i found this little dear awhile back on a walk through our woods. hir skull was poking up through the leaves just as bright and heady as a queen surveying hir realm. i stopped in my tracks and without even thinking, gathered hir to myself. i soon realized that there was much more of hir bone gold to be found under the layers of damp leaves and earth, and each limb bone and vertebrae that extruded felt like another gift, and there were many. i hadn't brought a bag or basket for gathering, so i took off my aran sweater, a long-ago gift from mum and a staple for me on cold winter days, and laid hir out. the green and brown staining made me wonder if bones could be dyed like easter eggs.
i have since cleaned and bleached dearie's remains and they are pristine, blanched, beautiful. i have thought about making hir into a mobile, in which i would crochet hir back together and add some of hir missing bits, as i imagine hir when s/he was alive. i have been guilty of following the trend toward bone collecting, toward rewilding, earthing, primitive living - they are all connected somehow, are they not? is there not a bone craze making itself felt throughout the craft world, in jewelry and on etsy?
i know i'm not the only one gathering and crafting with bones and animal-ephemera, not the only one with a red fox tooth ear cuff and tail, a crow cast skull necklace, a set of my own indigo-dyed cat bone adornments, a gifted antler wand, a cache of precious traded squirrel bones, a grandiose four-horned sheep skull and any number of thrifted taxidermied friends whom i've collected since childhood (and i'll only barely mention here my roomfull of wool). we are, many of us, held rapt in their presence. lupa has written about the magick of animal parts, and hoodoo has a long tradition of using animal claws and bones along with herbs to make their mojo. although with hoodoo, i believe many root doctors don't shy from a human finger bone or other as curio.
i am wondering though if i was right to unearth dearie. if this fetishization of animal remnants is yet another form of speciesism. most of us wouldn't consider having human bones around. and yet while we seem to separate nonhuman animals out this way for adornment or decor, it isn't on surface smacking of disrespect, but rather of honour. we who fetishize hold them sacred. we don't venerate human bones in the same way partly out of human exceptionalism, but also because they aren't that interesting. (although i do have a close friend who was able to snatch up a small bone of her dear friend who met an early death. she found it when they scattered her friend's cremains, and kept it, a beautiful story).
deerie seemed comfy there in the woods, no matter that her skull sung out to me, a beacon. i am not the most observant of kin, something i'm trying to change, but still i need company when morel-hunting to spy the little phalluses. i tend to miss the glorious details, but s/he shone so brightly to me that i could not resist or refuse hir. the problem now is that there is no art i can make, no method of display, no reanimation or imagination that won't fall depressingly short of Hir in life or spirit. s/he now lies wrapped in a tea-towel embroidered with the day of my birth, another gift from mum, awaiting my plans. whatever i decide, i think it's important that before s/he ends up forgotten and dusty with my own remains that s/he be respectfully re-interred.