On Hagstones

Or Holey Stones, Witch Stones, Adder Stones, Snake Eggs, Hex Stones, Fairy Stones, Eye Stones…

Unable to decide what to put on the mantle after the holiday decorations had been removed, I decided to bring down my holed stones

Stones with natural holes in them–referred to as “holed stones”–have long been coveted as spiritual tools. These powerful talismans can serve as protectors, healers, and as windows into other realms.

Holed stones are most frequently shaped in aquatic environments such as oceans and briskly flowing streams. They can be formed from any type of rock: if conditions are right, even the hardest stone can end up with a hole in it.

These are the first two holed stones I ever collected, from a beach in Belmar, New Jersey.  They are quite possibly limestone that has formed a concretion around some other object.


Hagstones and I

I found my first hagstones–pictured above–the summer after my junior year of high school. My friend Alyssa and I were walking the beach in Belmar, New Jersey, and there they were, pale green stones of every size–many of them holed–littering the sand. These unusual stones fired our imaginations: we gave them names and personalities and wrote them into our science fiction stories.

I was always on the lookout for more holed stones, but I didn’t find another until many years later while walking a rocky beach along Lake Michigan. Unlike the green rocks, this was a piece of quartzite–enormously hard and heavy–with a sizeable hole in it.

This hagstone came from Lake Michigan.  It is a dense, heavy quartzite, a piece of Canada, tumbled smooth by its journey south on the Glacier Express.

The bulk of my collection of holed stones comes from Sideling Hill Creek. There, the stones are found along one very short stretch of the creek.

Properties and Uses of Hagstones

A hagstones’ power is derived from its association with water. In some traditions, the reasons for this is that magick cannot work on moving water; since the hagstone was formed by and in moving water, it retains the water’s beneficial influence.

Protection

The name “hagstone” refers to the belief that spectral hags caused many of the ailments suffered by our ancestors. Some of the protections provided by hagstones include:

  • Ward off snakes and snake bites.
  • Protect against nightmares.
  • Ward off the dead and counteract curses.
  • Can be used to ward off the Evil Eye.
  • Hung from a fishing boat, a hagstone will ensure that the fishermen will suffer no maritime misfortune.
  • Hung in a barn, hagstones protect the livestock from predators and disease.
  • Hung from a bed post, a hagstone can act as a fertility charm.
This hagstone comes from Sideling Hill Creek in southern Pennsylvania.
Windows

By their very nature, hagstones can serve as windows into other realms. It’s generally thought that looking through a hagstone will enable a person to see into the realms of the Fae, but sometimes the window opens onto other planes of the spirit. Peering through the hole in a hagstone might enable the viewer to see invisible creatures, or even the environment in which the hagstone was formed. Certain traditions hold that staring at a full moon through the stone’s eye will make wishes come true.

In the same vein, holed stones might be employed at Samhain, so that when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, one might get a glimpse of those who have gone before.

This is another group of holed stones from Sideling Hill Creek.  I have long thought that the holes in these particular rocks were trace fossils–in this case the tunnels of marine worms made long ago, when the rock was a beach.
Healing

Along with healing snake bites, hagstones can be used in many health-related situations. Hung from a necklace, a hagstone can refresh body, mind, and spirit–or cure any one of a number of illnesses. Treatment using a holed stone to rub a painful joint or the bandage covering a wound has been suggested as well.

Holed stones as pendants.  The real holed stone on the assemblage to the right is at the very end:  the others are beads.
Other Uses for Hagstones

A few applications for holed stones don’t fit into any of the above categories. For example, it is said that the bearer of a holed stone will be able to tell if someone is telling the truth. The one who wears a holed stone may also be able to break up storms and control the weather.

Obtaining Hagstones

Obviously it makes sense that the best way to find holed stones for your work is to go out and find them yourself. Of course, that’s easier said than done–who has the time to go out to the beach or wade in a creek ? Life is busy!

Purchasing holed stones is not the answer, either. You remember when your mother would yell “Don’t touch that, you don’t know where it’s been!”? This is more like “Don’t touch that, you don’t know how that hole got there!” Many rocks labeled “hagstones” have been tumbled until they look like real hagstones–but lack their properties.

Some sources state very clearly that a holed stone that has been gifted does not have as much spiritual value as it would if you had found it yourself. My Badgerly self politely disagrees: if a hagstone is given as a gift of love or respect, it seems to me that the giver’s intent would only enhance the stone’s efficacy.

A Special Slavic Supplement by Robin Woodruff!

In Slavic belief a stone with a hole was connected to the Goddess of Life-Giving Water, Siva.  It held fertile feminine energy, healing powers and protection. So a string of lucky stones like this hung in the home will preserve the house and its inhabitants from the “evil eye.”  A stone with a hole would be hung in the barn to protect the animals, or put in the child’s room to protect against malicious spirits.  These beliefs are the same as the Celts and these stones were sometimes called “Druid-stones,” “Druid-beads” or “serpent-stones” holding all the same good luck, healing and protective powers.  It was particularly lucky to find one of these stones with a hole on the Summer Solstice and “all one’s undertakings will prosper while the stone is retained.”  They were used to protect children from illness. A stone “full of holes” was called kurinyi bog meaning a “hen god” and is hung on a pole in villages or in the barn to prevent disease.  


Disease could be transferred to a stone with three edges or nine stones from a stream, which would then be tossed under a bridge. It is important to remember in Slavic beliefs that all stones were connected to the primordial stone, the Alatyr Stone (from which we get our word for altar.) This stone was located on Buyan Island under the Tree of Life. I have created a guided meditation that will start to get you familiar with this magical place.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gkg8OGnQ6OA&t=131s

Sources

Findeizen. History of Music in Russia from Antiquity to 1800, Vol. 1. Makarov. “Presentations on Secret Exchange Locations, The Disease Demons in Slovenia.” Etnolog. 26. p. 191Daniels. Folklore and the Occult Sciences. p. 751 & 757McGowen. Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures. P. 43

Findeizen. History of Music in Russia from Antiquity to 1800, Vol. 1. Makarov. “Presentations on Secret Exchange Locations, The Disease Demons in Slovenia.” Etnolog. 26. p. 191Daniels. Folklore and the Occult Sciences. p. 751 & 757McGowen. Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures. P. 43

Sources: you’re going to have to excuse the way this looks–apparently there’s more to embedding URLs on WordPress than meets the eye…