Interviews,  Reviews

Book Review and Interview – The Bones Fall in a Spiral: A Necromantic Primer by Mortellus

Book Review

The Bones Fall in a Spiral:
A Necromantic Primer

by Mortellus 

Publisher: Crossed Crow Books

272 Pages

Publication: October 3, 2023



“The purpose of an author is to preserve knowledge… the purpose of any who work with the dead is to preserve the history of humanity in flesh and headstone.” – Mortellus

I recently had the privilege of talking with Mortellus, author of the newly released title, The Bones Fall In A Spiral: A Necromantic Primer. I had the pleasure of reading their previously published title, Do I Have to Wear Black: Rituals, Customs & Funerary Etiquette for Modern Pagans and was anticipating another great read. I was not disappointed!

(PaganPages.Org) Robin Fennelly: Given the long-standing stigma and stereotyping around necromancy and the related arts of death within and outside of the pagan community, what prompted you to determine the time was now to write this primer?

Mortellus: I really don’t let myself be led by what are perceived as trends or stereotypes of those sorts. I’m just not very interested in that. For me, this is work that I believe should be out there. It’s work that I’m doing for the dead, the dying. It’s work I’m doing for the gods that I work with, so I’m putting it out there for them. It’s not really about the community. And if no one buys it, I will still be satisfied knowing that I created what I needed to create.

RF: As a Medium do you find this a distraction with your work as a Mortician? Do you create hard boundaries or shut off while doing your mortuary work?

M: I’ll answer that by describing a different part of my life if that’s okay. I wish that I could do what you’re saying because boundaries are good and healthy, and it’s nice to do that sometimes. But in this whole other part of my life where I’m a parent and have two 5 year olds, it’s not always helpful to have two five year olds chattering in your ear as you go about your work. There are moments where you wish that was not a thing, and you could say “Please go away and let mommy do their work”. But, I don’t get to do that there, and I don’t do it with the dead either.

I know that with my children I have a responsibility to caretake them because I’m the only parent they have. And when it comes to the dead, they don’t always have someone else, so I keep a similar boundary. Not to say, that I look at the dead as my children, but I do look at my role as a similar form of caretaking. You don’t have to look at your magic or role with the dead as a parental one, but I think lots of us are caretakers in lots of unexpected ways like this.

RF: I was very impressed with the thoroughness and detail of the information shared in The Bones Fall In A Spiral. I found it to be accessible to everyone regardless of level of experience in necromancy. Was this intended?

M: I’m glad that you felt that way about it, because that was really a goal for me, because I feel like it’s so couched in stereotypes, and so shrouded behind these pseudo mysteries that people like to put around it, when they’re talking about it. I wanted to really strip that away and show people that we all die, so this magic is for everyone and even if you don’t feel like you’re in it today, and even if you don’t feel like it’s magic that you’ll ever do, or use in your life – you’re going to use it at some point. Whether you do it now or you do it after your death, you will be participating in your going on to take on another shape and form in death.

RF: How would you define necromancy?

M: Necromancy, as a term we use, is really different today than it might have been used historically. I always use the term quite broadly to define any magic or mundane or religious practice that pertains to the dead or involves the dead in any way.

A mortician is a necromancer, a clergy person who does funerals is a necromancer. A person who does divination with the dead is a necromancer. A psychopomp is definitely a necromancer. And, a medium is definitely a necromancer.

In that way, necromancy can mean a lot of things, and people’s understanding of necromancy can also mean a lot of things. And, that’s probably my biggest soapbox. Like, “hey, let’s don’t look at that word as something spooky”. It’s almost silly the way people think about the word.

Instead, let’s think about it in terms of any work we’re doing with and around death. So, I think that if you start from that baseline, my thought process was, that with the book let’s really take everything and sort through and really talk about how these practices can really be an everyday part of your life. I really think that it’s about being service oriented and, how you can bring that into your practice.

RF: Could you speak more deeply to this definition as it relates to being service-oriented?

M: At any point in history, people who have worked for the dead have always been lower casts, the poor women, people of color, and others who lived common lives and had little. Working with the dead has always been about doing something undesirable, and doing it in service to the bereaved. I think that being a necromancer is the same thing, it’s about doing that kind of social work that nobody else really wants to be doing; or is a little uncomfortable with. And, you know that it’s going to make you, yourself, a little undesirable; but you do it because you need to be doing it and because someone needs to be doing it.

It is a service, and it’s about being a voice for people that don’t have one; about being there for the bereaved; being there for all those who are different. You know it’s all well and good to talk about the magical side of things, those banner workshops and fun stuff and writing books but the truth is, 90 % of what I do is take email messages from strangers at three in the morning where they found my book and, they needed somebody to talk to and they have a question about someone they loved who just died. Or, they’re in a bad funeral situation and they don’t know how to talk to a funeral director in a meaningful way to communicate their needs. They want to ask me to help them and all day, every day, all night, every night I take messages like that to help each and every person who asks me to, because that’s the service we give when I work with the dead.

RF: Do you believe the dead are ever unreachable? What about reincarnation?

