Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, community interaction, general heathenry, and modern life on my heathen path, which is Asatru.

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Wish Bone All Alone

Wishbone folk magic conjures up memories of holiday turkeys. Chickens have wishbones too, though, and the other day I found one. Traditionally, two people break a wishbone together. Each person grabs one of the sides, they make their wishes, and on a signal, they pull at the same time. Whoever ends up with the connector piece gets their wish. So what happens when I'm alone in the house when I find a wishbone?

I thought about drying it for later use. I was not sure if that would work, though, since finding the wishbone while eating was part of the magic. Just like finding a bay leaf in the stew or finding a prize in a king cake, finding is part of what makes it folk magic and not just regular magic.

But having someone to contest with is also part of the magic of a wishbone. I thought it might work to hold down one side of the wishbone with a knife on behalf of the landwight.I could have just held one side in each hand, but then both my hands are connected to me so they are both equally for me. Having a tool in between my hand and one side of the wishbone put one side out of direct physical contact with me. So that side was less mine and could be assigned to a noncorporeal being.

I mentally reached out to see if that would be OK with my local land spirit. He found it agreeable and made a wish. I also made a wish. Then I pulled. It so happened that I got the big piece.

Just like with birthday candle wish magic, it's part of the folk magic tradition that one does not tell what one wished. I do know what the gnome wished, and possibly vise versa, because we were talking inside my head. I'm sure the gods know what we each wished as well. But I'm not going to tell any other humans. However, as to the results, I think I got my wish, at least as much as possible. Some things one might ask for either obviously appear or not, but other things are less measurable or less of an either / or. 

I'm not sure I would do this the exact same way again, though, because after I pulled the wishbone I realized that my having one hand pulling and one remaining steady I might have made the big piece go to me. Perhaps if I find another wishbone while I'm all alone I'll try something else. Or perhaps as the pandemic restrictions lift, I won't be alone next time. In any case, I managed to find a way to do this tradition despite the circumstances. I encourage others to adapt traditions to their particular circumstances too.

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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, and the updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. Erin has been a gythia since 1989. She was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. She also writes science fiction and poetry, ran for public office, is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Tuesday, 11 May 2021

    This reminded me of a wishbone spell I read in "Hex and Spellwork" by Karl Herr on page 109, but for that you need some red yarn, a clay dish and mullein leaf powder along with the wishbone.

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