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Once the merrythought is dry, it is given to two people (usually children), who pull it apart until it cracks and breaks, each one making a wish while doing so. The person who gets the "long half" of the wishbone will have his or her wish "come true." If the wishbone breaks evenly, both parties get their wishes. In some families it is said that the wish will only come true if it is not revelaed to anyone. (The belief that a wish must be kept secret to ensure its fulfillment also occurs in "first star" and birthday candle wishing rituals).

In its intact form, the wishbone itself does not confer good luck, but it holds the promise of luck to the one who gets the longer half. Because of its association with conviviality and festive dinners, the wishbone has a long history of use in holiday cards. This postcard, dating from the postcard mania period of 1906-1918, is one of many in my collection that shows a merrythought with holly as a Christmas or New Year party amulet. The wishbone is found on numerous Good Luck postcards of the era.

In the 1930s, the wishbone was a common image on North American good luck coins and one could even buy little gold or silver wishbone charms; but by the 1990s it, like that other "dead animal part," the rabbit foot, had fallen out of favour with the makers of lucky amulets.

Here are some more LUCKY W pages on which wishbones appear:

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Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by cat yronwode:a materia magica of African-American conjure

Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms

Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship

Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy and sacred geometry

Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges

The Lucky Mojo Esoteric Archive: captured internet text files on occult and spiritual topics

Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive:FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups

Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century occultist

Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, and more

Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells

Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business

Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye

Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races

Hoodoo and Blues Lyrics: transcriptions of blues songs about African-American folk magic

The Lesser Book of the Vishanti: Dr. Strange Comics as a magical system, by cat yronwode

The Spirit Checklist: a 1940s newspaper comic book by Will Eisner, indexed by cat yronwode

Fit to Print: collected weekly columns about comics and pop culture by cat yronwode

Eclipse Comics Index: a list of all Eclipse comics, albums, and trading cards

Apprentice with catherine yronwode: personal 3-week training for qualified HRCC graduates

Lucky Mojo Community Forum: an online message board for our occult spiritual shop customers

Lucky Mojo Videos: see video tours of the Lucky Mojo shop and get a glimpse of the spirit train

Lucky Mojo Publishing: practical spell books on world-wide folk magic and divination

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LMC Radio Network: magical news, information, education, and entertainment for all!

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The Lucky Mojo Curio Co.: spiritual supplies for hoodoo, magick, witchcraft, and conjure

Herb Magic: complete line of Lucky Mojo Herbs, Minerals, and Zoological Curios, with sample spells

Mystic Tea Room Gift Shop: antique, vintage, and contemporary fortune telling tea cups

catherine yronwode: the eclectic and eccentric author of many of the above web pages

nagasiva yronwode: nigris (333), nocTifer, lorax666, boboroshi, Troll Towelhead, !

Garden of Joy Blues: former 80 acre hippie commune near Birch Tree in the Missouri Ozarks

Liselotte Erlanger Glozer: illustrated articles on collectible vintage postcards

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Arcane Archive: thousands of archived Usenet posts on religion, magic, spell-casting, mysticism, and spirituality

Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic, plus shopping

Crystal Silence League: a non-denominational site; post your prayers; pray for others; let others pray for you

Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World

Hoodoo Psychics: connect online or call 1-888-4-HOODOO for instant readings now from a member of AIRR

Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith; prayer-light services; Smallest Church in the World

Mystic Tea Room: tea leaf reading, teacup divination, and a museum of antique fortune telling cups

Satan Service: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists

Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including ex-slave narratives & interviews

Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective, plus shopping

Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists

Yronwode Institution: the Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology