The Oracle of the Bones – Claire O’Neill

The Oracle of the Bones
Claire O’Neill
St. Martin’s Press, 1994
128 pages

I really, really liked this book. It’s the handbook for a Western reinterpretation of a method of divination with bones used by several tribes in Africa. It’s nice to see something derived from a culture that’s not from Europe, Asia, or North America. The author is quite clear about her sources and the derivation of the system she presents, rather than trying to say “This is exactly how the Africans do it!” While there aren’t in-text citations, there is a bibliography, which earns points.

The basic system consists of tossing four bones–a long bone, a small bone, a broken bone, and a fat bone–onto a tri-parte circle, each section standing for a different set of qualities. The meaning of the bone depends on where it falls in the circle, and where it is in relation to other bones. The bulk of the book is dedicated to summaries of what each bone/circle combination means and suggestions on how to interpret it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the casting cloth that originally came with it, but it’d be a simple thing to make. Additionally, since I bought the book alone, I had to get my own bones (though this was relatively easy, considering the kind of artwork I create). The concept is wonderfully simple, though, and those who are artistically inclined can easily reproduce their own set, especially since this is out of production.

Overall, a unique divination system that I intend to make good use of.

Five pawprints out of five.

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