Bone Magick: Or Using Bones, Fangs, Feathers, Claws, and Shells in Animal Magick and Ancestor Work

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Bone magick and necromancy: Witch Radiana Pit holding skull with sigills and magical symbols into the yellow candle light.
Bone magick: the usage of bones is helpful for necromancy and animal magick, as they help to build a bridge from the earthly plane, thus facilitating your communication with ancestors or spirit animals. It also allows you much easier to draw from their qualities and powers.

Bones, fangs, feathers, claws, and shells are potent tools for animal magick and ancestral communion, as I’ve mentioned in the articles dedicated to said subjects. However, I find it absolutely necessary to state in this article as well, that animal remains should be treated with respect, they should be ethically acquired and I do not encourage or endorse the harming of animals in any way shape or form. The bones I use in my craft are gathered and hand-picked by myself from the local woods and the river’s bank and all of them were already old and weathered by the time I came across them.

Bone magick accessories: fangs, sea shells, crab claw and bones.
From my personal collection: bones, fangs, seashells, and a crab claw. These are mostly gathered from the woods of Arad in Transylvania, Romania, the beaches near Carnac, France, and the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. These locations are of spiritual significance to me, which is why I believe they are very potent and work well especially in ancestor work. Photo by Radiana Piț | Instagram: @crowhag

On the same note, I do no encourage the use of human skulls or bones, especially since most of them are acquired as the result of grave robbery, something that I personally find unnecessary, disrespectful, and disgusting. Also, human bones may contain impure energies which will not serve anyone, unlike animal bones which are imbued with pure and natural energy. Human remains contain energetic imprints made by the intentions, will, and even reactions of those they belonged to. This makes them impure as opposed to animal remains which are attuned to the natural flow of things.

Bone magick: Animall skull with magick signs and symbols for ritual use.
In animal magick, bones and skulls can work as effigies or fetishes that represent the genus of a spirit animal and they can be inhabited in order to facilitate communication or draw energy from the spirit animal during ritual. Photo by Radiana Piț | Instagram: @crowhag

Human spirits can be disruptive through those energetic prints, whereas the spirits of animals rarely disrupt the natural flow of things and they’ve most likely never broke through the flow, since it is their condition of existence. Unless your own will is to bind and control human spirits, working with human remains may be disruptive. For these reasons, this article is focused only on animal remains which are ethically acquired and re-purposed, and not on human remains or animal entrails.

Bones in Animal Magick and Ancestor Work

Animal remains such as bones, feathers, fangs, and even shells are used since the oldest of times and throughout many of the world’s cultures and traditions for divinatory and shamanic purposes. In animal magick, bones work as fetishes or effigies of your spirit animals. Fetishes or effigies are usually inanimate objects which can be either manufactured or occur naturally. They are representative of supernatural powers, such as spirits. Animal bones, which occur naturally, are representations of their respective spirit animals and when they inhabit them they become active.

Upon summoning or invocation, a spirit animal may inhabit such an effigy for communion or spellwork. It ties them to the earthly plane, thus facilitating your communication with them and allowing you to draw from their qualities and powers. Likewise, in ancestor work, the animal spirits inhabiting the bones will work as messengers or guardians during ancestral communion or ancestor work. This will help you especially if you don’t already have an established cult of the ancestors. Spirit animals will protect you from unpleasant spirits, they will guard your sacred space and help guide you towards ancestral spirits that will serve you.

Bone magick: a bull skull with magical symbols and sigills on carpet for ritual use.
Drawing symbols or sigils unto the bones help bind the spirit animal to the earthly realm and consecrates the animal remains as a home for said spirit. Photo by Radiana Piț | Instagram: @crowhag

To bind a spirit animal to an animal bone, you may decorate the bones with symbols or words that are relevant to the spirit animals you wish to call upon. They may also be primeval symbols of life and death, that together may reconcile the gap between the two by creating a space for the spirit animal to come into. Another common practice throughout the world is the reddening of bones. By making the bones red, one imbues them with Eros, lifeforce, and it mimics the vitality of blood that once covered them. Usually, the bones are reddened with a mixture of red ochre and red wine in which the bones are laid to rest for a few days until they are stained with red color.