M: The thought or idea of the soul as something singular is a very modern idea, and a very crucial part of your question and the crux of it is the Christianized idea of the Soul. Because, if we believe in reincarnation there’s one piece of the soul and then it’s gone. Or, we believe they’re haunting us or they’re doing whatever. If there’s one piece of them, then there’s this singlular point that is the Soul. But again, it’s a very modern idea, and a very Christian idea.

I rely on the Khemetic (Ancient Egyptian) concept of the soul, which is the soul in nine parts. Only one part of that soul, in accord with their funerary rites, reincarnates and moves on. The rest of these pieces have tasks, and they’re off and doing other stuff.

I don’t believe there’s ever a point in which that person is unreachable. There is always piece of them with which to reconnect. And that’s not something I’ve ever found difficulty with. Obviously, there are specific circumstances around each person you’re trying to connect with. For example, an infant that lived only one day. You may find their energy, but we’re not talking about a person who had a fully formed personality or language. So, what is there to connect with? Not much. You can find the energy, but it’s going to be really narrow. That can be really different from someone who lived until their eighties and had an incredible amount of life experience with which you can connect, and you can have meaningful dialogue with them. So, it is circumstantial and there’s all sorts of different elements in play depending on the person you’re contacting and your level connection to them. But, I don’t think there’s ever a point in which this can’t work.

I do also want to be clear that while, on a personal gnosis level, I do believe that the dead have some tasks to complete after they die, and lots of different faith practices support that idea, my comments in the book about waiting three months, truly surrounds mundane grieving more than anything. I do think it is really, really important for the living to allow themselves some time to grieve, and while there’s no time line for grief, we sort of know in the Scientific community this 3-month period. There is a window in there where it gets less difficult, and we’re looking at around three months, it’s just less raw.

And, we also know studies have shown that individuals in communities that espouse magical thinking; like a big community grieve worse on a mundane level, because they’re more apt to spend a lot of time fixated on connecting with the deceased, right? And that’s bad. for the living. I really do encourage your readers to take the time and to grieve as a person on a mundane level before making magical connection with the dead, because that’s bad for you. And, it’s bad for them. You don’t want a sort of codependent relationship with your newly deceased loved one, right?

RF: You speak in your book about creating specific tools for your necromantic work. Some, such as the Skeleton Key make use of human bones in the creation. How would you find these sources? Responsible Sourcing? Amazon? Legitimacy of the purchases?

M: There is quite a lot of scientific supply available on Amazon, so I’ll answer your question two ways. There are medical supplies all over the world that sell specimens for study or for artists to use. They’re not inexpensive- a skull can run around $3000, so acquiring them is not financially easy. I do have some level of access, just because I’m in places that might make use of human specimens. I might happen to be visiting a school and volunteering and they have a specimen that got broken. Let’s say it’s going to be ground up or disposed of. I could say, that I would adopt it and they usually let me take it with a wink and a smile and say I will have to make a donation. So, that’s one option. That kind of stuff happens. Just keeping your eye out in the community. For example, in the 1950s, all dentists were assigned a skull with their dental equipment. So, finding a retiring dentist who may still have one in his collection or just keeping an eye out for those kinds of estate sales.

But my second answer, and that’s my favorite answer is that you may know someone who’s had a hip replacement or similar surgery. Did you know that when you have that surgery, you could have said that as a religious right, I would like to have that bone.

RF: I actually did not know that and when I read about that in your book, I thought that would have been interesting to do when I had my hip surgeries, but I also have heard occasion where people have asked that and were told they could not have the bone because it must be sent out for pathology.

M: When that occurs, that hospital or pathology department has lied to them because they did not want to do it. I want to be very clear that if they (the individual) says that as a religious right, I would like that returned to me, they (the hospital) MUST. And, if they say no, you should tell them you will get legal involved. If they say, we need to take pathology samples, tell them that they can freeze and take a slice. They must by law return them to you. And you can request that their return to you either in preservative or not in preservative. I always ask for not in preservative because I am often drying things out.

I always tell people when they have surgeries that I would be happy to distribute the bone or other body parts back out into the community in some way. Most of the times they do, so I’ll find ways to put them back out to other folks who want them. So, for your readers, if you or your, your friend or your loved one are having your hip replaced or your knee replaced, and you don’t want it, but you would like it to be sent out to some inspiring necromancer in the world, you write me an email, and I’ll make sure that it finds up somewhere that it will be very loved. This a very ethical, responsible source for human bones.

RF. In The Bones Fall In A Spiral, you have a section speaking about organ donors and The Honor Walk. Could you elaborate on this?

M: LifeBanc handles a lot of organ donations. You would be amazed. These honor walks are well and vastly attended. Everyone stops what they’re doing. in house. These are very special events and people. People take that moment of silence for this person, who is truly a liminal space there, being held on life support, neither living nor dead so that their friends can be harvested and directly taken to someone who needs them, and everyone holds a breath for them.

Video Link: LifeBanc- The Honor Walk

RF: What do you consider to be the single most important take away from your book?

