In my twenty plus years of being a Witch I have never found a hag stone. However, my roommate who is also a practicing Witch has found more than she can count. What makes these stones show up more for one person and not another? To find out I started looking more into what they are and their history.
A Hag Stone is a stone with a natural hole through it and are believed to be magickal. These stones are believed to ward against spirits, bad luck, “Witchcraft”, sickness, and nightmares. They are also known to be windows or doorways to see “otherworlds”, such as the fairy realm. These magickal stones have as many names as they do powers and seem to have originated by their folk-lore and use in a particular region. Sometimes referred to as hex stones, serpent’s eggs, snake’s eggs, and Druids’ glass. However, the more common names other than hag stones are Witch stones, (holy) holey stones, and adder stones.
Two origin stories of adder stones say that the stones are the hardened saliva of many serpents together in one area and the hole is caused by their tongues. The second claims that an adder stone is made by the sting of an adder. Some sources say that these stories hail from the Druids of Ancient Wales and Britain, while others say they are European. As these are just folk stories and superstitions, I then turned to their numerous uses in cultures and traditions.
It seems that in certain parts of Europe, this stone kept the “hag” spirit away in order to prevent her from stealing horses and children. While in others It was also used as a talisman to dispel the evil eye and many people still hang this stone in bedrooms. In the UK, both fishermen and farmers also adopted this holey stone as protective charm against unwanted forces and storms and still use it today.
Peculiarly, out of all the information I found, I saw no mention of the Blackfoot custom of the “Buffalo Stone”. Although, these stones do not usually have a hole, some of the “magickal” ideals behind them are the same. Now of these stones, I have many, some have been in my family for years, but none have a hole or resemble the traditional hag stone.
The Buffalo Stone, or Iniskim, is a sacred medicine stone, typically a fossil of some sort, that can be in the shape of an animal, mainly that of a buffalo. Although, they can be any stone that seems to be out-of-place of its surroundings or contain natural anomalies, such as a hole. Similar to some of the hag stone’s uses, Iniskim medicine helps have a successful life and grants luck and prosperity to its owner. However, the origin behind them is of a completely different nature.
A summarized popular version of this legend is that long ago, the buffalo suddenly disappeared and the people began to starve. Among them was a woman, who one day while gathering wood for the fire, she thought she heard someone singing a song. The song seemed quite close, but when she looked around, she saw no one. Following the sound and looking closely, she found a small rock that was singing, “Take me! I am of great power. Take me! I am of great power.” When the woman picked up the rock, it told her what to do and taught her a special song. She told her husband her experience and then said, “Call all the men together and ask them to sing this song that will call the buffalo back. Ever since then, the people took good care of a buffalo stone and prayed to it, for they knew that it had much power.
Whether you call them hag stones, adder stones or buffalo stones, they all hold a story behind the magick of what they can do or how they are found. I may not have ever found a traditional holey stone of my own, but I have found the magick in knowing that these illusive stones find you, rather than you finding them.