Bones in Ritual

Animal remains can be kept on your altar or sacred space, either on display or kept in bags or boxes, and depending on their size and provenance, you can even wear them. You can keep them in small glass vials or bags to carry them on you, or you can use them as ritual adornments in your jewelry.

  • Ritual Adornments: Fangs, shells, small bones, claws, or feathers can be used for protection, luck, for shamanic practice, or in order to draw from the qualities and abilities of the spirit animals that inhabit them. For example, a crow feather or claw may help balance your life and enforce your quest for knowledge of the greater mysteries, or fox fangs or bones may help you attain the wits you’d need in order to sail through a difficult situation. Likewise, they can be used during shamanic work for protection and guidance when traveling between worlds.
  • Ritual Tools: Various bones, fangs, antlers, and shells can be used to adorn ritual tools with, such as wands or daggers, or they may be used as object rituals in and of themselves. They may also be used as divination tools, by carving or painting Runes on them, or you may even create your unique divination system by assigning a different meaning to each particular bone, fang, or shell that belong to the same divination set. You can also use large bones as vessels for the candles you use in your work. You may also use feathers among the bristles of your broom to enforce its power of “flight”.
  • Smudging Rituals: Feathers are particularly potent for smudging rituals. You may use a feather from your spirit bird or make a wand that consists of multiple feathers, in order to spread the smoke throughout the space you are cleansing. Additionally, you may use a large bone or skull as a vessel in which you may burn the smudging herbs or incense.
  • Witch Bags: You can use bones, feathers, fangs, and shells of your choosing in your witch bags for various purposes, as well as for witch bags you create for the sole intention of working with spirit animals. You may carry this on you, or you may use it while meditating or sleeping in order to help you travel between worlds.
  • Ritual Arrangements: You may use animal remains to form a pattern on your altar or “work shrine”, which is only built for a given ceremony, in order to allow the energies of the spirit animals bound to the bones to flow throughout the altar.  You may also meditate on these patterns, as they facilitate communication with the spirit animals present within them.

Bones in Romanian Witchcraft

In old Romanian tradition, the bones and antlers of a deer were the most revered among animal bones. The antlers were kept in sacred places to honor the spirit of the deer, which in Romanian lore bears Death, the old goddess, on its horns. Likewise, I also keep the antlers of a deer in my sacred space to honor the spirit and the goddess.

Radiana Pit in her Ia, the traditional romanian blouse with ethnic patterns and typically red on white
My raven claw is both a ritual tool and ritual adornment which is representative of my birth totem, Corvus (Raven/Crow), and which alongside my traditional Ia (Romanian Blouse or Carpathian shirt) is part of my ceremonial attire. Photo by Radiana Piț | Instagram: @crowhag

But Romanian tradition also regards certain animal remains as very potent for ‘dark magic’. For example, the claw of a rooster or a crow is believed to represent the cross with its arms broken and bent down, which makes it symbolic of ‘dark magic’. While this is obviously a Christian influence, it actually reinforced the belief in its potency for ‘dark magic’, because for example the rooster’s first song is considered sacred and able to break spells, while the crow is highly revered as a funeral and solar bird whose killing is a blasphemy. So, whoever would have a rooster or crow claw would be looked at as someone who obtained it after committing a blasphemy against these sacred animals.

I personally don’t believe in ‘dark magic’. Magic is magic and the way it is used defines only the magician. Likewise, I believe that any animal remains obtained as a result of directly or intentionally harming or hurting an animal are indeed potent for dark feats. But old animal remains that you find, whether you actively sought them or not in places you’d know you’d find them, are released from the superstition of ‘dark magic’ as long as you honor them. And speaking of bones you find, some people like to actively seek only certain animal remains and dismiss others.

For me, whatever comes my path I believe it’s there for a reason and I don’t discriminate against them. For example, I have cow, bull, and goat skulls, and even though these are not as revered traditionally as deer antlers, they are still as potent and they still belong to a genus of spirit animals that I revere and work with, whether they chose me by crossing my path, or whether they were just there because the woods seem to have become a dumping place for farmers, or that they simply died there and my sensitivity for the animal world, physical or spiritual, didn’t allow me to simply pass by them. We resonate and that is what matters.