M: That necromancy is for everyone. That necromancy is a fundamental part of everybody’s magick already, you’re just not looking at it. You’ve got to turn around and look at it again. And, that if you can find that place to incorporate not just your life, the life you are living and the life that you are supporting while incorporating your immortality and the death of others into the work, even if it’s only meaningful acceptance as part of it, that it will become meaningful to you and meaningful to your practice. As I write in the book, the first act of necromancy is always to raise yourself out of death. You cannot meaningfully do any kind of work mundane or magickal if you don’t know how to live. So, get up every day and raise yourself out of death.

Would I Recommend:

The Bones Fall In A Spiral: A Necromantic Primer by Mortellus is an important read regardless of spiritual practice or disposition. As is stated by the author repeatedly, we all hold a vested interest in Death, as it will one day be everyone’s companion.

If you are looking for a deepening of your connection to your beloved ancestors, work in a profession where death is prominent, wish to understand the nature of death without the prescriptives and dictates for what death looks like in our culture, this is the book for you. There is no real “mystery” in death other than what we choose to shield ourselves from. The Bones Fall In A Spiral: A Necromantic Primer affirms life and the experience of the living in the most authentic way in celebrating death and the dead. Eagerly awaiting the fourth book!

About the Author: Mortellus

Mortellus is a lineaged Third Degree Gardnerian High Priestex of the Long Island Line. They are presently busy at work on their fourth book. In addition to their role as High Priestex, Mortellus is a mortician, and holds degrees in design, education, fine arts, and mortuary sciences. Their areas of expertise include necromancy, necrobotany, mediumship, and the funerary rites of minority faith groups. Currently residing in western North Carolina on three acres that doubles as the covenstead for the Coven of Leaves with their spouse, adult child, AMAB/AFAB twins, and dog; generally wishing there was more time in the day for hiding in the studio and playing with clay. You can follow Mortellus and all their work by visiting their website at:


The Bones Fall in a Spiral on Amazon




About the Author:

Robin Fennelly

Robin Fennelly is an Elder within The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition and serves as High Priestess of Coven of the Mystic Path, the 12th Coven within the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition. She teaches and facilitates classes for the Pagan Experience Study Group that serves as foundation for membership within Coven of the Mystic Path.

Her spiritual journey is strongly rooted in both Eastern philosophy and the Western Magickal systems from which she has formed a core foundation that is diverse in knowledge and rich in spiritual practice.  A life-long learner, her practice has evolved from the classical and philosophical teachings of books, practical experience and enrichment of this knowledge base by attending workshops of various spiritual traditions presented by master teachers.

Robin formally came to the Wiccan path in 1994. Following a practice as a solitary for 2 years, she dedicated to Oak and Willow Coven of The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition in November of 1996. She received her 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th (Elder) degrees within the Assembly Tradition and has served as High Priestess of two ASW covens since Samhain of 2001 and the Winter Solstice of 2015.

As a teacher of esoteric and magickal studies she uses Energetic Anatomy, Tarot, Astrology, Hermetic Qabala, Eastern Philosophy, and Numerology as the foundations of her diverse selection of workshops and writings for more than 25 years. Exploration of varied energetic protocol has been the focus of her work for some time now and the information gained through direct experience informs all of her magickal and spiritual work.

Robin’s writings have been featured online, and in print Internationally.  She has authored several books incorporating her unique style of writing making use of poetry, prose and pathworking to enhance the concepts presented.  She has taught extensively throughout the Pagan community, including Sacred Space Conference, Spring Magick, Between the Worlds Interfaith Conference and Free Spirit Gathering Festival. Her most recent projects include a channel on youtube: A Journey to the Inner Chamber. She also shares audio pathworkings and ritual on her bandcamp site: Teachings on the Path with Robin.

Robin is the owner of Holistic Embrace providing services for mind, body and spirit such as Tarot readings, Astrology reports, Spiritual Guidance and other related offerings.  She lives in Eastern Pennsylvania and her life is blessed by a 40+- year marriage, five children and the opportunity to work in the field of public education.

Robin’s Website:
Coven of the Mystic Path, ASW:

Her books can be found on Amazon or purchased directly through her website:
For more info:

The Inner Chamber, Vol. 1 It’s Written in the Stars-Astrology
The Inner Chamber, Vol. 2 Poetry of the Spheres-Qabalah
The Inner Chamber, Vol. 3 Awakening the Paths-Qabalah
The Light of SELF: Consciousness, Spiritual Practice and Learning to
Magickal Verse: A Collection of Poetry and Prose
A Year of Gaia: The Eternal Cord
The Elemental Year: Aligning the Elements of SELF
Temple of the Sun and Moon: Luminous Devotions
Sleeping with the Goddess: Nights of Devotion
A Weekly Reflection: Musings for the Year
The Magickal Pen: A Collection of Esoteric Writings
The Enchanted Gate: Musings on the Magick of the Natural World
The Temple of the Sun: An Astrological Solar Year
Writings in the Shadow: An Exploration of the Shadow Nature