Holey Stones

I went hiking with a friend and her three-year-old son on Sunday. We got out of the car and had one of those half-conversations friends can have.

“Look at all the lovely rocks in the creekbed,” I said. (I wish I’d had my camera!)

“Yes—maybe—I really want to find—” my friend began.

“One of those holey stones!” I finished.

“Yes!”

“I’ve been hoping to find one too!”

And boy did we ever find some. Here’s my half of the haul:

DSCN1559

We live in a very special place, and I’m not just speaking figuratively, or referring to what some people call the enchanted forests of southern Indiana. We do have extensive hardwood forests here, but we also live on a significant karst plain—this area is unique literally from the ground up. You can take a walk and pick up geodes from the dirt. All those in the photo, I found exactly as they are, though I suspect some “good Samaritan” had come along and broken a few of them before I arrived.

DSCN1561

As you can see, I’ve already strung one of my holey stones and have been wearing it.

But why, you ask?

Well, common folklore says that naturally drilled stones, called hag stones, fairy stones, witch stones, adder stones, or just plain old holey stones, are protective and even healing objects.

Stones with naturally occurring holes produced by erosion, wind or wave action, sea creatures, and by other means have long been prized as protective objects.

There are numerous folk uses for these stones. They were hung on the bedpost to prevent nightmares. In England, holey stones were tied with red ribbon and hung over the bed for the same purpose within recent years…

As a magical protectant, holey stones were worn around the neck, placed in the house, or hung from the front door (Cunningham 119).

My friend said that if you look through one, you can see fairies, and that must be a fairly common folk myth—the internet is rife with it—but I have yet to find a source. This particular magical trait was the first one my friend mentioned, so I believe it must be local folklore. Cunningham also says that if you look through the stone under the right conditions, you will see visions of the future (120).

Other lore says you can look through it to improve eyesight (Cunningham 120) or use it to draw out sickness or absorb pain (Eason 129). Although the healing properties are arguable at best, like any magical working, I’m sure the intent does as much to dispel the negativity as the stone itself.

The Goddess/feminine-accordance and fertility aspects of the stone are maybe obvious (a hole?), but that’s the first aspect that comes to mind for me: an association with femininity and the Earth Mother herself. The stone represents both the strength of the earth and the power of the water, which alters but does not destroy the stone. It is a product of two elements, which, working against each other, have created a unique and fascinating object.

But, to me, the most interesting aspect is the liminality of the stone. “They were considered a gateway to other dimensions and large (stones) were set near the entrance of Neolithic burial chambers to bring rebirth or easy passage to the Otherworld” (Eason 129).  If we can see the fairies through the stone, and it protects us from nightmares, and it can show us the future, and it demonstrates both the power and the weakness of the Earth, by its nature, it demonstrates aspects of dual existence in both this world and the Otherworld.

And anything that brings me a connection to the other realms is welcome to take a place in my home.

I have big plans for the stones: I have two more I intend to string, though I feel quite attached to the one I’ve been wearing, and I will place additional stones on my fairy altar and on my general altar.

The geodes, though, are a topic for another blog post.

Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic. 2nd ed. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2002.

Easson, Cassandra. The Complete Crystal Handbook. New York: Sterling, 2010.