Romanian necromancy and bone magic: Ritual arrangement using canine bones, deer antlers, seashells, crab claw, and shark fang.
Ritual arrangement using canine bones, deer antlers, seashells, crab claw, and shark fang through which the energy of the spirit animals they belong to flows. This is a meditative arrangement, for it is only used to refresh the atmosphere and uplift my spirit. Photo by Radiana Piț | Instagram: @crowhag

I mostly use the bones that I have as ritual adornments, arrangements and tools during ancestral communion and animal magick work. I tend to use the same methods instinctively for different purposes. My magick is what a friend of mine endearingly calls ‘felt magick’, which means that I work primarily on instinct and intuition, and when my work happens to coincide with the ‘book’ or ‘special occasions’, it is just right and perfectly aligned in the great scheme of things.

In this case, what I mean by this is that I make ritual arrangements in the way I feel at that moment either to form a flow of energy generated by the spirit animals that the bones belong to in order to form a wall of protection during communion with the dead or the ancestors, or to commune with a certain spirit animal. I also burn incense in a vessel made from an occipital bone and spread the smoke with feathers so that the spirit animals they belong to enforce the cleansing ritual. I also purpose smaller bones for good luck and use them as charms that I wear in my earrings or necklaces.

Bone Magick and Spirit Animals or Totems

In order to truly benefit from the power of the bones you are using, you should learn more about the spirit animals they belong to, what deities are associated with them, and which are the messages they most commonly convey. For example, I have a raven claw that I wear as a symbol of my native totem, which is the Crow/Raven, during communions, magical work, or whenever I want to surround myself with its presence. When I don’t wear it, I keep it on the central place of my altar to honor my native spirit animal. The Crow/Raven is most commonly known as a funeral bird, it’s a great messenger between the dead and the living and during any type of work that I do, I fly on its protective and powerful wings. While the lore of animal magick is very important to take note of, the way you feel about the bones and their spirit animals is also very important.

Whenever you acquire animal remains, make sure you read the energies they bring. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to read bones, so trust your instincts when they tell you that some bones may serve you and others may not. This is important because there might be dormant or remnant energies tied to the bones that may not resonate with you, there may be pain and suffering that there is no way you would know of other than by reading them, or there may be certain spirit animals that would not like to serve you, and that is ok. But make sure you don’t bring bones into your sacred space before you attempt to read them.

And lastly, don’t forget to clean the bones you pick. Try to pick bones that have no smell or soft tissue on them and that have been out in the open for a while. I call them weathered bones because they are usually old by the time they reach this state. Once you’ve picked your weathered bones, simply soak them in warm water with biological washing powder, clean them with hydrogen peroxide, or simmer them in hot water, and then leave them in open air to dry for a few days.

Nettlesgarden - The Old Craft
www.Nettlesgarden.com – The Old Craft

42 COMMENTS

  1. Hello there- how about standard chicken bones? Your writing are similar to mine/theories too. Let me know please. Facebook Kerrin white (Ryvre Myste) blood born witch.

  2. I recently visited my son’s grave, and found some kind of plastic bottom jaw skeleton wrapped in a red string hanging on his grave site. Should I be worried?

    • And ticked off lol
      If yhis posts, I submit HAVING the item in question will greatly facilitate any ritual cleansing you might perform.

      • Hi, I found a fang similar to the fang in one of your pictures in my car as if someone purposely put it in there. Could you tell me what it can be used for? I think someone is doing witchcraft on me…

  3. Hi i have a question about antlers i found in my door mailbox. Someone left about 3 antlers in our mailbox and my mom is freaking out that someone has put a bad spell on us. Any thoughts or ideas? If you can Reach me on [email protected] i have pic of them.

    P. S this article was very fascinating by the way.

  4. I recently found a bone egg in a thrift shop and it was given to me by one of the ladies working there. Its about the size of an ostrich egg and has letters burned into the sides of it. Wondering if you have ever seen or heard of anything like it before. I can’t find anything that looks similar on the internet.

    • I’ve seen something similar used by rootworker /folk magic or even earlier in Kabbala magic aka Jewish mysticism .Eggs be them from either a hen or ostrich regardless, have in many old magic systems been seen as very powerful symbolic representation of the soul. The lettering depending if it’s in Hebrew, Furthic etc will determine the region & then it can be translated.

