There is a Sotho Proverb that goes, “The body may be broken, as a cairn of stone is scattered; but the spirit is there all the time.”
The ancients used to use the bones of animals and people, long after they had died, to divine the future. They would scatter them and read the pattern. If a person was initiated properly and knew how to “listen” to the bones, the spirits of the animals or people (ancestors) would speak to them of the things to come, but also of the things of the distant past. Thus all that is known in the past, present and future would be revealed.
Some would also use sticks from the “standing people”; the trees and shrubs, whose medicine would be carried through their “bones” and instruct and guide the seer. Others would use stones, the “bones” of the earth. Some stones would have markings on them, much like the runes. The markings on stones crossed over as well to markings placed on sticks and bones. Each marking would be a sacred symbol of a particular energy, or spirit. Sometimes they would indicate a particular God or Goddess; sometimes they would symbolize a way of being, or a consciousness. As one would read the symbols on the sticks, bones or stones, the messages of spirit, the guidance of the ancestors, the love of Deity would be expressed.
But in order to be able to listen to the bones, one would have to become a Hollow Bone. Medicine Wheel teachings tell us that there are four major bones to the human condition, and these bones are not necessarily the kind that you will find on an X-ray. There is the Wish Bone; the bone that helps us to understand that we are co-creators with Spirit, and that, through our intent, we can create any reality we desire. The second is the Funny Bone. This bone is not located on the tip of the elbow. This is the bone that helps us to keep the humor going. The word “humor” comes from the core word “humus”, which means “of the earth”. Humor keeps us grounded and connected to Spirit and to others around us. The Third is the Strong Bone. This is often thought of as the spine, as the spine holds us up and conducts messages between the brain and the body. But it is also the metaphoric spine. When we grow that metaphoric spine we grow courage and strength to stand up to injustice and to champion ourselves and others around us who might need to be championed until such time as they can champion themselves. And then there is the Hollow Bone. This bone is a state of consciousness whereby we become clear conduits through which Spirits healing energies can flow. We are able to connect with the essence of who we truly are and help others to do the same. As we become clear, clean, pure hollow bones, we are able to channel Spirit, through energy, through divination, through our loving hearts, thus rippling forth positive change on a deep soul level.
The four bones are the most important learning that we can undertake in a lifetime. Without them we only accumulate karma that holds us back. But with the four bones working together, we are able to stay on our sacred path and not get lost on our earth walk this time around.