Rising Human Bones

(And other points to ponder)

I am compiling this list. Please let me know if you have more to add.

Bible: Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37). Woman is created from a man’s rib bone (Genesis 2).

Mexican: The Bone Woman / La Huesera / La Loba in Women Who Run With the Wolves
The Bone Woman sings over the bones of an abused woman and brings her back to life.

Inuit: The Skeleton Woman
An abused woman’s bones are caught by a fisherman and brought back to life through relationship.

English: Teeny Tiny Woman
A teeny-tiny woman finds a teeny-tiny bone at a graveyard and plans to make teeny-tiny soup with it, but a mysterious teeny-tiny voice from the cupboard demands: “Give me my bone!”

Irish: The Son of the King of Erin and the Giant of Loch Lein
Yellow Lily offers her body and bones to climb a tree. Then, she is resurrected with river water.

German (Grimm): The Singing Bones
An old bone is made into a horn, and it sings about how the body was unjustly killed.

German (Grimm):  The Juniper Tree
A little boy’s bones rise as a singing bird.


Relics are often bones of religious leaders.

In Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, each church has a relic in it.

Mohammad’s tooth is in the Pavilion of the Sacred Relics in Istanbul.

The Temple of the Tooth in Sri Lanka contains a tooth of the Buddha. It was smuggled into Sri Lanka in the hair of a princess. A war was fought over this tooth because it represented the right to rule. When the capital city moved, a new temple was built so the relic could move, too.

Ghost Festivals

Dia de los Muertos (Mexican), Ghost Festival (Chinese), Obon (Japanese), Pitru Paksha (Hindu).
The dead re-visit the living, and the living set up offerings such as food for them. Some involve cleaning graves or the ossuary bones of loved ones.

Hueseros / Ossuaries: people are buried for a few years, and then their bones are disinterred and placed in a chest, box, building, well or site, sometimes with other bones. Catacombs of Paris are a famous example, 6 million people, 186 miles of tunnels.

Interesting Biblical Bones

As a man was being buried, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha; as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he came to life and stood on his feet (2 Kings 13:21).

Bones of saints are moved for proper burial (2 Samuel 21:12-14).

Liber Pontificalis: “[Cornelius] during his pontificate at the request of a certain matron, Lucina, took up the bodies of the apostles, blessed Peter and Paul, from the catacombs by night; first the body of the blessed Paul was received by the blessed Lucina and laid in her own garden.” (For more information on these women, read The Bone Gatherers.)

Moses takes the 100-year-old bones of Joseph out of Egypt to be buried with his father Jacob, to be delivered to the Promised Land of Israel as an inheritance:

So Joseph made the Israelites swear, saying, “When God comes to you, you shall carry up my bones from here” (Genesis 50:25). And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, “God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here” (Exodus 13:19). The bones of Joseph, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem…it became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph (Joshua 24:32).

Bones are moved or burned for punishment. Jeremiah 8. 2 Chronicles 34. 2 Kings 23. Amos 2. Baruch 2. 1 Kings 13.

Bones are burned then buried for cleansing. 2 Samuel 21.

Touching a human bone causes a person to be unclean. Numbers 19.