t always go according to schedule, and I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older. Now instead of one single project that I struggle to complete, I have a huge list of books and other projects I want to work on, and it’s just a matter of pacing myself as I work through each one.

 

Raushanna: You shared which card was created first, the card that led you into the process of creating and self-publishing the Tarot of Bones deck and its companion book.  Which card image was the easiest to create?  Which was the most challenging to get right?

Lupa: Honestly, they were all easy to some extent, because I was deeply in a creative flow for that year of 2015 when I actually made all the assemblages. The ones that were the most challenging were those that required more structural creativity; for example, trying to attach a full-sized bison skull to a small wooden door as its backboard took some manual labor that I wasn’t expecting. But in working with the spirits of the skulls and bones, and the tarot itself, I found it surprisingly easy to weave those threads of spirit and my own creativity together.

 

Raushanna: You have mentioned you worked with the Tarot before.  You offer some detailed card meanings in the companion book.  Has the process of creating the card image and/or writing the entry in the companion book that describes the meaning of the assemblage and the card itself caused you to re-write your own understanding of a particular card?

Lupa: Absolutely. My understanding of the tarot when I first started using it in the 90s was very much “by the book”. I revisited all that when I began the Tarot of Bones, combining traditional tarot meanings with more nature-based interpretations of the archetypes and concepts in the cards. So really I had to re-learn each card individually, especially as I hadn’t used a proper tarot deck in over a decade when I started the project. But that’s also why I wrote each card’s book entry as soon as I completed its assemblage, because the meaning was still fresh and raw in my mind.

 

Raushanna: Creating a Tarot deck is, I am sure, a transformative process.  What unexpected and surprising result(s) did you experience as you worked with both the natural world and the symbolism attached to the Tarot?

Lupa: I think I was surprised at how much of myself was still in the deck as I created it. I wanted to allow nature to speak for itself as much as possible, but it’s necessarily biased because I am the person communicating those messages. We all have to experience the world through a human filter because each of us is working in a brain formed by millions of years of primate evolution, and a mind that is influenced by the society and culture each of us comes from. So there’s probably a lot that gets lost in the translation when I try to speak what I learned from nature, and that’s why it’s so important to experience nature firsthand, without an agenda, for yourself. Don’t go into the woods expecting to find fairies and spirits or to have a vision quest or other journey. Instead, just quiet your mind and open yourself to the land itself, without overlaying it with human meaning. It will tell you what’s most important.

 

Raushanna: What role, if any, does this deck play in your life now that it is completed?  Do you have any other favorite decks?  Are there other divination tools or systems that resonate for you?

Lupa: Well, it’s the deck I do daily one-card draws for the public with, as well as one of my main decks for professional readings. The only other one I use on a regular basis is the Ted Andrews Animal-Wise deck, which I got when it first came out in 1999 and which I’ve been using for totem readings ever since then. I, also, like bone-casting, and there’s a simple set I’m working on getting ready for release, hopefully this spring. Really, any divination system is just a tool to help me focus my thoughts and intuition, and since I created the Tarot of Bones it’s a pretty tight fit.

 

Raushanna: You have a recommended reading list in the Tarot of Bones companion book that is Tarot-focused, and you mentioned that, at least in part, through your creation process for this deck you have reinitiated your connection to Tarot as a divination tool.  What processes and/or exercises do you recommend for a novice reader who is drawn to your deck?

Lupa: I like the idea of working with each card individually to really get to understand your relationship to it and understanding of it. That’s basically what I did as I created each assemblage. Study each card, both my version of it and other artists’; read the book, and other tarot books; study the animals that I profile in each of the cards, and the meanings and roles of each bone I use for the Minor Arcana suits; and create your own meaning and understanding of each card based on those things.

 

Raushanna: Your website, thegreenwolf.com, lists your own books; which of your book(s) would you recommend to a Tarot enthusiast who has become enamored with your natural world inspirations shared in the Tarot of Bones companion book, and who wishes to learn more about combining divination and nature?

Lupa: Well, right now the only other book I have specifically on divination is Skull Scrying: Animal Skulls in Divinatory Trance, which is a booklet on using a real animal skull for scrying. Beyond that, I recommend my book Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up: Connect With Totems in Your Ecosystem as a book for helping you deepen your connection with nature itself. I really feel that a lot of people are lacking in their nature literacy, even those who know a lot about tarot and other divination, and so boosting your experiences and knowledge of nature is important. And I don’t just mean things like “I know the four Wiccan elements”. I’m talking about knowing your bioregion in detail, where your watershed is, where your drinking water comes from, what sorts of fungi are in mycorrhizal relationships with the trees in your area, etc. Take away the supernatural and symbolic, and just get your nose in the dirt.

 

Raushanna: What is next for you?  Any plans for an Oracle of Bones as a companion to the Tarot of Bones?

Lupa: Again, I have a bone-casting set I need to put the finishing details on. I’d also love to do a Lenormand of Bones someday, maybe as a limited run since it’s not as popular as tarot. But right now my big project is Vulture Culture 101: A Book For People Who Like Dead Things. It’s a book about collecting hides, bones and other animal remains, including how-tos, advice, and other resources. I’m currently in the middle of the IndieGoGo to crowdfund printing and other costs, looking at a Summer 2018 release. That IndieGoGo can be backed at http://igg.me/at/vultureculture101.

 

I’d like to thank Lupa, very much, for this interview; it was nice to be able chat in more depth about her work!

For more about Lupa you can visit her site at: http://www.thegreenwolf.com/

For Amazon Information Click Images

 

 

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot reader and teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journey To Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

For Amazon Information Click Image

WiseWoman Traditions

June, 2009

Healthy Bones The Wise Woman Way

Every woman I know is concerned about osteoporosis. Frightening stories equate it with broken hips, bent spines, wheelchairs, and death – things we all want to avoid. What can we do? Should we take calcium supplements? Hormones? Fosamax? Can we rely on our green allies?

The Wise Woman tradition maintains that simple lifestyle choices – including, but not limited to, regular use of nourishing herbal infusions, medicinal herbal vinegars, yogurt, and seaweed – are sufficient to preserve bone and prevent breaks. And, further, that these lifestyle choices produce multiple health benefits, including reduction of heart disease and breast cancer, without the problems and risks associated with taking hormones. As for supplements, as we will see, they do more harm than good.
Forget Osteoporosis

First, we must rid ourselves of the idea that osteoporosis is important. In the Wise Woman Tradition, we focus on the patient, not the problem. There are no diseases and no cures for diseases. When we focus on osteoporosis, we cannot see the whole woman. The more we focus on disease – even disease prevention – the less likely we are to know how to nourish  health/wholeness/holiness.

In fact, focusing our attention narrowly on the prevention of osteoporosis actually increases the incidence of breast cancer. The postmenopausal women with the highest bone mass are the most likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Women who take estrogen replacement to prevent osteoporosis, even for as little as five years, increase their risk of breast cancer by twenty percent; if they take hormone replacement, the risk increases by forty percent.

These risks might be vindicated if we could show a correlation between bone density and bone breakage, but there isn’t one. When I found myself at dinner in 2000 with Susan Brown, director of the Osteoporosis Information Clearing House, I asked her to point me in the direction of any study that shows a clear relationship between osteoporosis and broken bones. She smiled.   “There are none.”

“In a recent study,” she continued. “Researchers measured the bone density of people over 65 who had broken bones. Twenty-five percent had osteoporosis. Twenty-five percent had high bone density. And fifty percent had normal density.” Notice that those with high bone density broke their hips as frequently as those with osteoporosis.
Get Flexible

If osteoporosis isn’t the problem, what is? In a word: inflexibility. Flexible bones bend; stiff bones break. This holds true even if the flexible bone is thin, even if the stiff bone is thick. Think of a piece of dead pine wood. Though it may be thick, it is brittle and breaks easily. Think of a green pine twig. Even a small one is nearly impossible to break. Flexible bones, whether thick or thin, bend rather than break.

Flexibility is synonymous with health in the Wise Woman Tradition. It is created by nourishing and tonifying. Bone flexibility is created by nourishing the bones and tonifying the muscles around them. Tonifying is as important as nourishing, but because we are herbalists, let’s focus on the benefits nourishing herbs offer to women who wish to have strong, flexible bones.
Nourishing Our Bones

Old age does not make weak bones. Poor nutrition makes weak bones.

What are bones made of? Like all tissues, they contain protein. They are rich in minerals, not just calcium, but also potassium, manganese, magnesium, silica, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, phosphorus, sulphur, chromium, and dozens of others. And in order to use those minerals, vitamin D must be present and the diet must contain high-quality fats.

* Bones Need Protein

I have heard, and no doubt you have too, that animal protein leaches calcium from the bones. This is only half true. All protein, whether from meat, beans, soy, grains, or vegetables, uses calcium in digestion. Protein from soy is especially detrimental to bone health; soy is not only naturally deficient in calcium, it also directly interferes with calcium uptake in the bones. Traditional diets combine protein and calcium (eg, seaweed with tofu, tortillas made from corn ground on limestone with beans, and melted cheese on a hamburger). Protein-rich herbs such as stinging nettle, oatstraw, red clover, and comfrey leaf provide plenty of calcium too, as do yogurt, cheese, and milk (which also provide the healthy fats needed to utilize the minerals). Limiting protein limits bone health. Increasing mineral-rich proteins increases bone health.

