On the Ethical Sourcing of Bones

Written by Rowen.

Ethically sourcing your witchcraft supplies should be a conscious effort and part of your practice. Too often we see a store with a pretty rock or pre-bundled herbs and buy without thinking about where they come from. Items you get in stores don’t always come from ethical sources. This can go doubly for something as odd as animal bones, as the source can be unclear especially if purchased online. So today, let’s go over some ways you can ethically obtain animal bones for your personal craft or collection.

The Food Route

The simplest way to get bones is from your food. If you cook anything that comes “bone-in” such as chicken or ribs, keep the bones. They might not be the prettiest, or the largest, but bones are bones. Chicken drumsticks are the size of your fist but can still be effective casting bones. 

In a similar vein, look to where you get your food from. Check with your local butcher shops, cattle farms or perhaps a hunter or taxidermist in your area. Ask the owners if you can have some of the bones that they would just be throwing away. They might think you a little odd, but plenty of reasons to need a bone – perhaps you’re working on an art project, or you would like a skull for home decor. It’s common enough that it might seem a bit strange, but it isn’t beyond the pale. 

The Wilder Route

If you have some time to spare, are looking for non-food animal bones, and are willing to take many, many more precautions, scavenging is always an option. The woods, the backroads, the side of the highway- dead animals are everywhere.  Roadkill is either left for the wildlife or carried away by cleaning crews. Bring an airtight container, a pair of thick gloves, and perhaps a machete to break the carcass apart if it’s a larger animal like a deer. Ensure anything you don’t take is out of the way of roads or paths. That way any scavengers still have food to find but aren’t in danger of becoming roadkill themselves.

The downside to this is that you have to touch the rot and decaying flesh, which can be host to all sorts of diseases and crawly things, on top of just smelling like a dead animal. You then have to take it home and properly clean it. This can take a lot of effort, provided you don’t have something like a beetle colony on hand. 

If you live nearby a wildlife rescue or a national forest, or perhaps know any Game Wardens, you could ask if they would be willing to give you any specimens they come across. Often on the job, they have to put down an animal or have an animal pass from natural causes. 

Why the Effort

A major goal of sourcing bones ethically is to create a sustainable, renewable way to reduce the waste that might otherwise occur upon the death of an animal. Removing roadkill keeps the roadways cleaner, and prevents the possible death and injury of feasting scavengers. Butchers and hunters would be throwing the bones into the garbage or a pile out in the woods somewhere. The bones from the food you eat usually end up in the garbage. You are honoring the lost life by preventing as much of its body from going to waste as possible.

Let’s reduce our collective waste and start honoring the lives we consume to live in the best possible way – ensuring they aren’t wasted. Even if you don’t personally need the bones, keep an eye out. You never know when you might meet another person who does.

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