    • Psychological impact more than anything else. If someone was able to do you real harm by esoteric means, they could do so without you ever knowing. If they do something as noticeable and macabre as this, then they wish you to do the hard work of creating your own inner turmoil. Unless they have done something uniquely spectacular that might make the homicide police take note for future reference, then what you have is the magical equivalent of script kiddie hackers. Dark imagery and other blatant symbolism can be harmful to the weak, but in general these are techniques that are used by those who are less strong themselves, so any serious intention put into it will usually just bounce off anyone who has any inner strength. From the point of view of whoever might think of doing something like that, it is usually a better idea not to bother.

      • May I send sneone a pic. Of my sons wall he had taken after hurricane Laura came whipping through ….as he dies and has been practicing visions and astroplaining (sp) …I’ve circle something that looks like an upside down voodoo skull made of finger bones or chicken leg bones of shape faceing into the house…..it’s at the door frame that’s torn apart…..he doesn’t see it in person or in the pic….but everyone I’ve shown it to sees it clearly

  5. A recent crow skull I acquired broke when a small display globe on the mantel fell on it. A few days before that, the candle flame I lit for the skull singed my hand briefly. Does this mean the Crow is rejecting my attempts to communicate with it?

  6. I have a Raven claw from a bird that was born one-eyed… I saw it around for a while as it would sit on my garden fence. It died and I found it’s remains nearby with this one claw severed, perhaps from a predator attack. I buried the remains with honour but have kept the claw.

  7. It seems Radiana (the author of the article) doesn’t respond to comments. Maybe the owner of the website could help us out? I welcome any comments from other readers, too.
    My cat brought home (literally to me, in my living room) a bird that he had caught and injured, but not killed. It was injured to the point where it wouldn’t survive, and I didn’t want it to continue to suffer, so I “helped” it to pass. I saged the body and said prayers over it, but the guilt is unbearable. This happened a few days ago. I put it in the freezer because I had the thought to use its remains to make ritual items or jewelry, but I’m wondering if that would be bad “juju.” Part of me says to bury it, but another part says it would be a shame not to make use of this “offering” from my cat, since the bird doesn’t have use for its physical form anymore. Would ritual purification be enough to cleanse the bird’s body and apologize to its soul (and assuage my guilt), or would using the remains bring negative energy because I technically ended its life?

    • Hi Ivy,

      I cannot help with what Radiana would say because her views are her’s alone, but to me it seems you are more in need of closure than the bird. The bird already passed away, and according to occult classics the invidivuality or concious part is not related anymore to its former physical shape nor astral remainings. However, for the latter it would make a difference, as it would for you if you find some kind of positive closure. As you say you feel guilty about what happened I tend to advise the burrial, so you can find a positive ending for the story.
      Ritual objects you use should make you feel good and should not be connected with negative feelings.

      As for the cat, it may be in the nature of cats to hunt other animals, but it is not nature, that the civilized world is full of cats, which are well fed at home and just then hunt just for the fun of it. So my adivise here would to equip the cat with a beautiful, elastic necklace and a bell attached to it.

  8. Greetings! To start off my power animal is the Buffalo and last year I was gifted a buffalo tooth from a shaman that I was close to at the time. Since then I no longer have ties to this person because of the people they surround themselves with. Today I found this tooth that he gave to me and the moment I put it around my neck (it is on a fabric string) it it touched an orange citrine I wrapped and found myself which I wear almost every day and instantly cracked and chipped off a large piece. I absolutely adore the Buffalo and loved this piece for a long time but I don’t feel I should keep this tooth any longer. I could feel the energy of the two almost combust. What should I do to respectfully honor the animal but not pass on anything negative that I feel is connected or could be connected with this bone.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I looking forward to your mindful response <3

    With love and understanding
    Kaitlyn

    • This is an instinctive response based upon principles, rather than dogma, but I would suggest that you should try and return the tooth to the shaman. My intentions are towards the world rather than individuals, and my instincts tend to run with that. It seems to me that the tooth was waiting for the opportunity to interact with that stone. Now it has done so, you rightfully identify that its task with you is over, and that it should move on.
      If you return it to the shaman you do not create further consequences in the world, but also you return it after it has completed its task. The negativity that has surrounded him has cracked the stone, and such a symbolic occurrence is not without further consequence. It might be what he needs to help him now.

