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Kitchen Witchin’: Wishbone Magic for Thanksgiving

Sage has been celebrating the Wheel of the Year for 25+ years. Being a holiday junkie, she just can't get enough of the sabbats!

Wishbone Magic

Thanksgiving is coming, and families will be gathering around big tables to break bread over a turkey dinner. When you join your family’s Thanksgiving dinner table this year, don’t forget to call the wishbone for yourself! The wishbone has a long, rich magical history—you can use it for your own magical purposes if you desire!

You find the wishbone by looking for where the neck cavity of the turkey. The ‘forked’ end of the wishbone straddles that cavity. If you peel away the meat, you’ll find the top tip of the wishbone and can pry it off the bird.

Once you dig out that little beauty of yours, consider doing one of these things with it.

Looking for more Thanksgiving 'kitchen witchery'? Check out Have a Magical Holiday: Kitchen Witchery for Thanksgiving!


Traditional Wishbone Wish!

Make a Wish with magic!

Make a Wish with magic!

Make a Wish

We all know the most popular use of the wishbone is to ‘make a wish’ between two people. Most people will do it right there at the dinner table, but it’s actually better if you let the bone dry for at least three days and become brittle before attempting it.

Have two people each take a hold of one side of the wishbone. Tell them to close their eyes and make their wishes. The most important factor is that they don’t tell the wish to anyone or it will not come true!!! When they’re ready, both parties can begin to tug and pull—if they both have patience, it can take a little while.

Once the bone breaks, the person holding the bigger half is the one who’s wish will come true. But guess what—if the bone splits up the center into equal pieces, or breaks into three pieces, both people’s wishes will come true!

Marriage Divination

In Victorian times, young ladies would use the wishbone similarly to the wishing process, only instead of trying to make a wish they would break it to see who would be the first to get married. In this case, the person holding the ­smaller piece is the one destined to be wed next.

Keep On Wishing

Wish Amulet

You might not want to bust up that wishbone just yet—it’s actually got some staying power. The ancient Etruscans used to utilize the wishbones of birds for wish amulets around 700 – 900 BCE.

The process started by tossing a big circle of feed on the ground, and drawing letters or symbols around it. They would put a bird in the circle and take note of where it went to feed (sounds a little like a Ouija board, with a chicken as the planchette, doesn’t it?).

The ritual wasn’t done, though—after the chicken would tell them their fortune, it would be slaughtered and eaten. The wishbone would be reserved, and whenever the keeper of it had any desire he would wish for it while stroking the wishbone with his fingers.

Wishbone amulets of gold and silver were eventually forged for the same purpose—as a wish amulet. They were charmed and then worn or put in pouches and carried to bring good fortune. You can keep your wishbone for your own amulet—if you like, paint it with silver or gold paint. That will not only make it look pretty, will strengthen it so it wont’ get too brittle.

Incidentally, you can do this with a chicken, too—it doesn’t have to be a turkey.

Bring Fertility

If fertility is what you seek, you can do what early American women did with their turkey bones. Tack up a nail over the door, and put the wishbone on it. This tradition apparently came over with the Pilgrims from Europe, who probably got it from the Romans. This was not just used for women looking to conceive, but those looking to find someone to start a family with—so you might use it as an amulet to draw love.

Do you ever utilize the magic of the wishbone? Do you have any traditions not listed here? Please share!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Blackwidow on September 12, 2019:

Hey i normally dry the wish bone and drill a hole on both ends and thread a string though it and paint it and add glitter or witch craft signs on it and wear it at home NOT school cuze nobody believes in magic there ( so so sad) I Normaly have pretty good luck while wearing it hope someone likes this and try's it !!!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on April 11, 2018:

Thank you Larry!

Larry W Fish from Raleigh on April 11, 2018:

An interesting read, Mackenzie! I have made many wishes at the Thanksgiving table in my 70 years. I have never told anyone even one wish that I made. It is amazing down through history what the wishbone has meant. I have learned so much that I didn't know.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on January 25, 2014:

Thanks Sangre. I found it interesting when I started researching the history myself. It's amazing how long traditions or beliefs can hang on and continue, even when we've totally forgotten about why we do them or what they're for. I appreciate your comments, thanks for stopping by.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on January 25, 2014:

That's such an interesting fact to learn. I've never really knew the history behind it and the beliefs held by certain cultures relating to it. Amazing really. Great hub.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on December 29, 2013:

Wishing for more wishbones, I wonder if that's taboo like wishing for more wishes? Ah, well... there's always chicken dinners to look forward to in between Novembers. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your comments!

John Fisher from Easton, Pennsylvania on December 29, 2013:

@WiccanSage-Interesting article. I never knew the part about if the wishbone breaks in the center or into 3 pieces. I don't know what happened to the wishbone this Thankgiving. All I know is that I didn't get it. Maybe last year, I should have wished that I would get the wishbone this year. Great Hub. Voted up!!!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 15, 2013:

Thanks Bishop; though Wicca came about 250 years too late and one ocean away to have any ties to Salem, MA (it originated in the UK in the 1940s). But I think learning about different religions and beliefs can be pretty interesting as well. I'm glad you enjoyed it, your comments are much appreciated.

Rebecca from USA on November 15, 2013:

I don't really identify with Wicca/Wiccan's although my family is full of people native to Salem, MA, Indians, and tarot card readers. I'm much more "energy/spiritually" oriented, but I still find this stuff fun and interesting to read. :) Keep up the good hubs!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 15, 2013:

15, wow that's pretty cool. LOL. I'm glad you enjoyed it, thanks for your comments!

Rebecca from USA on November 14, 2013:

interesting. The house I currently live in has a nail in the basement with about 15 wishbones on it. We cleaned the entire house, but I left those up. This was fun to read.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 14, 2013:

Thanks so much, MysticMoonlight, I wish you many more bigger halves. :-)

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 14, 2013:

Thanks Nell Rose, much appreciated!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 14, 2013:

My kids still fight over it, lol. That and the drumsticks. You'd think they'd grow out of it by the teens & 20s.

MysticMoonlight on November 14, 2013:

I've always had great luck with the wishbone! I've somehow always managed to get the larger half! :) As always, great article, Sage. I found the wish amulet especially interesting. Voted!

Nell Rose from England on November 14, 2013:

I love the history of the wishbone, I never knew that it had been used to foresee who would get married first, and I love the idea of placing above the door too, voted up and shared! nell

CraftytotheCore on November 14, 2013:

We always save the wishbone. It's part of our family tradition. It's a fun thing, especially for the kids. ;D

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 11, 2013:

Thanks so much, Dreamhowl!

Jessica Peri from United States on November 10, 2013:

I love wishing on the wishbone at Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing all of this history - voted up!

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