Guide to Bone Casting
Throwing Bones / Reading Bones
The Casting Cloths
I designed these cloths to make reading the bones easier, but you can always just use a circle scratched into the dirt or drawn on a piece of paper if you'd rather. Whatever you use, it's "traditional" to always do it on the ground rather than a table top, and there are obviously practical reasons for this - the items scatter, you don't want to feel inhibited in your toss just because some things might fall off the table & onto the ground. It's easier to keep track of everything if you just have a nice clear area on the ground to start with.
Casting Cloth #1
This is a pretty easy cloth to read with. It's divided into many sections.
Whatever bone or trinket lands in whatever specific section, you read it as such - if a wing (taking flight) lands on the snake, you might interpret that as "don't travel", for example.
There are 8 illustrated circles of focus. Around their rims are keywords to associate with anything that lands inside. The opposing sentiment is positioned on the opposite side (i.e., wisdom on one side, folly on the other).
The center eye represents the main focus and the issue at hand. I always look here first. This is basically saying "this is what we're going to be talking about here today."
The cloth is set up in circles, from the center moving outward. The closer the items land to the center, the more relevant.
Depending on your specific reading, you can use the upper left and right for the Past & Future, or you can use them for the Moon and the Star.
Entering and Leaving are at the top and the bottom - these would represent things that are coming IN to your life or things that are exiting your life.
Bottom left and right = yes and no, or, you can also associate those spots with the Hand and the Snake.
In each corner, you will see:
a Moon for Mystery and the Unknown
a Hand for things that are freely given, or gifts, or outreach, (or, "yes").
a Star for areas of Hope,
and a Snake for deceptions, or that which is ill-advised (or, "no").
Lets say you have the woman figure landing in the center, on the eye. It's face up. And you have a chicken neck landing on the circle pictured here to the right, the one of passions, desires, worries, etc. (and then of course there will be a lot more going on with other bones & trinkets). Those of you from a Tarot background would have no trouble interpretting this so far as that the focus is on this person's attraction to a woman. But look around...you'll be amazed at the other clues you're shown. Take your time.
Casting Cloth #2
If you get how the first one works, you'll get how this one works. Same basic idea, only there are a lot more symbols than defined spaces.
There's the same eye in the center defining the main focus.
Around it are sections with "hands" Going clockwise from the top, they mean the following:
The top ones indicate a joining of forces. Union. Cooperation. Marriage. Agreement.
The next one represents a message.
Next is a hand holding a wine glass, symbolizing something to celebrate.
The hand holding a pen would mean something that needs to be said or communicated or written.
Thumbs up = "good idea"....yes, etc.
Next is the hand indicating "stop" or "don't".
The hand holding a watch indicates that time is running out on this item - pay attention to time left.
There are 4 circles indicating Fire, Air, Water & Land
Other images represent:
Owl = wisdom, that which you know
Skull = endings, death
Butterfly = metamorphosis or flight
Hourglass = Timing. Time is running out.
Sun = Vitality
Star = Hope
Moon = Mystery, that which is not known
House = Security, home
Snake = Deception. Ill-advised
Casting Cloth #3
I made this cloth for people who don't want all that writing on their reading surface and want to define spaces for themselves.
That being said, though, there is still structure to this cloth.
The circle with the cross in the center is usually called a "crossroads". I like this very much, because it is said that the crossroads is a place without time, a magickal space.
If you want to add a little extra pizazz, here's a spell you can do or make your own variation of it specifically for this crossroads cloth. It's a version of an old conjuring spell. Go to a real crossroads & gather a little bit of dirt from each corner, and leave an offering in place of the dirt (pennies or shells), then keep the dirt in separate jars & when you do a reading, take a small amount from each jar to place at each point of the crossroads on the casting cloth. After a session with a client, gather the dirt into one pile, write their name on a piece of paper & burn it & add the ash to the dirt, then place a candle in the center of the dirt, let it burn down to the end, then gather it all up & throw it all in the center of the crossroad that you gathered it from, along with another offering of pennies or shells, and with the wish that what you've read in the bones to the client will come to pass.
On this cloth, the center point is still the main focus even though there's no "eye" in it.
On each corner there are 4 symbols.
The upper left = Strength.
Upper right (turtle) = adaptability.
Bottom left = Intelligence, or, things that you know for sure.
Bottom right (snake) again, deception, ill advised, etc.
So, people have their own ideas about the 4 quadrants or "zones". You can pull from the Native American medicine wheel or divide them up into any of the following or make your own, or use one or all of the examples shown here.
Casting Cloths 4
The center circle in red represents the realm of Fire or Soul, the core, the central issue. Around it is a circle of people doing various things, I like to think of this as our direct daily interactions with the people in our lives.
