by David Rankine
Hagstones are stones that have a hole running all the way through them, and are
usually found in streams or rivers, and at the seashore, where running water has
created the hole in the stone.
This may be one of the reasons why they are considered so powerful, as it is a
common belief that magick cannot work on running water, and these stones have
been holed by running water and so retain that influence of protecting from
magick. A Hagstone Hagstones are also known as Holy Stones, Holey Stones,
Ephialtes Stones, Wish Stones, Nightmare Stones and Witch Riding Stones.
They were ascribed with the power of protecting people and animals from the
powers of evil spirits and witches, and were often worn around the neck, or hung
on the key or door to the cattle stalls or stables. Hagstones were also thought
to have the property of preventing milk curdling during a thunderstorm, when
evil spirits were most active. This practice continues today in parts of Britain
and Europe. In some parts of Europe farmers milked their cows so that the milk
passed through a hagstone.
A range of disorders were thought to be cured by hagstones, placing them under
the bed was thought to relieve cramp and rheumatism, and they could prevent
stomach disorders caused by Hags sitting on the stomach during the night.
In Brand's Antiquities, we find the following quote: "A stone with a hole in it
hung at the bed's head will prevent the nightmare. It is therefore called a Hag
Stone from that disorder which is occasioned by a Hag or Witch sitting on the
stomach of the party afflicted. It also prevents witches riding horses, for
which purpose it is often tied to a stable key."
In parts of Scandinavia large quantities of ale poured through a hag stone was
given to an expectant mother to ease birth pains.
An Arabic custom was to tie a hagstone around the neck of young camels to
protect them from evil spirits and the evil eye.
In some parts of Britain hagstones were fastened to the bows of boats to keep
them safe when at sea.
An interesting custom was the use of hagstones as pledge stones, being held to
ensure a person was telling the truth.
Perhaps the most interesting properties a hagstone was thought to possess were
the ability to enable the bearer to see the faerie folk, and be warded from
their enchantments. Hagstones found at mounds or other such sites were
considered especially powerful. For a hagstone to keep its full power it was
supposed to be found by the bearer or given in love.
Larger hagstones were used for weather magick, having a cord threaded through
the hole and tied, and then being swirled vigorously around the head at arms
length for dispelling winds and rain clouds.
As wish stones, they were held in the palm of the left hand, and rubbed with the
thumb in a deosil (clockwise) manner whilst concentrating on the intent of the
wish (this technique was also used with pieces of amber). We can see this as a
technique of creative visualization, using the repetitive rubbing to focus the
mind and then concentrating on the desired result (the "wish").
It is interesting to note that although the left hand is used to hold, this was
probably not for its "sinister" aspect, but rather so that the rubbing could be
done with the dominant (for most people), more "positively aspected" right hand.
This is reinforced by the fact that the rubbing is done deosil, i.e. sunwise, in
an invoking manner to invoke the desired result.
Holed stones with multiple holes in were used as spell casting stones by
medieval witches. The holes would be made in a stone, equidistant and in
multiples of three. A cord or pebble would be passed through the holes in
patterns of three, whilst the intent of the spell was repeated, usually in
multiples of three. This type of spell emphasises a belief in the power of
repetition to achieve a desired result.
(From the book "Crystals: Healing & Folklore" by David Rankine, published byCapall Bann)