To see the bones in use, check out the Orisha Online Altar’s Bone Reading of the Day!
So you bought or made a set of bones, and now you want to know how to use them?
They’re about the same level of difficulty as Nordic runes. It will take you some time to learn the symbolism if you have no experience with Vodun or African mysticism, but once you get it, you’ve got it.
I (Sheloya) invented this system, but it is inspired by old traditions such as Hoodoo shells and bones, Yoruba and Lukumi diloggun, and Nordic runes. In fact, you could consider Sheloya Bones a kind of primer. This will get you used to this style of divination, but ultimately you may add other artifacts to your collection of bones, or replace them entirely.
If you do ever replace the whole set with your own objects, you should clean your blank bone with salt water before gifting the set to another mystic…which brings me to the first instruction.
What to Do With Your New Bones
The first thing you should do before you use your bones is consecrate them. How you go about this depends on your personal belief system, but the ritual should include:
- asking Eshu for access to the spirits
- calling upon Ifa to bless the bones and give you the wisdom to make accurate readings
- understand that you must tell the truth about what you see, and vow to do this
- pass each bone through the smoke of incense
- sprinkle each bone with a little saltwater
- mark the blank bone with your blood or sweat (preferably from your forehead or navel area)
- thank Ifa and Eshu
Thereafter, you should try to keep the blank bone or your personal/you-bone on your person as much as possible. Don’t worry that the blood or sweat will rub off. Your energy will remain with it. If you tend to lose things or are somewhat absentminded or cluttered, you should just keep the blank bone in a safe place like on your altar or wherever you keep the rest of them. Just remember to hold it from time to time.
It is important to remember that Vodun is not a representative faith. All things are connected, and when through the ritual, you give energy to the bones, they become a kind of being. They should be respected and treated as if they are a person who speaks to you and to others through you.
They also like to be clean and cared for. Always handle them with clean hands, and keep them in a bag so they don’t collect dust, or wipe them down with a moist cloth with plain water occasionally.
If you gain a friend or ally because of them, or make some money by giving someone a reading, thank them.
Let me be very clear on this: any bone who “represents” or depicts a deity or spirit is a fetish. Do not be fooled by the small size into thinking you can throw them in your backpack and forget about them. They deserve to be in their favorite environments, and present when giving offerings the same as your other larger fetishes. Your Ogun bone should not be handled when you are bleeding. Your Oshun bone should not be left to get dusty or dirty. Your Eshu bone, depending on your tradition, may or may not be cleaned with water.
Your bones should be a part of your observances like any other ritual item. Yes, they are portable and convenient, but they are a responsibility.
Ideally, when you throw the bones, it should be into a round tray. This keeps them from rolling away. You can also throw them on a quilt with a somewhat thin batting. If you use a cloth, then roll up the edges.
Reading the Bones
The distance from the center of the tray matters.
- the soul
- base matters
- the glands
- thermogenic mechanisms of the body
- day to day life
- practical matters
- the flesh and muscles
- food digestion
- the sea
- currents and trends
- the blood
- liquid digestion
- spiritual matters
- the brain
The direction matters too, but not necessarily from the top and bottom of the tray or cloth. For this, one looks to the direction finder bone.