We started collecting Hag Stones last year after finding a few on the beaches of Manasota Key. We didn't know anything about them. We both thought these hole-y rocks were interesting so we added them to our collection bags. We later learned these unusual little rocks have many fantastic stories to tell.
Hag Stones are considered sacred objects by many worldwide. But, what exactly are they? A Hag Stone is any stone that contains a natural hole through it. The holes are formed through the process of erosion, specifically moving water. The rock itself can be made up of any natural stone material, it's the water that provides the magic. Because Hag Stones are created by moving water it's believed these stones retain a portion of water's magical properties.
We call them Hag Stones but one might wonder why we wouldn't choose to refer to them as "Fairy Stones" instead. After all, Pillywiggins are a type of fairy. The simple answer is, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet but stones with many names can get confusing!
Menilite Opal or Goddess Stones are also known as "Fairy Stones." As you can see, they are very different from Hag Stones & and wouldn't you know, we collect both! Menilite Opal is found in ancient glacial deposits. It's an unusual mineral formation composed of calcium carbonate & clay. The Algonquin People of Northern Quebec named them "Fairy Stones" but many people around the world believe these stones possess good luck as well. Carrying them is thought to provide protection, prosperity & many other blessings. But, that's another blog post. Let's get back to Hag Stones.
Legends & Folklore
Other legends claim Hag Stones were created by a twisted mass of salivating snakes. Their spittle hardened into stone "eggs" that were peppered with holes from the serpents' tongues. Even Ireland, where legend says Saint Patrick drove out all of the snakes, shares a similar tale of magical rocks that transform into poisonous eels when thrown into water.
If snakes aren't your thing, how do you feel about chickens?
Did we just find a Kurinyi Bog???
We tend to laugh off folklore these days as silly or archaic. Even so, people believed in the power of Hag Stones for thousands of years. Many still believe in their magic today relying on them to provide protection, good fortune & peace of mind.
Hag Stones in History - The Stone of Oden
The Stone of Oden was a giant Hag Stone that once stood on Scotland's Orkney Islands near the Standing Stones of Stenness. Believed to be erected around 3,000 BC, The Stone of Oden was 8 foot tall by 3-1/2 foot wide with a hole so large men could place their arms through it. And that's exactly what they did for thousands of years. Men & women would grasp hands through the large hole when swearing oaths to one another. It was believed this action would make the oaths unbreakable and it extended to the promises of marriage as well. Another ritual involving The Oden Stone required passing a person's body through the hole for protection & increased strength. This was especially important when entering a new phase in life.
Unfortunately, the Stone of Oden was destroyed in 1814 by Captain W. Mackay. Mackay was an outsider that leased the land the stone sat upon. He grew irritated by the number of visitors that came to view the stone so he destroyed it and used the broken pieces to build a byre. (A byre cow shed.) Mackay was also responsible for toppling one of the Standing Stones of Stenness. Mackay's actions so incensed the locals they attempted to burn his house down several times. When they realized MacKay's plans included destroying the remaining Standing Stones of Stenness they got the law involved and a "Sist and Suspension" was issued to stop him. You can visit the Standing Stones of Stenness to this day!
Before we get into the magic of Hag Stones, there are two things one must know.
Hag Stones offer protection to the bearer when worn as an amulet.
They protect the wearer from hexes, curses & the evil eye.
If and when the stone breaks it has served its purpose protecting you.
Return the broken stone to Mother Nature immediately.
(And look for another!)
Hag Stones offer protection to people and objects alike.
They were commonly used to protect children, livestock & sailing vessels.
Hag Stones hung across thresholds stop evil spirits from entering the home.
Hanging a Hag Stone from any object offers protection to that object.
But be careful where you place them!
Hag Stones hung from bedposts may increase fertility & conception.
Ancient peoples believed Hag Stones could cure most ailments.
And protect the wearer from snake bites.
Wearing or carrying a "Pledge Stone" will help you to identify liars!
You will always recognize the truth when it's spoken.
"Fairy Stones" offer protection from the Fay.
Foolish humans believe they give the possessor control over fairies.
(Be warned - Never attempt to mess with the Fay!)
Stringing several Hag Stones together amplifies their power!
Legends also assert that peering through the hole of a Hag Stone allows one to "see the unseen." However, what is seen depends largely on the the location where the Hag Stone was found. Stones found near the ocean may allow one to see mermaids while stones found in the woods may help you see forest spirits. Others, including Italian folklore, claim Hag Stones allow one to see into the fairy realm.
Although we didn't see mermaids, tree spirits or fairies we certainly felt the magic of these enchanting stones. Calling to us to pick them up & peer through their holes. Tickling our curiosity, demanding we learn more about them.
Why of course, Hag Stones contain a bit of magic.
Everything in nature does!