There's nothing better than rummaging amongst various sea stones, sea glass and bits of seaweed, to reach down and find the most amazing and perfect Hag Stone. Filled with the magickal energy of the sea, these stones make fantastic protection amulets.
They are known by lots of names: Hag Stones, Odin Stones, Adder Stones, Snake Eggs, Hex Stones, Faery Stones, Holey Stones, Holeys and Eye Stones. The naturally occurring holes are caused by the erosion of running water. It is believed that water has magickal and beneficial properties and that a Hag Stone retains all of this, but its not always water that causes the holes. Most of the Hag Stones in Whitby are actually made by a funny clam-like creature called a piddock....
I absolutely love collecting things from the beach. I've found things ranging from pirate glass and marbles to old lightbulb insulators and bits of clay pipes. But my favourite has to be what I found in a really large shale hag stone. This particular stone had started to crack so my son and I decided to smash it open and look for fossils. We couldn't see any fossils but we did find a beautiful 'Angelwings' or Piddock, still in its burrow!
Piddocks are a strange group of clam-like shellfish that burrow into soft rocks such as clay and sandstone. They begin this process after settling as larvae and slowly enlarge and deepen the burrow as they grow. As such, they are essentially locked in and will live there for the rest of their lives. From the protection of their burrows, they extend their siphon outwards to filter feed on organic matter from the water column. When the Piddock dies, the empty burrows provide a gastro delight for other marine species, including other molluscs, juvenile crabs and even small sea anemones. Their beautiful long oval shells are distinctively wing shaped, giving Piddocks their other common name (and my favourite), Angelwings. Did you know that piddocks also glow in the dark! Through bioluminescence, they glow blue-green around the edges. Amazingly, the protein that creates this glow has been extracted and used to help identify when people are getting ill and can give off light when it encounters chemicals produced by white-blood cells to fight infections. This can help doctors prescribe treatments faster and fight infections before they even really take hold.
J. Beccaria found that a single piddock “rendered seven ounces of milk so luminous that faces might be distinguished by it”, and another researcher, Costa, wrote that “if the flesh is chewed and held in the mouth, the breath becomes luminous and looks like a real flame”. (The Edible Mollusks of Great Britain, Lovell, 1878). Definitely an amazing find, special little creatures and a gift within a gift.
Hag stones throughout the ages have been and still are used for healing, protection and the ability to see the Faery realms.
In Germanic folklore it was said that when serpents gathered together, they used their venom to create the holes, so these stones were worn to protect against snake bites.
Witches would use these stones in rituals and spell work but they were also used to counteract a witch's magick, ward off curses, sickness and the dead. They protected against spells, used in fertility magick and were used to heal. Fishermen and sailors would tie them on their boats and ships to protect them from evil spirits and witches. They believed that evil spirits and witches would curse the ships to have small catches and by having a Hag Stone they would be protected. The stones were also said to control the winds on the high seas and the weather. Farmers would hang them in stables and barns to protect livestock from diseases, bewitchment or being ridden to the Sabbath by witches. It is said that if you look through a Hag Stone on the night of a full moon, you can see the Kingdom of the Fae, elementals and other Faery beings. Other beliefs tell of the stones being used to bind a Faery to your bidding, but that would be a most dangerous and silly
thing to do!
They are perfect for when you are out and about in nature enabling you to look for faeries and bring you closer to tree spirits. Hag Stones found on the beach can be used to look for sea spirits, sea elementals and mermaids.
A Hag Stone threaded on a red cord is useful at Samhain (Halloween) when the veil between our world and spirit is at its thinnest. They can protect from the evil eye and are usually hung at doors and windows for protection. Several can be tied together to give more strength to the protection.
These beautiful, powerful and magickal stones help regenerate energy, refresh the body, mind and spirit and are full of healing energy.