(Taken from Pagan Portals Animal Magic)
Using animal parts in magic. It is totally your call as to whether you are comfortable using animal parts in magic whether it is in spell workings, divination or on your altar to honour the animal.
I have a magpie wing, skull and feet on my animal spirit altar. But they came from a road kill bird (that was properly dried out and treated so that the parts don’t rot). I also have a set of boar’s teeth. I didn’t go out and bash the poor animal over the head just to get a pretty decoration for my altar.
However, with something like road kill I think it honours the animal to remove it from the road and clean it up. It now sits in pride of place and not only brings the energy of the magpie to my magic but also serves as a reminder of the cycle of life and death.
Honour the animal
If you choose to eat meat then I also think it is only fair to honour the animal. Whenever funds allow try to purchase organic or farm assured meat (or eggs). And if you are using something like a whole chicken then perhaps think about using the bones once the flesh has been eaten. Chicken bones clean up very well and can be made into a divination set or carved with symbols to make a fetish or even chopped up or ground to go into medicine bags. If you eat the meat, then honour the animal by using as much of it as you possibly can without waste.
Bird wings made exceptionally good wafters for sending the smoke around when you are smudging either at home or when in a group circle. Single feathers also work well for the same purpose.
Claws, small bones and antlers can also be used as altar decorations or pieces of jewellery to bring the connection from the animal to you or your circle.
Some items are naturally shed by the animal such as antlers, feathers and snake skins, all of these can be utilised for magical purpose.
Animal parts from history
Animal parts have been used in magic for thousands of years and some of the items used and their magical properties were recorded. Here is a list of some interesting ones:
Adder – hang the skin by the chimney to bring good luck or put in the rafters of your house for protection against fire.
Alligator – the tradition of wearing an alligator tooth on a chain as a necklace is said to bring luck and safety.
Ants – eat their eggs with honey to work as an antidote to love…you would probably have to be quite desperate to try this one…
Bats were hung near pigeon houses in ancient Egypt to keep the birds from flying away.
In Europe bats were buried at a crossroads with magical herbs as love spells.
Bear – when a member of the family died a bear head was buried with their body to keep them safe in the afterlife.
Romans wore images of the bear or bear claws to ease childbirth and protect the unborn.
Bees – images of the bee can be found all over the world on ancient sites. Especially burial tombs as they were believed to protect the dead and help the soul travel safely to the other world.
Cat – if you find a cat whisker (don’t pull it out from the cat…ouch) you can use the whisker in a wishing spell.
Cockerels – the claws bring protection and the blood is used in spells and charms for Voodoo and Santeria practices.
Crow – the bird poop from a crow was used by Aryans in fertility spells…ahem. Native American’s would give a black feather from a crow as a death curse.
Fish – these were eaten by Teutons to absorb their divine properties.
Frog – frog symbols and ornaments were carried by Egyptians to bring good health and placed in tombs to represent rebirth. Frogs were placed into the mouth of a sick person then sent away to ‘take the sickness with it’.
Hare/Rabbit – we all know the tradition for carrying a rabbit’s foot to bring good luck.
Lion – In ancient Egypt lion images were placed at the entrance to temples to bring protection and fertility.
Salmon – eating the flesh of the salmon will bring wisdom and knowledge.
Seal – Romans wore sealskins to bring protection from thunderstorms, which is actually a sensible idea.
Tortoise – whispering your wish to a tortoise will in turn convey the message direct to a sea god who will then grant it…presumably the message travels to the gods a lot faster than a tortoise walks…
NB: Do check the laws for your area as some places do not allow collection of certain bird feathers.
Originally posted on Beneath the Moon, Patheos Pagan - 21.1.18