In the frozen energy of January, go boldly forward into the world of spirits, taking your witchery deep into divining the year ahead, learning a new practice (cleromancy) and turning inward. Hail the Hekate of January, Mistress of Bones, Darkness and Truth!
January is such a desolate time and place. Hekate can feel distant for those of us who’ve chosen to walk forward into the new year, leaving behind the dark warmth of her protective cave. Witches, we walk both in the worlds of force and form. January is a time when the material realm beckons, whether through taking stock of our lives or dealing with the harsh weather. This is a time for going forward, and leaving her torchlight behind us. For those of us who’ve experienced rebirth, and/or love the autumnal underworld energy, January can be a difficult time. More so for those who face emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological challenges. January is hard on the bones and spirit, beautiful creatures.
It is the time after rebirth, when we may find ourselves in a state of uncertainty and distress. This seasonal psychodrama plays out during winter, after the emotional depths of Samhain and Hekate’s Holy Darkness.
Hekate’s emergence during the spring, guides both ourselves and Persephone forward to the delights of her garden, the bounty of summer, and the promise of brighter days. So many of us use psychodrama for healing and in seeking the mysteries. Journeying that goes both deep inside of ourselves and into the other worlds typically relies on a guiding script, much like the ancients used in their quest for relief from mental illness and to understand her mysteries. While our techniques may vary, our goals are very much the same. Using bones in witchcraft is similar. Hekate’s ancient witches relied on the bones in so many ways, from using them in oracular workings to necromancy. Today, we’re unlikely to take an animals life for magick, but the bones remain. Their spirits call out for us to involve them in our spells and divination. The compulsion to control the wheel of time and bring about desired outcomes is eternal for the witch.
Turn to the Bones & Stones
January reveals all, including the bones and stones that occupy the landscape. I’ve written a bit about animal spirit magick in this article. Stones that were associated with Hekate in antiquity include red jasper and obsidian. Modern practitioners associate many others, in particular smoky quartz. Clear or white quartz can also be included in Hekate’s Mine, although it is a contemporary addition. The thing I find curious about our current obsession with “crystals” (I really don’t care for that word) is that so, so many practitioners have them but have no idea how to truly use them. Stones, like bones, have spirits. Like all things, they have distinct personalities that lend themselves well to certain endeavors. A certain type of stone – like an animal – will have typical characteristics and abilities. However, individuals may vary in what they can do. Stones, like bones and botanicals, work much better when we communicate with them. I feel sad for the poor stones that are valued only as pretty objects. How lonely they must be for the witches’ touch.
Witches Walk With Spirits of All Kinds
Connecting with any spirit, whether stone or animal, requires opening up our energy field, reaching out and then interacting with them. It’s a simple process that is infinitely complex in practice. If you’re new to spirit work, start with an easy going stone like clear quartz, then move up to more demanding ones like that smoldering smoky quartz. Invest in a good guide to help you learn the standard properties, but always trust what you learn through interacting with the spirit more. Sit with a spirit, whether bone or botanical, listen to it and learn. This year, take your witchcraft deeper, not wider. Stone spirit communication is an excellent place to begin.
The Magick of the Bones
Animal spirit magick using bones and other pieces can be more challenging that working with stones. I’m picky about my bones. Some I share with all of you, while others prefer to stay out of the public eye. I’ve never yet paid money for any bones. They come to me on their own, through finding and gifts. I’ve had similar experiences with special stones, from a huge piece of obsidian I found on a suburban street to the lake rock that Aidan dragged home that’s become a most excellent witchery help-mate.
Divination: Cards & Cleromancy
With the beginning of the new calendar year and the fidgety feelings brought about by rebirth, there’s a strong pull towards divination right now. While those magickal cards are often a comfortable companion, the bones and stones offer us a deeper opportunity to finding truth and seeing the future. Doing a year ahead forecast using a 13 card spread, with one card/month and the middle card as your significator (personal dominant energy for the year ahead) is a great practice. If you have a Wheel of the Year, or even use a photo of Hekate’s Wheel, you can place the cards around it at the appropriate places to harness the energy of the months, seasons and sabbats to make your reading more accurate. Placing a personal sumbolon, an object connecting you to your witchery, on the deck the night before you do the reading will boost it’s attunement to your energy. The cards are spirits, too, don’t forget. The more we communicate with them, the better our readings.
Deepening Your Witchery
If you’re ready to delve into a new area, I’m offering cleromancy as a way of taking your divinatory work deeper. January always speaks to me of new intellectual and mystical pursuits. Focusing on learning a new form of witchery heals the mind while it empowers the spirit. Cleromancy has been practiced from the days of Hekate’s ancient witches. Simply put, this is the practice of throwing lots for divination. Osteomancy, throwing bones, is often used to describe any form of throwing objects for prophecy today.
Developing a Cleromancy Practice
There are so many different ways to develop a cleromancy practice. The key thing is that your collection of objects must be very connected to you for the process to work. Let the objects present themselves or choose ones of great personal significance for your kit. Connect to the spirit of each object to determine it’s willingness and suitability. The objects will also reveal their chosen meaning. Alternatively, you can let the objects speak within a reading, changing their messages to match your focus. I find a mixture of both approaches works best. The placement of the objects within the space you cast them and their position in relation to each other reveals a great deal as well. A chalk circle on a piece of fabric, charged with sigils and symbols is an ideal casting surface. I keep my kit in a cup with a bit of deathwalking oil (or a similar blend that calls to spirits). While shaking the cup or bag, focus on your question, then cast them about. I typically don’t draw from a bag, but that also works well.
Cleromancy relies much more on oracular skills and spirit communication than reading the cards. At first, it can be overwhelming to step away from structured forms of divination. Trust in your abilities to wield the truth from the bones, stones and sumbola in your kit. Start with a few objects. Attune them to your energy by sleeping with them, once they’ve been cleansed of unnecessary energetic residue. Practice casting them for answering simple questions. Once you’re comfortable with your relationship with these spirits and their ability to perform, add more. Below is a list of spirits that are amenable to cleromanic purposes. I’ve developed the chart using their common attributes (rather than the individual personalities, that’s up for you to figure out) and linked them with Hekatean epithets. Use the epithets how you feel led, you can petition Hekate’s guidance over your cleromancy and ask her to reveal which aspect of her you should be working with, for example. Read more about witchery with the epithets here. I added the numbers to illustrate that your objects can be trained to answer numerical questions as well.
There’s so many wonderful ways to practice cleromancy. I hope this bit I’ve shared will inspire you to deepen your divination witchery. The results can be potent truths about how to navigate the frozen terrain of January and beyond.
Read about Hekate’s Wheel of the Year for 2019 here.