* Bones Need High-Quality Fats

Hormones are kinds of fats, and cholesterol is the precursor to many of them. Post-menopausal bone problems do not, to my mind, arise from a lack of estrogen, but from a lack of fat. If the diet is deficient in good-quality fats, hormones will be produced in inadequate amounts. And vitamin D, a hormone-like vitamin, will not be utilized well. Further, mineral absorption is dependent on fats. A low-fat diet, in my opinion, makes it quite difficult to have healthy bones.

* Bones Need Minerals

Bones do need calcium, and they are the last to get it, so our diets need to be very rich in this mineral. But to focus on calcium to the exclusion of other minerals leads to broken bones, for calcium is brittle and inflexible. Think of a piece of chalk, calcium carbonate, and how easily it breaks. A six-and-a-half year study of 10,000 white women over the age of 65 found that “Use of calcium supplements was associated with increased risk of hip and vertebral fracture; use of TumsÔ antacid tablets was associated with increased risk of fractures of the proximal humerus.” The other minerals found in bone lend it flexibility. When we get our calcium from herbs and foods (containing a multitude of minerals) we nourish healthy bones.

* Extracting Minerals

From the Wise Woman perspective, the perfect way to maintain bone health, bone flexibility, and resistance to fracture is to use mineral-rich herbs and foods. Because minerals are bulky and do not compact, we must consume generous amounts to make a difference in our health. Just as eating a teaspoon of carrots is laughable, so is taking mineral-rich herbs in capsule or tincture form. Because minerals are rock-like, we need to break open cell walls to get at them. Raw, fresh foods do not deliver minerals to our bodies.

To extract minerals, we need heat, time, and generous quantities of plant material. I prefer to extract minerals into water or vinegar. To make a nourishing herbal infusion, I pour one quart/liter boiling water over one ounce/30 grams of dried herb in a canning jar, covering it tightly, and letting it brew overnight. In the morning, I strain out the mineral-rich liquid and drink it – over ice or heated, with honey or milk, mixed with black tea, seasoned with mint, spiked with rum, however you want it. You can drink the entire quart in one day, but do finish it within two.

My favorite nourishing herbal infusions are made from oatstraw (Avena sativa) or nettle (Urtica dioica) or red clover (Trifolium pratense) or comfrey leaves (Symphytum uplandica x). I sometimes add a little bit of aromatic herb such as peppermint (Mentha pipperata), lemon balm (Melissa off.), or bergamot (Monarda didyma) to change the flavor.

To extract minerals from fruits and vegetables, I cook them for long periods of time, or until there is color and texture change, evidence that the cell walls have been broken.  Kale cooked for an hour delivers far more mineral to your bones than lightly steamed kale. Fresh juices contain virtually no minerals. Cooking maximizes the nutrients available to us, especially the minerals.

* Herbs Are Mineral Powerhouses

Eating a cup of cooked greens every day is difficult, even for the most motivated woman. But drinking nourishing herbal infusions, eating seaweeds, and using medicinal herbal vinegars is easy. They are tasty, fun to prepare and use, and add a big nutritional plus with virtually no calories attached. Nourishing herbs and garden weeds are typically far richer in minerals than ordinary foodstuffs. Not only are nourishing herbs exceptional sources of minerals, their minerals are better at preventing bone breaks than supplements.

The ability of herbs to counter osteoporosis may be more complex than their richness of minerals, however. The minerals in green plants seem to be utilized more readily by the body and to be ideal for keeping bones healthy.  Dr. Campbell, professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, has done extensive research in rural China where the lowest known fracture rates for midlife and older women were found. He says, “The closer people get to a diet based on plant foods and leafy vegetables, the lower the rates of many diseases, including osteoporosis.”
In Summation

My own experiences in helping women regain and maintain bone density and flexibility have led me to believe that life-style modifications work exceptionally well for motivated women who wish to avoid the risks and expense of long-term pill use. Nourishing herbal infusions, mineral-rich herbal vinegars, yogurt, and seaweed, combined with attention to tonification of the muscles, unfailingly increases bone density and creates flexible, healthy bones and women.

Green blessings to you all.

8 Keys to Healthy Bones

1. Good nutrition for your mother while pregnant with you.
2. Good nutrition for you during the formation of your bones.
3. Monthly menses throughout your fertile years, especially before 30.
4. Special attention to maintaining high levels of protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins from herbs and foods in your diet when menses cease during pregnancy, lactation, or after menopause.
5. Regular rhythmical movement, the faster the better, daily.
6. Consistent practice of yoga, tai chi, or any strengthening, opening, flexibility-building discipline.
7. Chop wood, carry water.
8. Eat yogurt.