RACCOON PENIS BONES
Back in October, 1995, Jim Hudnall
posed a question in alt.lucky.w about
raccoon penis bones. He said that Mick Jagger's partner Jeri Hall had mentioned
in an interview that when she was growing up in Texas, boys gave raccoon penis
bones to girls they liked as a form of love token or simple
love spell. Jim said he had
never heard of penis bones before and wondered if raccoons really had them.
indescribable lucky charm, American
Kama Sutra amulets, Nepal
munachi charms, Quechua
penis amulets, Thai
penis amulets, Roman
phallic charmstone, California Indian
raccoon penis bones
Sheela-Na-Gig pewter pendant, modern
vulva amulets, modern
I responded that Jeri Hall was right -- raccoons do have penis
bones, although they are by no means the only species with such
bones. (For instance, seals, walruses and whales have them too,
and these large penis bones, called oosiks by the Inuit, are used
for making sled dog harness parts.) The scientific name for these
bones is os penis ("penis bone" in Latin") and among their many
common names are "love bone," "pecker bone," "coon dong" "possum
prick," Texas toothpick," "mountain man toothpick" and "baculum"
(Latin for "little rod"). More to the point of Jim's query,
though, i can testify from personal experience that raccoon penis
bones were used as
charms and curios among white farm boys and men of the Missouri
Ozarks (in south-central Missouri, near the Arkansas line) during
the 10 years i lived there in the 1970s-80s.
Soon after my then-partner Peter Yronwode and i moved to the Ozarks in 1972, we were
told by a couple of local farmers that the proper way to prepare a pecker bone was
to boil it clean and to tie a piece of red thread or string around it
and give it to one's girlfriend to wear as a necklace.
hippies, we made our charms from the penis bones of freshly road-killed male
coons. (We picked up road-kills anyway because we ate the meat and tanned the
furs and sold the mittens and purses we made therefrom.) I should also note that
rather than dedicate these love bones to the furtherance of overpopulated
HUMANITY, we placed them by our pond, where visiting RACCOONS would benefit from
the resultant sexual potency and fertility among their own species.
Both Barrance C. Lespine and Larry Schroeder
of Austin, Texas, reported that the bones were sold there locally under the name
"Texas toothpicks" and kindly donated samples.
Early in 1996, my co-worker Susie Bosselmann came into my office and saw my stuff and -- to my
surprise, as she is a very "fussy" person who abhors bugs and spiders -- she
said, "Ooh, lookie! You've got coon dongs!" She was pointing to the penis bones
Larry and Barry had sent to me.
Susie is in her 60s and she grew up in Oklahoma, an area contiguous with Missouri
and Texas. I had thought that the wearing of raccoon penis bones was limited to the
Midwest, but she expanded my horizons when she said that she and her
husband had recently been at a gun show in Kentucky and had seen "a beautiful
coon dong necklace, with hundreds of 'em strung together, just like a Cherokee
Indian ceremonial necklace." She would have bought it but it was too expensive,
she said. I asked her why someone would make a coon dong necklace, and she said,
"Well, what ELSE can ya do with 'em?"
Obviously, the use of raccoon penis bones as sex amulets or in
love spells was not known to Susie,
but just to be sure, i asked her if she'd ever heard them called love bones or
heard of boys giving them to their girlfriends. She said, "No, we just made
necklaces out of them."
In May, 1996, Michael
something new on the subect: the use of the raccoon penis bone as
a gambler's charm. Here's what he said:
Just got back from New Orleans for my umpteenth Jazz Fest visit &
spent some extended time in the Voodoo Museum in the Quarter. As
touristy as this place is, there were several exhibits of interest.
Did notice a raccoon penis bone there marked "Lucky for gamblers."
Other readers have written in and added much lore -- about a
gambling uncle in the South who wrapped his coon dong in a ten dollar bill
before going out to play cards of an evening, a grandfather who wore a "possum
prick" bone as a watch fob, a jeweler who caps the bones with
sterling silver and sells them as necklace pendants, and a family
which has owned a "mountain toothpick" for years. Scott Stauffer,
a taxidermist in Michigan, writes, "I have had several requests
for raccoon penis necklaces. Thinking this to be strange, I asked
as to the reason one would want to wear such a thing. Up here the
general consensus is that 'You're not cool unless you're
hangin.' No red ribbons or gifts to girl friends; the guys wear
them, mostly, it seems, for luck. A jeweler's clasp is glued
to the straight end and it is worn on a length of gold chain.
Although strange, they are strikingly handsome when
boiled and pollished."
In the late 1990s, i was approached via telephone by a
person claiming to be a 21 year old transgendered
HIV-positive recovering drug addict cross-dressing
prostitute named J. T. Leroy -- who, strangely, although
claiming to be from West Virginia, had a fairly neutral
middle-aged woman's accent, with no trace of Appalachian
dialect. This person wanted to purchase a quantity of racoon
penis bones amounting to more than our entire previous
year's sales -- in order to sign them and give them away as
promotion for "his" new book, "Sarah," a memoir of his
search for his postitute mother. In the book, "J.T. LeRoy"
told me, he was giving to the world the true story of how, as a young teen, he
was forced to dress as a female and to prostitute himself to
truck drivers, but that he was given a raccoon penis bone to wear as
a token of his hidden maleness by his pimp.
such an unusual claim with respect to such a well-known folkloric talisman,
i spent quite a lot of time on the
phone with "J.T. LeRoy," and came away convinced -- as was
Susie Bosselmann, my office manager, who also talked to "him" -- that the person we were
dealing with was a woman, not a man, and that she was considerably older than "he"
claimed to be. Over the next couple of years, we received
multiple orders for bulk puchases of raccoon pnis bones from
this individual, and were asked to ship them to various
places -- mostly to an address in San Francisco, but at
least once to a venue in Nebraska. Payment was always by
credit card, and the cards were under various names, but never in the name of "J. T.
Leroy." It did not come as a terrible surprise, therefore,
when in 2005 and 2006 the story broke that the character of
"J. T. Leroy" was a fictional creation dreamed up by a
middle-aged female writer in San Francico named Laura
Albert, and imporsonated at book signing venues by her
sister-in-law Savannah Knoop. Albert was eventually sued for
fraud, for signing a moie contract with the name of her
phoney persona -- but to this day, i still get a chuckle
when i hear from folks who tell me that they have genuine raccoon penis bones "signed
by JT Leroy."
Any further information on the luck-bringing or magical uses of penis bones
would be much appreciated. In particular, i am
interested in the geographical and ethnological distribution of the custom of
tying them with red thread.
For other lucky charms in the form of genitalia or copulating couples, see:
If sex magick interests you, you may
enjoy visiting the portion of my web site devoted to
Sacred Sex, Karezza, and Tantra Yoga.
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