What Is A Hag Stone? Lore, Magick & Where to Find Hag Stones
Hag stones, also called holey stones, are curious little charms found in Celtic lore that in modern times are gaining popularity in the magical community. You might have heard them called holey stones, Odin stones, or even fairy stones. But they are all technically the same thing. In this article, we answer the question, what is a hag stone? We dive into their lore and magick, plus where to find these magical little objects.
What is a Hag Stone? Origins and Lore
Is it a stone that’s come from a hag? No, not necessarily. Though hags like me do enjoy having these stones around. To the point – they are rocks or even pieces of hardened coral that have a hole straight through them. Here’s the key to knowing if you have a hag stone or not – hold the hole up to your eye and see through it. If you can’t see straight through to the other side, it’s not a hag stone. Hag stones are made by natural wear and tear from the elements: water, wind, and erosion over time.
They’re steeped in folklore worldwide and have many names. You might have heard them also called holey stones, faerie stones, witch stones, or Odin’s stones. Depending on the region, you’ll hear hag stones called different things because of the various legends attached to them. Some sources also claim they’re the same thing as adder stones or serpent eggs, but there’s no concrete evidence to connect the adder’s stone of ancient myth to the hag stone.
Why They’re Also Called Odin’s Stones
Why are they called Odin’s stones? In an ancient poem, Odin has a dwarf drill a hole through a magical auger stone. The dwarf is reluctant but finishes the work. Odin shifts into a snake and enters the stone, only to shift into a young man on the other side. You see, the stone gave Odin the ability to move between worlds and shapeshift with ease. Odin’s stone helped him steal the mead of poetry.
Hag stones are considered good luck. They’re amulets worn to ward off illness, evil spirits, and negative energy in general. But they’re also known to bring prosperity and health. Place them around the home, on your altar, or wear one to harness its full protective powers. Legend has it Druids once wore these stones around their neck as a sort of badge of honor or status.
The Cailleach and Hagstones
I recently began working with the goddess Cailleach from Scottish-Irish folklore and history. She’s an ever-present, ancient deity that is believed to have been brought to Ireland by the Celtiberians (Celts from the area that’s modern day Spain and Portugal). She may predate the Celts, even. This crone goddess was also a giantess, who carried stones in her apron which fell out and crashed into the British Isles and Ireland. Thereby shaping the land. I believe the hagstone is firstly related to her for this reason. But also because she is considered a divine “hag”, a divine ancestor and one of the fairy people.
Where to Find Hag Stones
Hag stones can be purchased online or in metaphysical shops. They can also be given to you. HOWEVER, the best way to find a hag stone is to be gifted one by nature herself. Truthfully, I searched for these magical charms for YEARS. Every time I went to the beach or to the creek, I looked. But I never found one. Until one day my daughter pulled three of them up from the ocean bed at the beach. It’s always when you least expect it, and when the otherworld feels you’re ready for the magick.
It’s easier to find them at the ocean beach after a storm OR after a round of dredging where the sandy ocean bottom has been stirred up. (You might even find a prehistoric shark’s tooth) Don’t just comb the shoreline where you can see, get into the water knee deep and grab handfuls of sand. See if this methods turns up a holey stone. It was effective for my daughter!
I’ve heard people say it’s not a true hag stone if you find it at the beach. These folks are misinformed. A hag stone can be found at ANY kind of beach including the shoreline at the ocean, river, creek, lake, etc. If you find a stone with a hole straight through it near a body of water or on a shoreline, it’s an authentic hag stone and it was meant for you!
How to Use Them in Your Magick
So you’ve found a hag stone or three or four. What do you do with them now? The options are endless. Truly. However you feel drawn to use them is how you should use them. But here are a few ways in which I use hag stones in my magickal practice.
First, as a form of protection. Which aligns with old British lore. By hanging a hag stone on a red string and hanging it by your front door, you ward off evil in many forms. Hanging a hag stone with any cord, thread or string is protective in general and may align with the concept of the union between male and female (string enters hole). Some see the stone as a symbol of the goddess’ womb, and therefore carrying her protective, nurturing essence. Placing a box of holed stones beneath your front porch guards the household as well.
According to author Gemma Gary in her book Silent As the Trees, one particular hagstone artifact is housed in the Scarborough Museums Trust’s Collection in England. This stone is “threaded onto knotted twine, and is labelled a ‘marestane’. It was prepared and sold by an Exmouth wise woman in 1910 to be hung on a bedstead to ward off nightmares.” In addition, the reason they are called hag stones is for this same reason – to prevent a hag from sitting on your chest at night (the supernatural explanation for sleep paralysis). Hang one from your bedpost, next to your bed, or wear it.
Interestingly, you’ll hear these stones are used to “see” faeries (as we’ll detail in the next paragraph), but they’ve also been employed to ward off the fae. Especially being hung around horses’ necks to prevent the pixies from riding them at night. According to the historian Grose, they also prevent witches from riding horses, often tied to a stable key.
Look into the Eye: The Holey Stone as a Seer Stone
In Neil Gaiman’s popular book “Coraline”, the heroine of the story peers through the hole in the stone to “see” another world and the beings therein. Gaiman didn’t make this concept up. For centuries, folks have used these magical tools to peer into the otherworld – the spiritual realm. They’re particularly effective for seeing elementals and fae folk. But are also handy in seeing ghosts and other types of spirits, as well. They’re protective in this way, as well, as they allow the individual to see into the unknown and prevent potential calamity.
Similar to using hag stones to see the spiritual realm, a Celtic goddess told me to use the stone to “see” more while divining. When I want to get a closer look at an oracle card reading, I pull out my stone and peer through it at the cards. It’s strange – the hag stone opens up details in the cards I wouldn’t have normally noticed. Try it and let me know what you think.
Hag stones make great offerings for Celtic and Norse deities, as well as for water elementals and ancestors who lived near the sea. Place them on your altar or anywhere you honor your deities and spirits. In Aradia the Witches Gospel, to find a holey stone is a positive sign from the goddess Diana. In addition, keeping them in the bathroom or laundry room is appropriate to bring in natural, safe watery energy. I’ve also put them in spell bags, jars, bottles, and dream pillows. Your imagination is the limit.