Magic pointing bones: Why I can’t get my act together.

Published July 18, 2013 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

As I may have mentioned and has been observed, I have a natural tendency to wander. Wander in the literal and figurative sense. I am starting to believe that the universe is setting me up for some wildly intricate and bizarre practical joke. I am always vaguely apprehensive.

My Amanda friend offered a reasonable explanation of why such weird things happen to me in the course of one day, or even over the length of time that it takes me to walk from one room to the next. She suggested that perhaps there are several plains of existence converging on one spot in my house, thus explaining the Mystery of the Reappearing Roach Corpse and the fact that I can have one clear concise idea in my head and by the time I reach the next room something truly bizarre has occurred to me.

My degree in research has taught me that ideas become emergent for a reason.  Today’s mad phrase of the day is Magic Pointing Bones. The phrase popped out of the podcast “Stuff you missed in History class.” (Yes, I still listen to this in spite of the horrifying pronunciation incident.  My desire to learn far outweighs my disgust.)

The ceremony of bone pointing is a common ritual for bringing sickness among the [Australian] Arunta. The pointing bone or pointing stick is usually about nine inches in length, pointed at one end, and tipped with a lump of resin at the other. The stick is endowed with magical power by being ‘sung over,’ that is, curses are muttered over it, such as ‘may your heart be rent asunder’ and ‘may your head and throat be split open.’ On the evening of the day on which the bone has been ‘sung’ the wizard creeps stealthily in the shadows until he can see the victim’s face clearly by the firelight. He then points the bone in the victim’s direction and utters in a low tone the curses with which the stick was endowed earlier in the day. The victim is supposed to sicken and die within a month at the most. Two men may cooperate in the pointing operation. Spears may also be endowed with magic by ‘singing’ over them. A person who knows that he has been injured, even slightly, with a spear thus prepared will be likely to waste away through fear unless counter magic can be brought to his aid.

Practical application: the scene in the Color Purple where Celie casts a bony finger in Danny Glover’s direction and curses him to a life of ill fortune until he does right by her.

I think this is the perfect illustration of what’s going on in my head and why I can’t get any work done today.

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