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Bone Divination Question

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    Bone Divination Question

    So there's this carcass that's been decomposing by my house for a while and I wanted to ask if it was a bad idea or not to collect some of the bones for divination. And if I'm good to go, how should I go about it without you know... diseases, and cleansing/preparing them afterwards. Also which bones would I use for divination, my first instinct is ribs or forearms, (idk what it translates to animal wise)?

    Re: Bone Divination Question

    Well, you gotses yersef some options:

    First, don't touch a rotting car case with your hands. If it's still juicy, wear gloves.

    If it's juicy and you want to hurry things along, toss the mess into a bucket of water and put it somewhere far from home while it rots. Also, hide it from bears - they love the stink.

    Or... Put the mess on an ant hill until the bones are clean.

    Or... Leave it to nature where it is and come back when the bones are clean (my preferred method).

    Once the meat is gone, clean the bones by putting then in a bucket with water & a couple cups ammonia. Leave for about a week, then dump the water and wash the bones in clean water (they are safe to touch, but wash your hands before you eat, smoke, or pick for nose. Be safe). This step removes fats and any other non-boney biomatter.

    Then, either lay the bone out in strong sunlight to bleach, turning dayly until they are the desired degree of whiteness, OR put bones in a bucket of water & about two cups of bleach (WARNING!!!! Make sure you have washed ammonia from the bone before you go to the water & bleach. If ammonia and bleach mix, they create chlorine gas that can kill). Then go to the "laying in the sun" stage.

    Another option is to leave the bones lie until nature does all the dirty\smelly work for you (about 4-6 months, depending on temperature & moisture ( I generally pick up "nature processed" bones, myself. Stinky dead things are icky).

    As far as which bones to use for divination, well, it depends on the divination technique you are using. For tossed bones divination, I would use smaller bones, like from the spinal column. Some methods require specific bones from specific animals prepared in specific ways, such as the ancient heat cracked turtle shell technique used in early China.

    I am an expert at bones, but not so knowledgeable about divination - I generally prefer not to know what the future holds. Spoils the shocked look on my face when unexpected trauma ensues... which it always does...
    Every moment of a life is a horrible tragedy, a slapstick comedy, dark nihilism, golden illumination, or nothing at all; depending on how we write the story we tell ourselves.


      Re: Bone Divination Question

      As an avid collector of dead things myself, I agree with Corbin. My only disagreement is I don't use ammonia or bleach since they cause pitting. To degrease I use water and dish soap, changing out the water weekly. It's slower than ammonia or acetone, but safer for you and the bones. It's considered bad practice to use bleach now. Bleach degrades bone and makes it fragile. To sanitize, mostly, and to whiten I use hydrogen peroxide. If you're doing a small amount then drug store solution is fine, otherwise you'll want to get a higher percentage and dilute. 20% is a good concentration of you don't want to wait forever, but the 3% from the corner will work fine.

      Another method to de-flesh bones is burial. It's best to use some kind of cage to stop the bones from scattering. You may think it's in dirt so why will it move, but it will. It's also a good idea to put something over top to slow animals from digging it up. Throwing it into water to macerate is the best method if you don't have beetles though. An aquarium bubbler and keeping it warm (not hot) speeds up the process dramatically, but that might not be a concern with small bones.

      As for divination, yeah go for it. There's a number of different traditions of osteomancy. Usually in the west this involves casting bones, that is throwing them and noting positions, or carving/painting them into something like a rune set. In china oracle bones were burned, often this is something like turtle shell, and the fractures examined for divination. It's notable that dice probably originate from osteomancy, probably not surprising since we sometimes still use dice for divination. The talus of hooved animals is pretty die shaped, having distinct sides that could be marked. Incidentally this is where the game knucklebones comes from too. All sorts of bones are used in divination and there's a long tradition. It's one of the oldest forms of divination.
      They moaned and squealed, and pressed their snouts to the earth. We are sorry, we are sorry.
      Sorry you were caught, I said. Sorry that you thought I was weak, but you were wrong.
      -Madeline Miller, Circe


        Re: Bone Divination Question

        Hello! Another dead things collector ("Vulture") here. So, cleaning carcasses for preservation and craft use can be a bit of a lengthy and involved process. There are a few ways to do it. I'd recommend joining some of the vulture culture & bone / skull collecting groups on facebook which have lots of guidance on how to properly, safely and LEGALLY, collect and clean carcasses & bones. Two key tips though: DO NOT boil or bleach (sun-bleaching is fine)! It will wreck the integrity of the bones.

        I'd also recommend checking out the oddarticulations and skullsite websites as they have some detailed tutorials.