“A witch may take many disguises to achieve her unholy deeds. They may walk amongst us undetected, infecting and cursing our brethren for they have the power of the devil to shape shift their form. But Mother Nature has blessed us with a device that even the magic of the witch cannot fool for to gaze through the hole of the Hag Stone is to see the witch stripped of magic. Her true sickening guise is revealed for all who posses such a stone and the stone will protect for the witches magic is rendered useless. ”
extract from Pierter the Peddler’s Inventory of Charms and Talismans 1615
That’s a tad dramatic but perfectly outlines the primary usage of the Hag Stone, also known as the Adder Stone, Odin Stone and Holey Stone. It has always been a protective emblem, used in talismans both on land and on sea.
Hag Stones are usually found by moving water, such as rivers and oceans, as the hole that perforats the stone occurs through water action swirling coarse sand across the surface of the stone. Once a groove is established and becomes deep enough the movement of the water swirls in the hole until it is fully perforated.
The most common types are of shale but any stone that will yield to the movement of the water and earth (in this case sand) could become a Hag Stone. For this reason Hag Stones are associated with earth and water and have a strong goddess association in modern times.
Hag Stone knots, cords upon which multiple hag stones are strung, have been used as charms against the powers of witches for many years. An example found in the National History Museum in London could date from as early as the 1800’s. From being hung in boats to protect against the evil eye to being hung in stables and barns to protect precious livestock from hex and harm hag stones have been a protective talisman of the common folk. As well as stripping the witch of her illusions and power, looking through hag stone gave the user the ability to see into the fairy realms and gain psychic sight, although this association is stronger with stones found in land locked locations.
In modern usage, rather than being used against the power of witch hag stones are a more general protective amulet. Commonly they are used to avert negative intention and ward off nightmares either as a household charm or smaller pocket sized charms.
Singular or multiple stones can be turned into modern knots, such as Vikki Bramshaw outlines in her book Craft of the Wise, or turned into portable charms for protection in travel. There are a number of online shops in places like Etsy where people are selling keyring and pocket sized charms. People also use them for healing and for increasing psychic ability by charging them with purpose and using them during meditation.
I’m an avid beach comber but until this year I’ve never found a hag stone I wanted to take home. I’m probably overly picky but I had a stone in mind, a singular hole in a flattish stone, maybe oval maybe triangular. Before setting off to Whitby West Cliff beach on Easter Sunday I decided that this would be the year to find that elusive ‘perfect’ hag stone and low and behold the sea brings it tumbling toward me as I paddled along (in my wellies) looking for sparkly pretties that might catch my eye.
Then, because these things never happen in isolation, I was offered a hag stone when I bought an horseshoe complete with three nails at my local car boot sale. I can’t be sure if it’s from land or sea however it’s very rounded and the hole is perfect for suspending it by my front door as a protective charm so now I have the opportunity to make two different charms with different purposes.
Both stones were cleansed and dedicated at the last dark moon and I spun some red cord to suspend them both on, ready to complete the process during the May full moon. As already mentioned I will place the white stone by my door, complete with nine knots, and create a bedside charm which can double up as a necklace to protect me during sleep and meditation.
Im really looking forward to creating these charms, and using them, I will definitely be reporting back on the results.