Hag stones or holey stones (sometimes also called witch stones, adder stones, fairy stones, or serpent eggs) are stones with a naturally occurring hole that goes all the way through. They are often created by burrowing creatures and worn straight through by water over time. A string or chain might be threaded through the hole to create a necklace or talisman.
On the hunt
I recently enjoyed, through the local business Spiritual Imprints, the unique experience of searching for hag stones on the shores of Lake Ontario. The weather was rainy and quite chilly, but it was a small group of warm-hearted people and our guide lit a campfire near the water’s edge, which was roaring with waves. The misty day resulted in lovely, shiny rocks which really brought out their unique colours and markings.
It wasn’t long before I found my first hag stone. I was entirely pleased with myself. It was the stone equivalent of finding Waldo. Then I found two more. So why did I come home with a heavy bag of rocks if I only found three? I found fossils! And interesting coloured stones and ones with patterns. You know the saying…geology rocks.
We explored a couple locations and I learned plenty about plants too as we walked through some beautiful locations. It was a great day and it ended with coffee and waffles. Perfection.
I had eagerly been anticipating this outing for several weeks. As I waited for the day to arrive, I enjoyed researching the folklore of hag stones. Here’s what I found…
Folklore of hag stones
The folklore of hag stones goes back centuries with people using them to defend against threats of magic and prevent catastrophes such as lightning strikes, accidents on the stairs, and harm befalling their animals. (1)
A string or copper wire can be placed through the hag stone and hung in places to prevent disasters and welcome in abundance. They are said to aid in the protection of the owner. I know a couple of people who hang them on their front doors.
A common place to hang a hag stone historically was above a bed to prevent mystical nighttime attacks, which is now a phenomenon often referred to as sleep paralysis. (2) It’s been said placing one under your pillow will prevent nightmares. (3) One of the most interesting claims I’ve read is that looking through one on a full moon will give you the power to see into different dimensions! (4) They also have links to fertility rituals. (5)
Have you ever found a hag stone? If tradition is to be believed — the hag stone will find the person and not the other way around. (6). Similarly, the magic of a hag stone is often thought to work only for the person the stone chose. (7) Well, I suppose I better keep a close watch over mine then. I put one in my garden to help guard Frank (my metal goat statue) from lightning and raccoon strikes.
A character in one of my WIP middle grade novels looks for hag stones, crystals, fossils– the works. I like the idea of these stones so much that they may factor into more than one of my books. Stay tuned!
Footnotes and further learning
- Icy Sedgwick, “The Folklore of Stones: From Hag Stones to Healing.” Fabulous Folklore with Icy, August 13, 2022, Podcast, 17:10. https://www.icysedgwick.com/folklore-of-stones/
- Samantha Fey, “Crystal of the Week: Holy Stones and Fairy Crosses.” The Crystal Chick website, August 12, 2012. http://crystal-chick.blogspot.com/2012/08/crystal-of-week-holy-stones-and-fairy.html?m=1
- Shani Jay, “Hag Stones: Meaning, Magic & Where To Find Them.” Revoloon website, accessed May 2011. https://revoloon.com/shanijay/hag-stone-meaning
- The Simple Things website. “Folklore | Hag Stones”, July 25, 2021. Accessed on February 26, 2023. https://www.thesimplethings.com/blog/hag-stones
Jeremy Hall, “Hag Stones: What They Are and Where to Find Them.” Rock Seeker website, accessed February 26, 2023. https://www.rockseeker.com/hag-stones/
Published May 10, 2023.