The next circle out from that represents the realm of Earth, the practical matters, things you can see, the flesh/body
The next is typically the realm of Water and the emotional realm, however, for my purposes, I like to think of the circles as areas that are getting farther & farther away from the center core, and so for this mat, the circle of Sky represents the areas of those matters that are out of our reach physically - our hopes, aspirations and dreams, things we wish for.
The mysterious latin writing around that rim speaks something about the Hermaphrodite, which in Tarot is the Temperance card. There is a fine line when making that leap from that which we know, to that which we dream of, to the distant cosmos & the subconscious, & I think it's good to remind ourselves to tread lightly here and go in moderation.
The farthest circle represents the realm of the Cosmos (distant) and it contains the 12 constellations of the zodiac. It's the realm of the intellect or the spirit realm. Also the realm of the unknown and subconscious.
This ring is surrounded by the snake Ouroboros. This is the final complete circle and beyond that is infinity.
I generally do not count what lands outside this circle, however if items land close to the images in the corners, I attribute each of the four corners as follows.
Upper right = The Godlike figure holding a lightning bolt and blowing back toward the circle - This represents divine intervention, fate, destiny.
The bottom right = The skull represents death, endings, despite all that we've accomplished and learned. Finality.
The bottom left = the Devil represents temptations, bondage, the absence of love, falling away from our true nature and right path. Ill-advised, bad decisions.
The upper left = the Moon, represents the dark mysteries that are unknown to us.
Casting Cloth 5
For those of you who purchased the first version of this cloth, originally included a lot more voodoo symbols in them, but I simply lack the time to do the whole process justice, and so I've changed the graphic to represent a more hoodoo inspired cloth that can be adapted to anyone's personal preferences.
The center image represents the Crossroads - a magical space between worlds where the Spirit world meets the world of Man.
Each of the 4 quadrants can be used in whatever manner suits your personal preference (See Casting Cloth 3 for ideas as far as what to designate each of the sections as. )
For me personally, I always count the center as being closest to the core issue, the main focus. Time moves out from there. Items at the top of the cloth indicate things moving away. Items toward the bottom indicate items entering. Left = past, right = future. Anything outside of the main circle I disregard. I throw 3 times to confirm messages.
Casting Cloth 6
For this cloth, it still utilizes the crossroads however the items LAND on the crossroads as opposed to landing to the left & right of the crossroad. Meaning, they land North, South, East & West.
Anything landing ON the cloth counts.
The center is again the Sun, the main focus, central issue.
To the left - this is the setting sun reflecting in the water. It represents things coming to an end. The end of the day. A time of quiet reflection.
To the right, New beginnings symbolized by a frontier family. This space represents things that are starting, the direction things are going.
The clouds at the top represent hopes, dreams, aspirations, things just out of reach that we wish for.
The bottom area (Earth) - practical matters that we know. Our reality, and can also represent the underlying issues.
As with the other cloths, my personal practice is to throw 3 times to confirm readings.
Click here for digital download of instructions or to purchase any of the reading cloths shown here on this page
This is such a personal thing, but if you want some ideas, here are a few.
For practical reasons, it's best to throw bones on the floor. The reason is, if you throw on a table, items are going to fall off the table & get lost.
You can have the person sitting across from you, but the actual reading will be face up to you. You can place candles at each of the 4 corners, and on the edges if you want you can place "offerings" of greenery or sage or salt or flour. To get yourself in the "now" mindset, you might want to say a few words of your choosing, whatever you're comfortable with.
You can throw all of your items (bones, charms, trinkets, etc) or, you can grab a handful and use only the ones you grabbed from your bag. Some people also like to pick out specific items to use in different castings.
Once thrown, take out the ones that are unnecessary. Those would be the items that have fallen out of bounds, or landed off by themselves, not in any grouping. I like to pick out quite a few not to use just so I'm not distracted by them.
As you're reading, you can pick up items, or some people like to have a wand or thin bone to pick at & move things around like a pointer. I use a small wooden knitting needle with a decorative top.
As you're going, try not to rush through. You can share what you're reading on your first & second throw if you want to, but it should look a little more concrete as you get to the third cast. Much of this is very subjective and open to your own interpretation & intuition. That's where the skill comes in. Feel free to ask questions of the person you're reading for in order to better understand what it is you're seeing in the bones.
Afterwards, it's up to you how to handle the closing. I do not make a big deal out of it. Some people like to have the questioner take the items like the candle wax, salt, greenery etc & dispose of it in various ways, depending on the desired outcome (i.e., bury in the backyard if you want what was predicted to come true, etc). I would rather not give my clients assignments like that and it would just be really awkward for them and me both. You could argue that it keeps it fresh in their mind and that by doing a task it makes it easier for them to manifest. Definitely a possibility.