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Filtering by Tag: Wishing Well

The History of the Wishbone and Other Wishful (but not wishy washy!) Thoughts

Rae Hering

I’ve had a wishbone (yes – that kind that comes from an actual chicken) sitting on my kitchen counter for months now.  Why you ask?  Am I supposed to be able to answer such questions??

OK, I admit I have an unusual fascination for “little found treasures.”  For instance, I regularly pick up small objects I find on the ground and collect them in the pouch on my car door.  I came across this particular chicken charm while making homemade broth (which, by the way, is super easy and very good for you!)


Every now and again I would take a quick glance at my wishbone, thinking I might coerce Jonathan into having a little superstitious fun.  But I never did because, honestly, making a wish on it seems pointless and silly - where does the idea of breaking wishbones come from, anyhow?

Well, according to Matt Soniak at Mental Floss, “The custom of snapping these bones in two after dinner came to us from the English, who got it from the Romans, who got it from the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization. As far as historians and archaeologists can tell, the Etruscans were really into their chickens, and believed that the birds were oracles and could predict the future.”

Isn’t it AMAZING how long-lasting these ideas are that become woven into the fabric of our lives?? 

The Etruscans (800-400 B.C.) would dry out the wishbone, or furcula if you want to get scientific, so as to preserve the mystical powers the bird possessed while living.  People would use wishbones as treasured spiritual objects, stroking them and making wishes on them.  The act of actually breaking the bone was a variation developed by the Romans when they crossed paths with the Etruscans.


Back in my kitchen, I’m staring at my chicken bone thinking of what to do with it (if you’re still wondering why, I’m just going to say that I’m weird!!)  I’m certainly not going to carry it around stroking it (...I’m not that weird…)  I could just throw the damn thing out so I don’t have to look at it any longer – I’m sure anyone more sensible than me would gladly choose this option.  But I’ve always been a pack rat and pack rats just have a tough time with that whole “throwing out” thing.

So, I take my beloved poultry collarbone in hand and decide to give this age-old symbol some new significance:

Don’t just make wishes – make wishes happen.


If I wanted to take my chances at having my wish, I’d snap this wishbone faster than you can say Chicken Little. But I’m not interested in taking chances with my precious future.  The potential to achieve my wishes comes deep within the person I am actively cultivating, not anything else.  The more I am aware of what I want out of life, the more I am able to attain those things.  In fact, I can even “feel it in my bones” – an idiom which speaks of having intuition about one’s circumstances.  The more I am aware of myself and my surroundings, the more I am able to guide myself by the strength of this intuition.

As a musician moving her career forward, I know I have to have pretty tough skin, but now I realize I have to have some pretty strong bones, too.  A lot of singer/songwriters (myself included here) rely on the “wishbone method” of getting discovered.  I’ve put myself through plenty of hell and torment because my wishes hadn’t been granted.

I’m keeping this wishbone to remind me that I’ve tried the wishbone method, and now I know it doesn’t work.  Dropping coins down the wishing well, blowing out candles and wishing upon a star, they all don’t work.  And they’re not for me.  What can I say?  I actually want my wishes to come true.

Make wishes!  But don’t rely on the wishbone – rely on the intuition in your own bones.