  9. Hi Kaitlyn,
    if you feel like it is time to part from an old item, but there is some connection left which needs to be dissolved first it would be best to cleanse it before .
    Ritual magicians pobably would use a lesser banishing pentagram ritual or a more complex procedure based on this for it. You could use the four (five) elements to to clean and to dissolve what is left using water, fire (smoke), air and earth (salt) while eliberating everything old and attached to the item back to its origin. Then you could burry the tooth, as a burrial and let nature take care of the rest, as probably earth is the closest element to the buffalo.

    Best

  10. Hi! Who might be able to point me in the direction of what crab claws/pincers may be used for?

    I’ve not much resources and I felt pulled to collect them .

  11. Hi, I learned years ago that my spirit animal is a Spider, but I am extremely afraid of spiders. Can you tell me what this means and if there is anything I need to do about this.

    • This strikes me as very positive, if you can overcome that fear. The fact that you are so afraid means that overcoming the fear would give you an immense amount of strength. If the spider is known to you as having that spiritual significance, it may be that it is the doorway by which you will enliven your nervous system to its fullest potential.

      I would recommend that you get a small tent, and come Spring, you camp somewhere for about two weeks. You will inevitably have spiders try to move in with you. At first you will capture them with cups and put them outside, but in the end you will get tired of that game, and you will just keep an eye on them. Eventually you will get bored of this too, and you will ignore them. From there you can choose what to do next, but as you destroy your fears you will grow your strength, and you will enhance your vitality.

      I’ve tried this, and you do get a lot more vital when you start allowing spiders to share a small tent with you. They used to terrify me up to that point. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of spiders now, but interaction between humans and spiders does create a shiver of shock through the nervous system that can be captured and turned into inner strength. Just imagining it will make some people leap up out of their chair, suddenly filled with energy. The greater your fear, the greater the strength you will be able to build.

  12. Hi, Years ago I found out my spiritual animal is a Spider, I’m extremely afraid of spiders, can you tell me what this means and if there is anything I need to do about this. Thanks, Arlene

  13. hello, what happens when you have more than one spirit animal, I have a few. It’s hard to find bones where I live. Especially now that it’s winter..

  14. Hello, a cat died in a bush by my house. I am considering picking up the bones. Does anyone know of anywhere I can find spells to use them with?

  15. heh. was just talking to someone who found a dead crow and wanted to know what it could be for and rat bones. maybe do a second section of this to suggest what each could be best used for? Also I have a Ia very much like that and am a corvid born too.

  16. I have some bone witch finger carvings I’m curious as to really what they are if you could please let me know I even have pictures of them

  17. How did you confirm your spirit animal? How did you know that it was the right one for you? “Native spirit animal? ” I want to learn, but I don’t know where to learn the truth.

  18. I enjoyed reading your blog and I do share some of your values in the way you work etc. I once visited a small park area and after feeling that there were faeries in there I took some offerings for them. Over the next few weeks I found several bits of wire – I use wire in my sculptures – and the last time I went there was a tiny dead bird. I had visited the day before and it wasnt there. At the time I was squeamish about dead animals a little bit, but the bird was virtually rotted away so it was just feather and bones, I have put his bones into a bottle and the first bottle he told me no to 🙂 but its nice to work with him and I have him on my alter or around when I am working in general. Thankyou for your article, by the way I found it when I was googling cat claws as my cat left a claw for me on my table lol xxx xxx x xxx xxx

  19. I was hiking in the woods yesterday, and I came across a very large and tall tree… It towered above the rest. It had a circle of stones around it and on each stone was a small piece of white quartz. Except one stone had a dark stone on top and not the quartz. There was a large scapula bone- a cow or elk bone hanging by a ribbon, with another ribbon dangling from the bottom of the bone. At the base of the tree, there was an arrangement of stones that looked like maybe a cross but with down turned arms. This stone arrangement had shells and bones stacked on top. Outside the circle was an elongated arrangement of more stones pointing northeast. Everyone I was with got a feeling standing near the tree. One person’s hair stood up, one person entered the circle and touched the tree and got a vision of a bush, and then turned around and saw the bush, I got a stomach ache and sharp pain in my left side, another person got a stomach ache as well, and yet another got a sinking sense of dread or sadness. I don’t know anything about magic/rituals… What does this mean?

  20. I went to a friend’s apartment last night and saw a bunch of old bones on a string right next to his back door. Should we be worried? I cannot specify the animal

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