Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Holey Stones

Holey Stones are intriguing naturally occurring stones and pebbles with a hole through them carved by the ocean and time.  They are known by a variety of names: Hag Stone, Adder Stone, Witch Stone, Serpent's Eggs, Snake's Eggs, or Glain Neidr in Wales, Milpreve in Cornwall, Adderstanes in the south of Scotland and Gloine nan Druidh ("Druids' glass" in Scottish Gaelic) in the north.  Holey stones can be found along the east coast, in BritainCanada,  parts of Europe and even as far as Egypt.  Most are found along beaches washed up by the passing tides.  Some such stones have been found in fields, unearthed by the plough at planting time, although this is far more rare.

Known as the adder stone, this particular stone was reputed to be sacred to the Druids as an amulet, a passage in Pliny’s Natural History, book xix, describes the nature and many of the properties this particular stone  provides. (An amulet (amuletum) is generally known as any natural object whose primary power is for protection).
"There is a sort of egg in great repute among the Gauls, of which the Greek writers have made no mention. A vast number of serpents are twisted together in summer, and coiled up in an artificial knot by their saliva and slime; and this is called "the serpent's egg". The druids say that it is tossed in the air with hissings and must be caught in a cloak before it touches the earth. The person who thus intercepts it, flies on horseback; for the serpents will pursue him until prevented by intervening water. This egg, though bound in gold will swim against the stream. And the magi are cunning to conceal their frauds, they give out that this egg must be obtained at a certain age of the moon. I have seen that egg as large and as round as a common sized apple, in a chequered cartilaginous cover, and worn by the Druids. It is wonderfully extolled for gaining lawsuits, and access to kings. It is a badge which is worn with such ostentation, that I knew a Roman knight, a Vocontian, who was slain by the stupid emperor Claudius, merely because he wore it in his breast when a lawsuit was pending."

Below is a large holey stone on a shoreline in  Dänholm Germany along the Baltic Sea.

Many believed that, like the toad stone, but referred to as an 'adder stone', it was found in the head of the snake and therefore could be used successfully to cure an adder's bite.  While others reported that this peculiar stone was formed in the mouth of the snake from its saliva, and the hole, having been created by the snake's tongue, could be used for the same purpose.

Holey Stone Properties:
Protection, Defensive, Increases Fertility, Faery Vision, Hedge Crossing, Breaking through Illusion, Curative (when rubbed on the inflicted part of the body), Psychic Ability, Thwarts the Evil Eye, Protects against Plague and Disease, Safeguards Luck, Working with Spirits.

Earth and Water

The Moon

Hung above the doors of one's house or within a barn, holey stones combat the effects of curses.  It was, at one time, customary for gentlemen to carry this type of stone around in their pockets as key-fobs and mother's wishing to protect their children from the evil eye would, and still so, tie a length of cord through the stone in order that its benefits can be easily worn as a pendant. I personally own a lovely witch stone given to me years ago by a co-worker; I've made it into an elaborate beaded necklace, adding amber and agate beads to the design in order to compliment the stone's existing properties.
As with all things scary when it comes to the 'night' holey stones were and still are hung on bed-posts to keep away demons such as the Night Hag, the Night Mare (seen in the background) or the infamous Incubus.  The incubus in particular was  believed to invisibly seek out their sleeping victims, steal their strength, have intercourse with them while they slept and generally cause unpleasant dreams. The feminine counterpart is called  a Succubus.

'Hag Stone Knot'
Used by fisherman, this charm is a length of cord, preferably red, which bears a number of hag stones tied along its length designed to ensure their catch and protect the ship from sudden storms. As with the cords tied with nine knots to unleash the wind, also known as 'selling the wind' by those who made them for those in need, hag stones would insure a good wind for leaving and returning while preventing evil spirits from interfering.
My Companion
In addition to the initial photo of stones shown above that I personally own, I have recently acquired what I call a 'companion stone' measuring 3 inches in height and 2 inches across, at its widest point. It is rough in shape, sun-kissed cream in color, with a large indentation at the stomach, leading inward to a small hole right in its' center.  Resembling a small human-like figure, or fey-like which is more to the point, it has two indented eyes, a rather pronounced nose, stubby arms and nubby feet on which it is able to stand.  He, as this is the gender conveyed to me by the stone, has his head turned ever so slightly to the right as though he is contemplating something in particular; something very interesting.  
We are building our relationship slowly over time.  His companionship centers around my creative projects, magic in particular and when in ritual.  I'm very fond of his quiet nature but have no name by which he would like to be known.  Although this is perplexing I merely address him as fondly and politely as possible and wait.
My hope was to include him in this post, however, on three occasions my efforts to photograph my friend have failed.  Each attempt producing only a fuzzy image despite my best efforts, therefore I humbly resign myself to the fact that he chooses not to have his  image included here due to his very conscious and magical nature I presume.  Perhaps as our relationship grows, and with time, hopefully thrives, it might be possible in the future to do so, but only with his explicit permission of course.

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Photo: Holey stones group photo from the author's collection.

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